Frumenty is one type of Christmas pudding. Also called furmity, fromity, fermenty, and several other variations, this medieval (and possibly even Roman Britain) cuisine was primarily a type of soupy porridge made from boiled, cracked wheat. The basic dish could be enhanced with milk, eggs, or broth; made sweet with dried fruits, nuts, sugar, etc.; or served as a pottage with herb-cured meat.
There has never been one way to cook it, the recipe varying from place to place on down through the centuries. Other porridges made from oats, barley, and other grains were common, the recipes frequently overlapping with modifications rampant as people shared ideas or the availability of edibles fluctuated.
Mincemeat, fruitcake, and plum pudding are offshoots of frumenty. The Celts considered their version of frumenty part of a traditional Christmas meal, and other peoples included it to their holiday menus from time-to-time. The Puritans of 1660 banned it due to the spirits added to the pudding, saying it was unfit for people who followed the ways of God! But, in 1714, George I reinstated it as part of the royal Christmas feast, much to the dismay of the Quakers.
The modern day recipes for Christmas Pudding – a staple firmly established by the Victorian Era – mostly derive from frumenty and its deviations. A simple Google search will yield dozens of ‘traditional’ frumenty/plum pudding recipes. I rather enjoyed this one:
Original fourteenth or fifteenth century English recipe for Frumenty:
Tak clene whete & braye yt wel in a mortar tyl the holes gon of; seethe it til it breste in water. Nym it vp & lt it cole. Tak good broth & swete mylk of kyn or of almand & tempere it therwith. Nym yelkys of eyren rawe & saffroun & cast therto; salt it; lat it naught boyle after the eyren ben cast therinne. Messe it forth with venesoun or with fat motoun fresch.
From “Curye on Englysch
5 oz breadcrumbs
4 oz of plain flour
4 oz chopped suet (raw beef or mutton fat)
4 oz currants
4 oz raisins
4 oz soft brown moist sugar
2 oz candied peel – Cut your own or use ready cut
2 oz raw grated carrot
1 teaspoon grated rind of lemon
half teaspoon nutmeg grated
1 teaspoon baking powder
about quarter pint of milk
Mix all the dry ingredients together except the baking powder.
Add the beaten eggs and sufficient milk to moisten the whole, then cover, and let the mixture stand for about an hour.
When ready stir in the baking powder, turn into a greased mould or basin, and boil for 6 hours or steam the plum pudding for about 7 hours. Sufficient for 9 persons.
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