Steamed Pudding and Jam and authentic 1940s recipe

An authentic 1940's recipet to celebrate the Woodhall Spa 1940's Festival.

1940’s Festival in Woodhall Spa turns the clock back seventy years.

The time will soon be here when for a weekend in July the whole village goes back in time to the 1940’s. It is of course the Woodhall Spa 1940’s Festival taking place on the 19th-20th July. Now in its third year, this promises to be the best year yet and I hope you to come along and join in the fun.

What really makes it so special is the participation of not just the people involved with the event but the visitors that enter into the spirit of it by dressing up. This has of course been helped enormously by the huge enthusiasm for all things vintage and yearning for nostalgia. The village has a long history with the military and Woodhall Spa provides a perfect setting and an authentic environment for the whole event.

It brings together the local business community too, we have great fun decorating our shop and I have been squirrelling 1940’s cookery books, posters and props away all year. I love the vintage scene and we have a thriving one in this area and of course this festival gives me the perfect opportunity to recreate some 1940’s recipes. It was hard to choose which one to put in for you as many were dishes of rationing necessity rather than being particularly appealing. I also didn’t think you would want to tackle anything with dried egg in, although it was a clever achievement in food technology it was particularly unpalatable.
Rationing in the Second World War was run by the Ministry of Food under the biochemist Sir Jack Drummond and the Minister, Lord Woolton. They applied the latest theories in nutrition to improve the nation’s diet. It was a feat of organisation and it was imperative that rationing was simplified and used for goods whose supply could be guaranteed. Another key element was the Dig for Victory campaign, which promoted an increase in agricultural production. Self sufficiency and home grown produce was hugely important. During 1943 and 1944 imports were less than half of that before the war and there was the ongoing threat of merchant ships being sunk by German submarines, in fact around 2,500 were lost during the war.

An unappetizing loaf was produced called “The National Loaf” it was made with special flour. Due to a shortage of imported wheat a new method of production was developed which extracted more flour from the wheat grain. Although it was nutritious it was apparently grey in colour and not at all popular.

The Ministry of Food were also responsible for teaching and educating people on how to make the most of their rations and the healthiest way to feed their families. The Ministry of Food leaflets are now very collectable and the style is very indicative of the period.

The recipe I have chosen to get us in the mood for the forthcoming 40’s Festival is –

Steamed Pudding and Jam

Mixing Bowl, Sieve, Spoon, Pudding Basin (size is up to you), Measuring Jub, Tablespoon, greaseproof paper, foil, string, scissors, saucepan or roasting tin, something to grease you bowl with, scales.


6oz Self Raising Flour
Pinch Salt
1 1/2 oz Margarine (Stork in a tub)
1 ½ oz Sugar
Just over ¼ pint of milk and water mixed together
2 TBSP Jam

Mix and Sieve together the flour and Salt
Rub in the Margarine
Mix in the Sugar
Mix to a dropping consistency with the milk and water
Grease your pudding basin
Put a greased disc of greaseproof paper in the bottom of your bowl (it will make it easier to turn out)
Put the jam at the bottom of your bowl on top of your greaseproof paper
Put the pudding mixture on top, leave a good inch at the top of the bowl so there is room for your pudding to rise. Depending on the size of your bowl you may have enough to do two smaller puds.
Put a cover of greaseproof paper and then a layer of foil over the top, but put a pleat in so there is room for a bit of expansion as your pudding will rise up like a cake. Tie your paper and foil around the rim of the bowl.
Pop it in a saucepan with water coming at least half way up, make sure that the water isn’t so high as it can leak into your pudding and ruin it. Put the lid on your saucepan.

Keep it on a gentle simmer and make sure it doesn’t boil dry, you may need to top the water up every now and again. You need to steam it for about 1 ½ to 2 hours. If you prefer you could do this in the oven, just put your bowl in a baking tin and pour water around to make a Bain Marie and steam it in the oven on a low heat, again keep an eye on the water. This is how it would have been done in the 40’s and you would have added a bit of salt and cooked your veg in the water around your pudding.
When it is done, turn out carefully onto a plate and serve with custard.

If this recipe has got you in the 40’s mood why not get dressed up and come along to the Festival. The first event – “Tea for Victory” is being hosted by the Welcome Club and will take place on Friday 18th July at the Community Centre in Alexander Road between 10am – 12noon. They will be serving WWII themed refreshments and entertainment. It is all free, but any donations would go to Prostate Cancer UK. On the Friday evening The Petwood  Hotel has the singer Brandyn Shaw and his band, tickets are only £7 and it starts at 7.30pm.

Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th July between 10am and 5pm will see the village transformed. Wartime displays can be seen at Jubilee Park as well as a Collectable and Antiques Market, with over 50 stalls to look around.

New for this year are two more exciting attractions. Coronation Road will be closed, with Military Vehicles parked all along it for you to come and look at and more Wartime Displays in The woods, next to Coronation Road.
Not to be missed are the re-enactments of the large air raid on the Golf Hotel, this takes place on the Saturday and Sunday afternoon. There will be a plethora of themed entertainment at all the local hotels, outdoor concerts, a vintage flypast, re-enactors parade, vintage bus rides to Thorpe Camp. There will also be a disabled mini bus that will run from the Green Lane Car Park from 10am – 4pm on both days. To include as many members of the community as possible 40’s singers have been arranged to visit local nursing homes to entertain the residents.

To commemorate the First World War there will be a service on Saturday morning by the War Memorial and to commemorate Arnhem at the Cottage Museum on Sunday morning.

For a full listing of the programme of events take a look at

Sadie Hirst is an award winning artisan baker with a passion for our local baking heritage.



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