Hard Times Pudding – A Frugal Dessert from the 1920s

  • Author: MelissaKNorris
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours 5 mins



  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/2 tablespoon melted butter or coconut oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1 heaping cup raisins


  1. Grease a 3-cup glass bowl.
  2. Combine molasses, water, and butter.
  3. Mix flour with baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, and spices. Add to molasses mixture with raisins and stir until combined.
  4. Pour into greased bowl.
  5. If steaming on the stove:
  6. Cover bowl with a piece of parchment paper or muslin, then with a piece of tin foil, tied securely with string.
  7. Use the steamer insert of a double broiler, a steamer basket, or place the bowl on a trivet in a pot of water. Steam for 2 hours. Remove the cover and run a knife around the top of the pudding to help it release from the sides of the bowl. Invert over a plate. Serve warm.
  8. How to make pudding from scratch in the instant pot:
  9. Pour 2 cups of water into the insert. Place the trivet in the insert, and put the uncovered bowl on the trivet.
  10. Turn on the sauté function, and cover the pot, leaving the seal open to venting. Once the water starts to boil, steam the budding for 12 minutes.
  11. After 12 minutes, cancel the sauté function, close the vent to sealing, and pressure cook for 20 minutes. Allow the pressure to naturally release for 30 minutes.
  12. If there are water droplets on the pudding when you remove it from the Instant Pot, gently dab with a paper towel or clean cloth.
  13. Run a knife around the top edge to help the pudding release from the sides of the bowl before inverting on a plate.
  14. Serve warm.