We now come to some of the desserts and cakes that will grace the Christmas dinner table. We have already explored the creamy delight of the sherry trifle but one traditional favourite that many enjoy is Christmas Pudding.
The Christmas pudding that is available today, for those of us who do not have the skill to make our own, is very different from the original.
It actually began life in the 14th century as a porridge that was savoury and made with beef and mutton with dried fruit such as raisins and the addition of wine and spices. It was actually the ‘slim shake’ of the day and eaten during the run up to any festivities during the year, presumably to leave room for all the goodies they had back then such as a whole deer poached or otherwise. Nothing new in history then!
By 1600 the pudding had evolved to more of a cake consistency with the addition of stale breadcrumbs and eggs. It still contained the spirits and also beer and began to be associated with Christmas. However, there are always spoilsports and in the mid-1600s it was banned by the puritans for being too delicious and sinful by half….
Thankfully it received Royal approval and in 1714, King George I re-established it as part of the Christmas meal, and by Victorian times most who could afford it were enjoying the same kind of steamed pudding that we do today. .
Although eaten at Christmas the pudding itself, like the rich Christmas cake is made several weeks if not months in advance. With the liberal addition of brandy to the mix it would probably last for years! It is then steamed to reheat while the turkey cooks and served with thick custard, ice-cream, brandy butter or whipped cream…
In our family a three penny piece and later a sixpence was always included in the pudding mix and whoever found in the eating of the dessert would have great luck. This tradition was centuries old with various other items used in the same way. That tradition ended in our household when I found the sixpence and lost one of my baby teeth causing a great drama at the festive table. My advice is to buy a top quality pudding from a well-known source and just make the custard….
Today you can buy delicious Christmas puddings that reheat in the microwave and kept in the fridge can provide midnight snacks and heartburn for the next week.. My mother loved cold with a slice of mature cheddar and that goes will with rich fruit cake.
Here are the winners in the UK according to Good Housekeeping and whilst you may find the winner still on the shelves in some stores.. It is sold out online.
WINNER: MARKS & SPENCER THE COLLECTION BELGIAN CHOCOLATE AND ORANGE STAR CHRISTMAS PUDDING – Article written by Good Housekeeping Institute Team October 2016
“A traditional Christmas pudding with a twist, we were spellbound by the chocolate and citrus swirled through this sponge. The gold finish is suitably decadent for your festive celebrations.”
You may have better luck getting hold of the runner up….
“A very moreish pudding packed with plump fruit and beautiful spice. It’s also wonderfully boozy!”
If you live in the UK and want to buy online.. this pudding is only £6.. a bargain.
Find out about the other picks for Christmas pudding this year.
We have always enjoyed Stollen or Christstollen for Christmas with its soft centre of marzipan and luckily we can obtain here at this time of year. Stollen in various forms has been made since the 14th Century in Germany.
The original recipe for Stollen however was very much more austere as they were made very simply with just water and flour. This was because during Advent butter and milk were not permitted to be consumed. It was not until about 1650 that the then Pope was petitioned to allow Stollen bakers to add these more flavoursome ingredients to make the bread more palatable.
Eventually over the centuries the dried fruit, nuts and candied peel have been added along with wonderful spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and mace. There are also versions that include brandy or rum and of course the melt in the mouth marzipan that runs along the centre of the loaf.
Legend says that the Stollen in its typical shape with the white layer of icing sugar symbolized the Christ Child wrapped in diapers.
Here is some more about the history courtesy of one of the most prestigious Stollen bakers
If we look back into history we can see a giant stollen – weighing some 1.8 tonnes,pulled by eight horses – raising cheers in the Saxon court. It has often been told, and this tallies with historical facts, that Saxony’s most famous king, Augustus the Strong, the Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, was passionate about the pleasures of life in all their forms.Augustus loved art, women and grandiose festivals. And he loved Dresden Christstollen®. In 1730 the Saxon king put on a magnificent display at the Zeithain Encampment.
The four weeks the court spent at the military exercises were crowned by a huge festival: 24,000 guests were invited to an opulent meal which ended with the serving of this giant stollen.Johann Andreas Zacharias, a master baker from Dresden, baked the stollen in a specially built oven. Eight days of heating with beechwood provided the correct temperature and roughly 100 bakers and master bakers completed the task of baking the giant stollen together. It was cut with a specially designed 1.6-metre knife.
I hope you are enjoying the posts on Christmas food and drink with more to come during the next few days. Your feedback is always welcomed.. Thanks Sally