Traditional Recipes – Winter

With the Christmas season upon us, I thought I would share some winter recipes from the brilliant collection of recipe books which we hold in the archives at the Ulster Folk Museum. Largely dating to the 19th and 20th centuries, they are a fascinating resource in that they provide an insight into cooking and baking trends throughout the decades. Some contain fabulously opulent recipes, whilst others are geared to those with modest incomes. Earlier this year, Aoife Kennedy from Colaiste Feirste spent a week with us on work experience. She helped to pick out these seasonal recipes. I hope you enjoy! 

Christmas pudding

Christmas pudding

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Apple snowballs

Apple snowballs

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Cream snow

Cream snow

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Brandy snaps

Brandy snaps

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Gingerbread cake

Gingerbread cake

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Fig pudding

Fig pudding

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Fig sandwiches

Fig sandwiches

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Image: Christmas pudding
Christmas pudding

Christmas pudding from The Best Way: A Book of Household Hints & Recipes, 1907, p.40


  • 900g / 32oz finely chopped suet
  • 450g / 1lb flour
  • 900g / 2lb breadcrumbs
  • 450g / 1lb stoned raisins
  • 450g / 1lb sultanas
  • 450g / 1lb currants
  • 450g / 1lb Demerara sugar
  • 225g / 0.5lb almonds
  • 7g / 0.25oz baking-powder
  • A small teaspoonful of salt
  • The grated rind of 3 lemons
  • 4 eggs
  • Sufficient milk to moisten it
  • A little brandy to help it to keep


  • Mix all dry ingredients well together, after adding the blanched and chopped almonds.
  • Thoroughly beat the eggs, add them to the milk, and pour them over the mass.
  • Stir until all the ingredients are well mixed, then pour in a little brandy.
  • Boil the pudding four or five hours, according to size, store carefully and re-boil when wanted.


Image: Apples for apple snowballs
Apples for apple snowballs

Apple snowballs from Mrs Beeton’s Cookery Book, 1911, p.236


  • Apples

To each apple allow:

  • 14g / 1 tablespoonful of rice
  • 280ml / 0.5 pint of milk, or milk and water mixed
  • A clove
  • 5g / 1 teaspoonful of moist sugar


  • Simmer the rice in the milk until the milk is absorbed (a good pinch of salt should be added to the rice and milk, and, if liked, 14g / 1 tablespoonful of sugar to every 560ml / pint of milk).
  • Pare and core the apples, keeping them whole, fill the centre of each with sugar, and put in a clove, if liked.
  • Cover with the rice, and tie each ball in the corner of a pudding cloth.
  • Put into boiling water, and boil gently from 45 to 60 minutes.
  • Serve with sugar.


Image: Cream snow
Cream snow

Cream snow from Mrs. Beeton’s All About Cookery, New Edition, 1913, p.211


  • 560ml / 1 pint of cream
  • The whites of 2 eggs
  • 14g / 1 tablespoonful of castor sugar
  • Vanilla essence


  • Whip the cream and whites of eggs separately to a stiff froth, then mix them lightly together.
  • Add the sugar and flavour to taste with vanilla.
  • Pile in a glass dish and if liked, garnish with cherries and strips of angelica.


Image: Brandy for brandy snaps
Brandy for brandy snaps

Brandy snaps from The Economic Cookery Book, 1905, p.165


  • 113g / 0.25lb butter
  • 113g / 0.25lb golden syrup
  • 113g / 0.25lb sugar
  • 113g / 0.25lb flour
  • 28g / 2 tablespoonfuls of brandy


  • Melt the treacle, butter and sugar together, then add the flour and brandy.
  • Drop a small spoonful on a greased tin; cook until firm and golden brown.
  • Take up quickly with a knife, and wrap round the handle of a large wooden spoon.
  • Remove from the spoon; allow to get cold and brittle.
  • Fill up with whipped and flavoured cream.
  • Serve as a cold sweet for luncheon or dinner.


Image: Gingerbread cake
Gingerbread cake

Gingerbread cake from Simple Recipes for Small Incomes, 1913, p.52


  • 450g / 1lb household flour
  • 113g / 0.25lb brown sugar
  • 113g / 0.25lb butter
  • 28g / 1oz ground ginger
  • 225g / 0.5lb treacle
  • 1 egg
  • 5g / 1 teaspoonful baking powder or yeast powder
  • The grated rind of 1 lemon.


  • Warm the treacle and butter together in a saucepan.
  • Mix the dry flour, ginger, and lemon rind.
  • Make a well in centre and break in the egg.
  • Pour into this the treacle and butter, and mix all well together with a wooden spoon.
  • Pour into a shallow greased tin and bake in a moderate heat about 30 minutes.


Image: Figs for fig pudding
Figs for fig pudding

Fig pudding from Mrs Beeton’s Cookery Book, 1911, p.243


  • 224g / 8oz of dried figs
  • 168g / 6oz of finely chopped suet
  • 112g / 4oz of breadcrumbs
  • 112g / 4oz of flour
  • 112g / 4oz of sugar
  • 280ml / 0.5 pint of milk
  • 2 eggs
  • A good pinch of salt
  • A good pinch of nutmeg


  • Chop the figs finely, add to them the rest of the dry ingredients, and mix well.
  • Beat the eggs, add the milk, pour into the mixture, and stir well.
  • Turn into a greased basin, and steam for 2 ½ hours.
  • Serve with a suitable sweet sauce.


Image: Bread ready for fig sandwiches
Bread ready for fig sandwiches

Fig sandwiches from The Best Way: A Book of Household Hints & Recipes, 1907, p.47


  • Figs
  • Water
  • Lemon juice
  • Cream
  • Brown bread
  • Butter
  • Finely-chopped walnuts


  • Mince some figs and put them into a double saucepan with a very little water.
  • Let them cook until they are of the consistency of a paste, then beat quite fine, adding a few drops of lemon juice, and if liked, a little thick cream.
  • Spread the mixture on some thin slices of brown bread-and-butter, sprinkle with some finely-chopped walnuts, put another slice of brown bread-and-butter on top, and cut into shapes.