21 November 2006

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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.

The first recipes of this pudding came from the Middle Ages. The ingredients for mince pie, as it was then called, were chopped poultry, pheasant, partridge, and rabbit. Later sugar, apples, raisins, and candied oranges and lemons were added. In 1595, spirits, dried fruit, eggs, and breadcrumbs were added to the recipe and it became plum pudding. In 1664, it was banned by the Puritans as a lewd custom unfit for people who followed the ways of God.

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 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!

Some families add coins to the pudding for luck. Everyone then stirs the pudding and makes a wish. Those who get the coins in their serving get wealth, health, happiness, and their wish will come true. Some people even add gold rings to the mix to indicate the finder will get married in the coming year.

Source: Matthew Walker Christmas Pudding Information Service, Hungrymonster.com, Creative Marketeam Canada Ltd., Welford and Wickham Primary School, West Berkshire, England, Didyouknow.cd

Mrs Mackie's Christmas Pudding Recipe

A traditional recipe for a rich dark moist pudding. Ideal to be served with a brandy or whisky sauce.

The Ingredients to make 2 x 2 pound or 4 x 1 pound puddings
3 ounces of flour
5 ounces of bread crumbs
5 ounces of suet
1¼ pounds of mixed dried fruit
1 small orange
1 small lemon
1 small cooking apple
2 eggs
1 tablespoonful of treacle
½ teaspoonful of mixed spice
½ teaspoonful of cinnamon
½ teaspoonful of nutmeg
1 small carrot
6 ounces of sugar (brown or white)
4 ounces of candid peel
Pinch of salt

To make 4 x 2 pound or 8 x 1 pound puddings
5 ounces of flour
10 ounces of bread crumbs
10 ounces of suet
2½ pounds of mixed dried fruit
2 small oranges
2 small lemons
1 cooking apple
4 eggs
2 tablespoonfuls of treacle
1 teaspoonful of mixed spice
1 teaspoonful of cinnamon
1 teaspoonful of nutmeg
1 carrot
11 ounces of sugar (brown or white)
6 ounces of candid peel
1 pinch of salt

The Method of Mixture

Mix flour, bread crumbs, suet, and mixed dried fruit into a large bowl. Add grated orange and lemon rind and juice. Add grated cooking apple. Mix well. Add eggs, treacle, spices and grated carrot. Add sugar, candid peel and salt. Mix well. (Optional ingredient tablespoon of whisky or brandy).

Allow mixture to stand over night in a covered bowl.

Place mixture into well greased pudding bowls. Cover with grease proof paper and secure with string.

Pressure cook according to pressure cooker instructions.

Allow to mature for approximately one month before final serving, "watering" regularly with brandy.

When ready to serve:

Warm through using a saucepan of water on a low heat for two hours approximately, being careful not to let any water enter the pudding or the saucepan to boil dry.


The pudding may then be flamed at the table.
Pour over the pudding two tablespoons of high proof whisky and set alight.
Ideally serve with a brandy or whisky sauce.

Brandy Sauce
175ml (6fl oz) Milk 80ml (3fl oz) Brandy
2 egg Yolks
1 level tsp Arrowroot or Cornflour
1 tsp Light Brown Sugar
Blend arrowroot with a little cold milk.
Heat the remaining milk and when boiling stir it into the blended arrowroot.
Return mixture to pan and bring back to boiling point.
Mix together egg yolks, brandy and sugar.
Allow the arrowroot sauce cool a little, whisk into the egg mixture.
Cook without boiling, while whisking until the sauce thickens, if too thick add a little milk or cream to. Serve hot

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