Day 5 Cup Pudding

Today’s delicious treat from the Berlin Cook Book (1906) is Mrs. August May’s recipe for Cup Pudding. This dessert is a typical 19th century pudding since it is steamed and contains suet. If you plan on cooking along with me during the year, you might want to stock up on suet as it can be difficult to find beyond the winter months. It is usually available next to frozen turkeys at the grocery store. Suet is the hard fat around an animal’s kidneys. This is an excellent recipe to try if you’ve never attempted a steamed pudding. It smells enticing while it steams and tastes good. It should be served with a sauce and I’ll include a recipe for sauce next time but it was quite nice even without the sauce.

The title of this recipe is common in older cook books but usually it refers to measurements. It would contain a cup of flour and a cup of suet and so on. Instead this recipe is referring to the cooking method. The batter is steamed in individual cups instead of a pudding bowl. It also makes a small quantity which is unusual. I ended up with three servings! Hardly enough to feed the typical family in 1912. It would be a very easy recipe to double or treble as needed. There are no eggs, milk or butter in the recipe making it inexpensive for a 1912 town/city dweller and perfect for winter.

I keep my suet in the freezer so I let the needed portion warm up a little before mixing it with the molasses and water. Otherwise this is a very very quick steamed pudding. It is easy to mix and quick to cook. The batter is quite thin — so thin that I double checked the recipe. Don’t forget to grease the cups. I neglected to grease one cup and it was impossible to remove the pudding. So what kind of cup to use? You could probably use any sort of small heat proof containers. I used a few 4 oz (115 mL) souffle cups and had some custard cups ready too. I have made plum puddings (Christmas puddings) so I knew I should only fill the containers about 3/4 full. This recipe made two perfect puddings and one that overflowed a little as it steamed. Usually puddings are covered in some way but this recipe didn’t mention it. I left them “topless”.

How to steam the puddings? I put the three puddings in a large saucepan and added water until it was almost level with the pudding. I covered the pan and placed it on the burner. Timing started from the moment the water began to steam. I turned the heat down a bit and left it. This was a mistake! It is important to keep a close watch on the pot while steaming. I managed to let the water boil dry — not a pleasant smell or clean up job. Keep some hot water available to carefully add to the pot to keep the level up.

Thirty-five minutes later the cup puddings were ready. I turned them out onto plates as this type of pudding is best hot. They were really delicious with a wonderful spicy aroma. It would be easy to vary the recipe by adding raisins or dried cranberries. This recipe is a keeper.


1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon allspice, 1/2 cup suet, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup molasses, 1/2 cup flour. Grease small cups, sift into a bowl, flour, soda, salt and spices, mix together into another bowl the rest of the things, then mix the contents of the two bowls together and stir well. Steam 35 minutes turn out and serve with sauce.

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5 Responses to Day 5 Cup Pudding

  1. Susan Odom says:

    i’m enjoying your posts! best of luck. I too enjoy historic cooking. I live in Northern Michigan and hope to follow you on your adventure!
    Susan Odom

  2. Thanks to my friend Roberta for pointing out the 1901 Census website. I’ve found out a bit more about Mrs. August May. Her first name is Hannah and she was born on May 27, 1863 making her 42 when the Berlin Cook Book was published. Her husband August is the same age and in 1901 they are parents to two boys and two girls.

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