I love holiday traditions, especially ones that have been passed down a generation or two.
A favorite of mine is to make a Christmas pudding with my mom, and the funny thing is the rest of my family thinks it's disgusting and won't touch it with a 10-foot pole. But I love this pudding, and what it represents. British roots, tradition, and well wishes.
I have fond memories of my grandmother, Vera and I making the pudding, and streaming it over a few days each year so when I started a family, and my mom would come out to visit we started this tradition up again.
Even though my boys and hubby do not like the taste, they do like to stir and make a wish! I love that part of it. I've had parties when the kids were little where everyone would stir....
Back in the day my mom said they used to put coins in the pudding, so you were extra lucky to get a piece with that treasure (never mind what the dentist bill may be!)
The recipe my mom uses is from Delia Smith Christmas Book. Her recipe is super easy except every year we forget how we converted the measurements into cups. The ounces are not fluid ounces so we used my scale from the studio, put a paper towel down and figured it out!
Almost all Christmas Pudding recipes call for the same ingredients including one that is not very common in the US; suet. We order it from Amazon and get the vegetarian one, no need for meat in my Christmas pudding. It is 2021! I also substitute stout for the barley wine.
Once stirred then it's a slow simmer for at least 8 hours, so I do this over a period of a few days. Cover with tinfoil and then tie up with kitchen twine to make a handle:). Check your water levels from time to time and don't forget to turn off the burner if you leave the house (oh, yes, I did that!).
Once it's steamed, then cool off and then transfer to a plate, add some holly and icing if you like.
The part I remember the most when I was really young was the lighting of this pudding. Pour on some brandy and light on fire for special effects and oohing and ahhing from your guests!
Happy Holidays to you all, I wish you and your family good health and happiness, and I hope that you are keeping some traditions going this season as well!
History of the Christmas Pudding
*courtesy of History.com
In America, Christmas Pudding (also known as plum pudding or figgy pudding) is a dish as famous as it is misunderstood.
Christmas pudding has its roots in medieval English sausages when fat, spices, and fruits (the best preservatives of their day) were mixed with meats, grains, and vegetables and packed into animal stomachs and intestines so they would keep as long as possible. The first records of plum puddings date to the early 15th century, when “plum pottage,” a savory concoction heavy on the meat and root vegetables, was served at the start of a meal. Then as now, the “plum” in the plum pudding was a generic term for any dried fruit—most commonly raisins and currants, with prunes and other dried, preserved, or candied fruit added when available. By the end of the 16th century, dried fruit was more plentiful in England and plum pudding made the shift from savory to sweet. The development of the pudding cloth—a floured piece of fabric that could hold and preserve a pudding of any size—further freed the pudding from dependence on animal products (but not entirely: suet, the fat found around beef and mutton kidneys, has always been a key ingredient).
By the mid-1600s, plum pudding was sufficiently associated with Christmas that when Oliver Cromwell came to power in 1647 he had it banned, along with Yule logs, carol-singing, and nativity scenes. To Cromwell and his Puritan associates, such merry-making smacked of Druidic paganism and Roman Catholic idolatry. In 1660 the Puritans were deposed and Christmas pudding, along with the English monarchy, was restored. Fifty years later, England’s first German-born ruler, George I, was styled the “pudding king” after rumors surfaced of his request to serve plum pudding at his first English Christmas banquet.
As with many English-derived Christmas traditions, the standard form for Christmas pudding solidified during the Victorian era, when English journalists, political leaders, and novelists (not least Dickens himself) worked to promulgate a standardized, family-friendly English Christmas. Among England’s poor, Christmas-saving clubs sprung up to help housewives lay away pennies throughout the year to purchase pudding ingredients come Christmastime. Families throughout England began to celebrate the last Sunday before Advent —in which the Book of Common Prayer’s liturgy includes a prayer that begins, “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people”—as “Stir-up Sunday,” in which family members take turns stirring up the Christmas pudding-to-be, which was then wrapped and boiled and set aside to mature until Christmas Day. By the 19th century, the ingredients were more or less standardized to suet, brown sugar, raisins and currants, candied orange peel, eggs, breadcrumbs, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and plenty of alcohol.
Over the past century, the Christmas pudding has slimmed down and simplified somewhat, according to modern tastes. The pudding-bag, in which the pudding is twice-boiled, is often replaced with molds shaped like a half-melon or bundt cake. Instructions for lighting the brandy sauce prior to serving include numerous fire-safety caveats. The pudding’s pagan roots are now celebrated rather than swept under the Christmas-tree skirt!