How to make hunter’s pudding

Hunter’s pudding is a variation of plum pudding. Plum refer to the raisins in the pudding. Plum puddings were often associated with special occasions, served during certain holidays but also during the harvest to sustain hungry farm labourers and their families.

The costly ingredients in hunter’s pudding like brandy, nutmeg and candied peel meant that this particular dish was most likely reserved for special occasions such as a formal hunt.

This pudding was popular from the mid-18th century to the 20th century. It was found in British cookbooks and it was also popular in colonial America.

This recipe comes from “The Lady’s Assistant”, a 1775 cookbook published from Charlotte Mason’s manuscript cookbook. 

  • 225g flour
  • 225g suet (I used vegetarian Atora)
  • 170g currants
  • 170g sultanas
  • 4 tbsp candied orange peel
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 3-4 tbsp brandy
  • 4 eggs
  • 240ml double cream, single cream or milk

Mix everything together in bowl with a large spoon.

Put two large pans of water on to boil. One pan is for boiling the pudding. The other will be used to top up the water in other saucepan.

Take a large square of pudding cloth or smaller squares to make individual cloths. 20 x 20 cm for a smaller puddings and 50 x 50 cm for a large one. I like to use muslin cloths but in fact any cloth can be used, old pillowcases were often used in the past.

Scald the cloth in boiling water for 10 minutes to sterilise it. Carefully take it out with tongs and, still wet, cover it with flour. Turn the cloth over to do this on both sides. Shake off any excess flour.

Spoon some pudding mixture into the pudding cloth, draw up the corners and tie off tightly with string. Try and finish with a loop of string to help with lifting and hanging the pudding later.

Place your pudding into the pan with boiling water. Leave it boiling for 3 hours. Make sure to only top up this water with boiling water. You want the pudding to continue boiling and adding cold water will increase the cooking time.

Once your pudding has finished boiling, you can dip it in cold water, just for a few seconds. It will make it easier to remove the cloth without damaging the surface of your pudding.

These words, from 1769, often guide me in cooking a pudding:

when you boil a Pudding, take great care your cloth is very clean, dip it in boiling water and flour it well, and give your cloth a shake; if you boil it in a Basin, Butter it, and boil it in plenty of water, and turn it often, and don’t cover the Pan, when enough take it up into a Basin let it stand a few minutes to cool, then untie the String, wrap the cloth round the Basin, lay your dish over it, and turn the pudding out, and take the Basin and cloth off very carefully, for very often a Pudding is broken in turning it out.

– The Experienced English Housekeeper by By Elizabeth Raffald.1769.

Traditionally hunter’s pudding was served with a simple white sauce or you may prefer it with a dash of clotted cream.

My guests are surprised when the pudding tastes so good. It’s not a looker…

If you fancy making your own traditional pudding perhaps you’d like to join me for a Christmas pudding workshop?

Here’s a review of last year’s course on Youtube.