The Best British Classic, The Christmas Pudding

History and Tradition of Christmas Pudding

Does your Christmas dinner include a Christmas Pudding? If you lived in England, the absence of this delectable dessert from the holiday table would raise a few eyebrows. The pudding is the most special part of the meal, although families alter the way it’s cooked and presented to create their own unique traditions. Originally the Christmas Pudding was referred to as hakin because of its multitude of ingredients.

In 1714, King George I re-established pudding as part of the Christmas feast even though the Quakers strongly objected. Meat was eliminated from the recipe in the 17th century in favor of more sweets, and people began sprinkling it with brandy and setting it aflame when serving it to their guests. The Christmas pudding was not a tradition in England until it was introduced to the Victorians by Prince Albert. By this time the pudding looked and tasted as it does today. The traditional cooking time takes about eight hours, with preparation taking even longer due to extensive marinating. The longer the fruit is marinated in brandy, cider, or both, the better it tastes and this could take weeks!

Ingredients

225g/8oz golden caster sugar
225g/8oz vegetarian suet
340g/12oz sultanas
340g/12oz raisins
225g/8oz currants
110g/4oz candied peel, chopped
110g/4oz plain flour
110g/4oz fresh white breadcrumbs
55g/2oz flaked almonds
1 lemon, zest only
5 eggs, beaten
1 evel tsp ground cinnamon
1 level tsp mixed spice
5g/1 level tsp freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of salt
150ml/5fl oz brandy or rum
Method

1. Lightly grease 4x600ml/1 pint or 2×1.2 litre/2 pint pudding basins.
2. Mix together all the dry ingredients.
3. Stir in the eggs and brandy and mix well.
4. Spoon the mix into basins. Put a circle of baking parchment and foil over the top of each basin and tie securely with string. Make a string handle from one side of the basin to the other so it is easier to pick the basin out of the pan after cooking.
5. Put the basins in a large steamer of boiling water and cover with a lid. Boil for 5-6 hours, topping the boiling water up from time to time, if necessary. If you do not have a steamer, put the basins in a large pan on inverted saucers on the base. Pour in boiling water to come a third of the way up the sides of the pudding bowls. Cover and steam as before.
6. Cool. Change the baking parchment and foil covers for fresh ones and tie up as before. Store in a cool cupboard until Christmas Day.
7. To serve: steam for 2 hours and serve with brandy butter, rum sauce, cream or homemade custard.
Bon appetit
Bertrand Munier

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