Holiday Traditions ~ Christmas Pudding
Each year for Christmas I try something new. Last year I made Beef Wellington for our Christmas dinner and a traditional Christmas Pudding for dessert.
For those of you not familiar with the British dish, a Christmas Pudding, or Plum Pudding as it's also called, is a tasty concoction of dried fruits, spices, and brandy. I know, some of you just went straight to ‘fruit cake' didn't you? Well, Christmas Puddings are similar, but oh so different.
Since Christmas Puddings need to be made well in advance to allow it to mature, I wanted to get this post up now, in case any of you are tempted to make a new tradition in your household. Traditionally, the pudding is made on ‘Stir up Sunday' the Sunday before Advent ~ this year that is on November 20th with Advent starting on November 27th.
Don't be put off by the number of ingredients in this recipe, it just seems daunting. If you assemble all your ingredients in advance, it will go super fast.
**soak the dried fruit the night before so it's ready to go on Stir Up day!
- 1 lb dried mixed fruit (golden raisins, raisins, currants, etc) **
- 1 oz. mixed candied peel, finely chopped (buy from the store – don't try to make your own. Trust me on this)
- 1 small cooking apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
- Grated zest and juice of 1/2 large orange and 1/2 lemon
- 4 tbs brandy, plus a little more for soaking at the end
- 2 oz. self-raising flour, sifted
- 1 level tsp ground mixed spice
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 4 oz. shredded suet, beef or vegetarian (okay, I don't know about you, but I don't have a local suet supply. I just used grated butter – make sure it's really cold before shredding)
- 4 oz. soft, dark brown sugar
- 4 oz white fresh bread crumbs
- 1 oz. roughly chopped almonds
- 2 large eggs
Lightly batter a 2 1/2 pint pudding basin (I bought a pudding bowl for this, but you can use any pyrex bowl that can withstand steaming)
**Place the dried fruits, candied peel, apple, orange and lemon juice into a large mixing bowl. Add the brandy and stir well. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and leave to marinate for a couple of hours, preferably overnight.
Stir together the flour, mixed spice and cinnamon in a very large mixing bowl. Add the suet (or butter), sugar, lemon and orange zest, bread crumbs, nuts and stir again until all the ingredients are mixed well. Finally, add the marinated dried fruits and stir again.
Beat the eggs lightly in a small bowl and then stir quickly into the dry ingredients. The mixture should have a fairly soft consistency.
Now is the time to gather the family for the Christmas Pudding Tradition of taking turns in stirring and making a wish.
Spoon the mixture into the greased pudding basin, gently pressing the mixture down with the back of a spoon. Cover with a double layer of waxed paper or parchment paper, then a layer of aluminum foil and tie securely with a string.
Place the pudding in a steamer set over a saucepan of simmering water and steam the pudding for 7 hours. Make sure you check the water level frequently so it never boils dry. The pudding should be a deep brown color when cooked.
Remove the pudding from the steamer, cool completely. Remove the paper, prick the pudding with a skewer and pour in a little extra brandy. Cover with fresh waxed paper and retie with string. Store in a cool dry place until Christmas Day.
On Christmas Day reheat the pudding by steaming again for an hour. When you are ready to serve, turn out the pudding on to a serving place and decorate with a sprig of holly.
Christmas Pudding can be served with brandy or rum sauce, brandy butter, or custard.
Just a couple of fun facts about Christmas Pudding!
Christmas Pudding is traditionally made with 13 ingredients to represent Christ and his disciples.
A proper Christmas Pudding is always stirred from East to West to honor the three Wise Men who visited the baby.
Every member of the family must give the pudding a stir and make a secret wish.
A coin was traditionally added to the ingredients and cooked in the pudding. It was supposed to bring wealth to whomever found it on their plate on Christmas Day. The traditional coin was an old silver sixpence or three penny bit.
Other traditional additions to the pudding have been a ring to foretell a marriage or a thimble for a lucky life. (I don't do this tradition as I'm afraid someone might choke on the coin and that would be a Christmas bummer.)
What are some traditions you've held onto over the years? Do you like to try new ideas or stick with what you know?