An ode to Christmas pudding
Nothing tastes more nostalgic than a proper Christmas pudding. All that dark boozy fruit and rich suet centre… They’re the pinnacle of the festive feast and one of the last of the old school recipes that still gets passed down through the generations.
My Nana’s sago plum pudding, served alight with brandy and gold coins buried at the bottom of the dish is a firm family staple. The only problem is that because she never wrote her recipes down, re-creating it without her has required a bit of imagination.
But that’s not always the case. Just yesterday a friend posted her grandmother’s 1966 Christmas pudding recipe on Facebook.
Close up you could see the crinkles and spills of more than 40 years worth of Christmas feasts and the scrawled blue handwriting of a generation who shopped, cooked and lived without swiping anything.
“No one writes like that anymore,” my friend posted. But it’s the handwriting that makes these old recipes so wonderful. Sure it might seem messier to keep a tattered piece of paper covered in the remnants of last year’s pudding mix, but it’s hard to imagine passing down an iPad to your grandkids.
This year more of us than ever are opting for a retro Christmas menu. Syrie Wongkaew, the editor of taste.com.au told The Punch that their traditional Christmas pudding recipes have never been more popular, closely followed by rum balls, trifles, shortbread and gingerbread houses.
But a truly traditional Christmas menu, just like our grandparents made, requires a lot more time and planning than most of us probably gave them credit for. In fact, as Valli Little, editor of Delicious Magazine said, by our grandmother’s standards this week is already far too late to get started on a proper Christmas pudding.
“Now we try and do things as quickly as possible, but the Christmas pudding is one thing you cannot rush,” she said.
Generations ago the Christmas pudding was started as early as November when the fruit was prepared and soaked in advance.
“It was called “stir up Sunday” and the whole family would get together to prepare the ingredients, to make sure they gave it enough time to mature before Christmas.
“Each family member was supposed to give the pudding a stir. Each family member was supposed to give the pudding a stir and make a wish,” Little said.
No surprise then that the key to a good pudding is time. A long steaming process; five hours on the first boil to develop the flavour, followed by another two hours on the stove before serving on Christmas day.
“The pudding can also be “fed” if made in advance meaning to add a of spoonful of brandy or rum each day for the week up to Christmas,” said Little.
No wonder it used to taste so good.
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