|A Christmas pudding from Mrs Beeton|
Christmas Countdown Day 16
Christmas pudding has been part of British Christmas tradition for centuries. It contains dried fruits, nuts and spices along with suet and brandy of other liqueurs. The Christmas pudding is sometimes called a plum pudding or plum duff and it's probably what the 'Figgy Pudding' was in the well known carol We Wish You a Merry Christmas. The puddings dark colour is largely thanks to the black treacle and dark brown sugars used to make it.
The puddings were traditionally made at home and boiled for hours. In the past the pudding would be cooked in the copper, a large copper drum set into a brick structure with a fire box below, usually used for doing the laundry. The shape of the pudding was determined by the way it was cooked. If boiled in a pudding cloth, it would be quite rounded, like a cannon ball; if boiled in a pudding basin, it would be dome shaped.
|A dolls' house Christmas pudding by Delph Miniatures!|
It was also traditional to include some small charms, or a silver sixpence into the mixture. this was sometimes referred to as The Year's Luck, and whoever got the charms or sixpence was in for wealth and happiness in the coming year. These days, most people buy a ready-made pudding, and health and safety rules won't allow such small tokens to be included in the mixture!
Another tradition is to have the pudding set alight, which is really the brandy ignited, which gives a lovely blue flame, and of course a little sprig of holly for Christmas!
Charles Dickens talks of Christmas puddings in A Christmas Carol in a scene where the Ghost of Christmas Present takes Scrooge to see Christmas at the Cratchit's house...
...Mrs Cratchit left the room alone - too nervous to bear witnesses - to take the pudding up and bring it in. Suppose it should not be done enough! Suppose it should break in turning out!... All sorts of horrors were supposed.
Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. A smell like a washing-day! That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastrycook's next door to each other, with a laundress's next door to that! That was the pudding! In half a minute Mrs Cratchit entered - flushed, but smiling proudly - with the pudding, like a speckled cannon ball, so hard and firm, blazing in hlaf of half a quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.
Oh, a wonderful pudding!...