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Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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The British also developed a wide range of sweet puddings from originally savory recipes. Pudding is an ambiguous word in English, now referring both to frivolous dessert items and to more substantial sweet dishes counted as staple foods. History only partially explains this usage.

In the sixteenth century, currants, dates, and sugar were added to the mixtures of meat or blood—spices and fat that hitherto had been used to stuff the animal guts that made the original sausage-like puddings. Shortly afterward, a more convenient alternative, the pudding cloth, came into use, which meant boiled puddings could be made at any time. It was cited in a contemporary recipe for Cambridge pudding—breadcrumbs, flour, dried fruits, suet, eggs, sugar, milk, and butter, wrapped in a cloth and boiled, ancestor to the plum pudding. Suet was the last link to the original meat pudding. In his Dictionary (1755) Dr. Johnson defined pudding as “a kind of food very variously compounded but generally made of meal, milk and eggs.” Later flavorings included ginger, treacle, syrup, or jam. See pudding.