Monday, December 12, 2011

The Chemist’s Christmas Pudding.

The Christmas season is upon us, so we must once again pay homage to the pudding. There are many recipes for Christmas pudding in the VintageChristmas Recipes archive, and it might be thought that there was no more left to say on it in this blog, but trust me - there are still new-old spins on the theme to be discovered or rediscovered.

I give you in its entirety an article from the Manchester Guardian of December 23, 1922, and especially dedicate it to those of you with a scientific and/or poetic bent.


[According to a paragraph in yesterday’s “Miscellany,” an exact analysis of a Christmas Pudding reveals the following constituents:- Water, 35.58; nitrogenous substances, 4.25; fat, 5.20; sugar (glucose) 23.89; dextrin, 12.23; starch, 11.14; cellulose, 5.31; soluble ash, .92; insoluble ash, .20; other miscellaneous substances, .58.]

Bring hither my cleaned apparatus,
And all the retorts I possess:
Without them, the jobs that avail us
Can never be brought to success.
And now, while the steam is condensing
In queerly shaped bottles and tins,
Gather round, for the task of dispensing
Our pudding begins!

We start with the glucose, then adding,
In case the poor pudding should parch,
The water (one pail) with a padding
Of cellulose, sugar, and starch:
Then in with the dextrin and let the
Nitrogenous substances splash,
And whatever you do, don’t forget the
Insoluble ash!
And then let us prove to the erring
That sentiment counts with us, too –
Let each take a hand with the stirring
And wish, as we mingle the brew,
That our pudding may comfort and nourish,
And, while it is still in the pan,
The vitamins blossom and flourish
According to plan.

The recipe for the day is from The Times of December 9, 1922. It is for a very large amount of mixture and is clearly intended to make several puddings. I suggest for one modest pudding the ingredients could be reduced to one quarter.

An Old-Time Pudding.
It has the merit of having contented our forefathers, for it is nearly a hundred years old.
The ingredients are:- 2 lb. of raisins, 2 lb. of sultanas, 1 lb.of currants, 2 lb.moist sugar, 1 lb. breadcrumbs, and 12 eggs very well beaten, 2 lb. finely chopped suet, 1 lb. of candied peel finely chopped, 2 nutmegs  grated, and 4 lemons finely chopped, together with juice. Having given the list of ingredients, the recipe goes on to say that the colour of the pudding may be darkened by adding some burnt sugar.
This should find favour in the United States, or even in the eyes of Mr.Scymgeor, though it would be necessary to add ¼ pint of brandy if the pudding is to be kept.
In all these recipes [several were given in the article] the currants are cleaned, washed and dried, the raisins are stoned, and the fruit is well mixed with the dry ingredients. The eggs are well beaten, mixed with the wine and spirits, then thoroughly mixed with the rest, before being put into basins of suitable size.

Quotation for the Day.

Christmas itself may be called into question,
If carried so far it creates indigestion.
Ralph Bergrengren.

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