Christmas pudding is the dessert traditionally served on Christmas Day and is part of a good old fashioned Holiday Baking Tradition. It has its origins in England, and is sometimes known also as plum pudding. Eating Christmas pudding was once banned by Oliver Cromwell in the 17th century because he believed the ritual of flaming the pudding harked back to pagan celebrations of the winter solstice.
Essentially the recipe brings together what traditionally were expensive or luxurious ingredients - notably the sweet spices that are so important in developing its distinctive rich aroma.
Christmas pudding is a steamed pudding, heavy with dried fruit and nuts, and usually made with suet. It is very dark in appearance - effectively black - as a result of the dark sugars and black treacle in most recipes, and its long cooking time. The mixture can be moistened with the juice of citrus fruits, brandy and other alcohol.
What makes it perfect?
The perfect pudding should be dense, moist and oozing decadence of rich fruits and brandy. Making one does take time with at least 13 ingredients (to represent Christ and his disciples) to weigh, time to marinate and steaming which takes at least 7 hours. But, once made, put away in a cool, dry place, needs only a further hour steaming on the day itself.
There are numerous recipes for Christmas pudding, some dark and rich others lighter. Some are from traditional chefs, other recipes have been handed down some handed down through families for generations even. Some people use beef suet and others vegetarian suet for a lighter pudding. Whichever you decide on, you will only need a small slice after dinner and the beauty of the pudding is it reheats well - perfect for Boxing Day.
Flaming the Pudding
Flaming the pudding is another tradition, believed to represent the passion of Christ, and again is an essential part of all traditions happening on Christmas day. The flaming of the pudding needs a steady hand and for safety reasons, not be someone who has enjoyed too much wine.
- Half-fill a metal ladle, or similar, with brandy and carefully heat over a gas flame or lit candle.
- When the flame is hot enough, the brandy will light.
- Pour the flaming brandy over the pudding. Make sure the lights are out when taking to the table for a grand entrance.
- Once the flames have subsided, serve with a brandy butter, brandy sauce or home-made custard.