A delicious fruity cake slow-cooked to perfection ready for Christmas day. Our Christmas pudding recipe is below.
Origin of Christmas Pudding
Christmas pudding is a type of pudding traditionally served as part of the Christmas dinner. More so in the UK, Ireland and other countries where it has been introduced by Irish and British immigrants.
It has its origins in medieval England, and is sometimes known as plum pudding or just “pud”. This can also refer to other kinds of boiled pudding involving dried fruit. Despite the name “plum pudding”, the pudding contains no actual plums. The name is due to the pre-Victorian use of the word “plums” as a term for raisins.
The pudding is traditionally composed of thirteen ingredients. They symbolise Jesus and the Twelve Apostles. It includes many dried fruits held together by egg and suet. It can sometimes moistened by treacle or molasses and flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spices.
The pudding is usually aged for a month or more, or even a year. The high alcohol content of the pudding prevents it from spoiling during this time.
There is a popular and wholly unsubstantiated myth. In 1714, King George I (sometimes known as the Pudding King) requested that plum pudding be served as part of his royal feast in his first Christmas in England.
As techniques for preserving improved in the 18th century, the savory element of both the mince pie and plum pottage diminished. however, the sweet content increased. People began adding dried fruit and sugar. The mince pie kept its name, though the pottage was increasingly referred to as plum pudding.
Although the latter was always a celebratory dish it was originally eaten at the Harvest festival. It was not until the 1830s that the cannonball of flour, fruits, suet, sugar and spices, all topped with holly, made a definite appearance. Becoming more and more associated with Christmas.
Christmas Pudding Traditions
In the late Victorian period, a tradition grew up that Christmas puddings should be made on or immediately after the Sunday “next before Advent”, i.e. four to five weeks before Christmas. The collect for that Sunday in the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England, as it was used from the 16th century (and still is in traditional churches), reads:
“Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Initially probably a schoolchild joke, latterly the day became known as “Stir-up Sunday”. By the 1920s the custom was established that everyone in the household, or at least every child (and sometimes the servants), gave the mixture a stir and made a wish while doing so.
It was common practice to include small silver coins in the pudding mixture, which could be kept by the person whose serving included them. The usual choice was a silver threepence or a sixpence. The coin was believed to bring wealth in the coming year.
Other tokens are also known to have been included, such as a tiny wishbone (to bring good luck), a silver thimble (for thrift), or an anchor (to symbolize safe harbor).
Once turned out of its basin, decorated with holly, doused in brandy (or occasionally rum), and flamed (or “fired”), the pudding is traditionally brought to the table ceremoniously, and greeted with a round of applause.
Christmas puddings have very good keeping properties and many families keep one back from Christmas to be eaten at another celebration later in the year, often at Easter. It was not uncommon to go so far as to make each year’s pudding the previous Christmas.
- Calico Cloth
- Large Saucepan
- 1/4 cup Sultanas (40g)
- 1/2 cup Currants (80g)
- 3/4 cup Dates chopped, pitted and dried (105g)
- 1/2 cup Silvered Almonds (70g)
- 1/2 tsp Mixed Spice
- 2/3 cup Brandy (160ml)
- 1/3 cup Sherry (80ml)
- 125 g Butter chopped and softened
- 1/4 cup Brown Sugar (45g)
- 1/4 cup Caster Sugar (55g)
- 2 Eggs
- 2/3 cup Plain Flour Sifted (100g)
- 1 1/2 cup Breadcrumbs fresh white (105g)
- Place sultanas, currants, date, almonds, spice, sherry and half of the brandy in a large bowl and stir to combine. Cover and allow to soak in a cool, dark place for 24 hours.
- Place the butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 8–10 minutes or until pale and creamy. Add the eggs and beat until light and fluffy. Add the fruit mixture, half of the flour, and breadcrumbs and mix well to combine.
- Place a 60cm square piece of calico cloth in boiling water and boil for 5 minutes. Carefully remove from the water, allow to cool enough to handle and squeeze to remove excess water. Open the cloth out and sprinkle with the extra flour and evenly rub over the calico. Place the pudding mixture in the center of the cloth.
- Gather the ends of the cloth together firmly. Using kitchen string, tie the cloth as close to the mixture as possible, leaving at least 15cm of string ends. Cook, covered, in a large saucepan of boiling water over medium heat for 4 hours, adding more water if needed.
- Remove from the saucepan, place in a colander, set over a bowl, and refrigerate until cold. To reheat, boil for 45 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Unwrap, pour over the extra brandy.
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