We all know that Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without our perennial favourite; the Christmas pudding! This Christmas tradition goes back for centuries; before the 1800s it was known as “Plum pudding” or “Figgy pudding”. Let’s have a look at some of the most common questions asked about Christmas pudding.
An established Christmas tradition is to hide a coin in the pudding; having the slice of pudding which the coin is discovered in is considered good luck. People have always stirred lucky charms into their Christmas pudding mixture for good luck. These lucky charms include a silver coin for wealth, a wishbone for luck, a thimble for thrift, a ring for marriage, and an anchor for safe harbour.
Here’s a fun fact; Plum pudding has actually never contained plums!
Traditionally a Christmas pudding is made with dried fruit, nuts, candied peel and spices. Ordinarily, people will make their puddings weeks in advance and preserve them so that the fruits and spices have time to mature. After the initial cook, you can feed the pudding more alcohol so it will keep until Christmas.
Many of us have memories of our mothers and grandmothers boiling puddings outside. They used to make the pudding several weeks before Christmas and hang them in the pantry by a cloth. Older generations have been using the cloth method for many years, but you can tweak it by cooking in a pudding bowl rather than using the cloth, and keeping the pudding in the fridge instead.
Christmas pudding can last up to six months in a sealed container. It’s a good idea to split it into different portions before freezing to make life easier when you want a piece. Once cooked, you can eat leftover Christmas pudding cold or you can use the leftover pudding for future bakes and desserts. It’s also common to fry Christmas pudding leftovers in butter or goose fat for breakfast on Boxing Day.
Setting the Christmas pudding on fire is an age-old tradition. Some people believe that traditional plum puddings were first set on fire to represent Christ’s passion, and the holly sprig was a reminder of his crown of thorns. Traditional Christmas puddings are set alight with alcohol before serving on a plate in front of a Christmas tree.
When it comes time to steam the pudding mixture, it’s easy to get confused. Looking over different recipes you might see completely different times for steaming - anywhere from 4 hours to 10 hours. If you don’t want to undercook the pudding, then for a very large pudding you should opt for around 8-10 hours of steaming.
Traditionally you steam the pudding, then serve it with either rum, brandy butter, custard or cream. For some, a hot pudding is just too heavy to serve without a cool dairy side!
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