Plum duff, one of the fortifying puddings of Old England, is essentially the same in its beginnings as plum pudding, before it went up-market to become Christmas pudding—in other words a plain boiled suet pudding enlivened with a more or less generous addition of raisins or currants (duff represents a former northern pronunciation of dough). The earliest record of the term, though, is not that ancient. It comes from the mid-nineteenth century, in R. H. Dana's Two Years Before the Mast (1840): ‘This day was Christmas. … The only change was that we had a “plum duff” for dinner.’ The sociologist Henry Mayhew records it as being one of the foods for sale on the street in London in the 1850s, its itinerant vendor being known as a plum-duffer.
Subjects: Cookery, Food, and Drink.