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Cooking (and Contemplating) New England

“Plumb Cake," from Amelia Simmons’s American Cookery (1796)

A yeasted "Plumb Cake" from the first American cookbook


In New England, Christmas didn't become an important holiday until about the middle of the nineteenth century. The Puritans distinctly objected to Christmas celebrations. In time, they became less strict about some of their beliefs, but not their hostility to Christmas. But the Puritans and their descendants weren't nearly as consistent as they liked to think they were. In the eighteenth century, when Thanksgiving began to develop as the most important regional holiday, New Englanders began sneaking Christmas in by the back door, featuring traditional English Christmas foods in their Thanksgiving feasts. That's how turkey became the centerpiece of the American Thanksgiving dinner. It's also how several traditional English Christmas desserts like mince pie and plum pudding found their way onto the festive New England board. The recipe we're going to tell you about in this post, for "Plumb Cake," is an example of an English treat that became popular in New England for Thanksgiving and, later on, for Christmas. Read More 

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