Threshing Day Pudding

This traditions recipe predates the combine harvester. I wonder what my own ancestors would of made of these magnificent machines. Envious I expect. They were lucky they had a big family (Grandfather was one of 12 and mother one of 8) as you needed as many hands as you could muster to manage all the processes that today’s harvester can do in one go. Reaping with a scythe, tying the wheat into sheaves, gathering them into stooks and then making into stacks and thatching the top. Threshing by hand using a flail, is now a thing of the past. A flail consisted of two pieces of wood joined by chains or a leather thong. One man could thresh seven bushels of wheat in a day (equivalent to a 50 gallon container). To remove the chaff the grain would then be winnowed, often done by throwing the grain in the air to allow the wind to blow away the lighter material. Finally the grain would be sieved to remove the particles and seeds from the weeds and it was then ready to be stored. I feel exhausted just writing about it.

So, it is no wonder the workers found this pudding ideal. This is a old Kentish recipe but no doubt it was used further afield. I have reduced the quantities as they were usually made to feed a large workforce.

Ingredients - serves 4 to 6

½ lb flour 4 oz suet
½ teaspoon salt 2 oz brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder 2 eggs
1 teaspoon mixed spice milk as required
a good handful of old-fashioned raisins  


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Butter an 8 inch round Pyrex bowl.
  2. Mix the flour, suet, salt, sugar, spice, baking powder and add the raisins.
  3. Beat the eggs and add to the dry ingredients. Add milk gradually until the mixture has a dropping consistency,
  4. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 45 mins. When a skewer comes out clean the pudding is cooked.
  5. Serve hot with lashing of custard.

My Official Taster’s description of this is “between a bread pudding and a rock cake”. Frankly, after a helping of this I doubt I would be up to much threshing.


Dried Fruit
Mixed spices