Welcome to Dr. Frederick Douglass Opie's personal website

AB, 101 Fast Food Head Shot.2jpg.jpg

Christmas Food Traditions in the UK

1700 British dinning scene (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)  
By Claire Cullen

The culinary differences in Christmas traditions can be seen in the British propensity to feast on puddings. Christmas pudding, plum pudding, or figgy pudding as it is known in the carol We Wish You A Merry Christmas, is usually eaten in the UK on Christmas Day, as a dessert after the main Christmas meal, and it represents the traditional use in the northern hemisphere of fruits, spices and brandy to celebrate the midwinter turn back towards lengthening days and warmer weather. Dried fruits, nuts, and spices are commonly found in Christmas dishes such as fruitcake, stollen and panettone, and this is a reminder of the difficulty our ancestors would have faced in obtaining these luxuries, particularly during the winter months, when the only fruit available would have to be dried or otherwise preserved. The smells and tastes of Christmas might make us feel festive today, but in the past, they would have been even more special.

Recipe for Christmas Pudding
12 oz fresh white breadcrumbs
12 oz plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
12 oz shredded suet
8 oz caster sugar
8 oz soft brown sugar
half a teaspoon each of ground ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon
6 oz chopped almonds or other nuts
6 oz mixed candied peel, finely chopped
8 oz peeled and chopped apples
10 oz currants
8 oz sultanas
1 lb seedless raisins
rinds and juice of 1 lemon and 1 orange
4 tablespoons brandy
3 large eggs, beaten
about 1/4 pint milk
Other dried fruit can be substituted, such as figs to make a figgy pudding.

1. Mix together the dry ingredients, fruit and nuts.
2. Combine the fruit juices, brandy and beaten eggs and stir into the mixture.
3. Add enough milk to give the mixture a soft consistency, then cover and leave overnight.
4. Stir the mixture then spoon into a greased pudding basin or deep heatproof bowl. Cover the top of the pudding with a circle of greaseproof paper, and then place a circle of foil over this, using string to tie them around the rim of the bowl. Each circle should be about an inch larger than the bowl, around all sides.
5. Place the bowl inside a large pan, half-filled with water. Cover, and steam for 9 hours, topping up the water as necessary.
6. Remove the foil, leaving the paper in place, and leave to cool, then over with a fresh circle of foil, secured with string, and store in a cool, dry place.
7. Use immediately, or store until needed. Steam again for three hours when ready to serve, then turn out onto a serving dish. An alternative to steaming the pudding in a bowl is to take the more traditional route of wrapping it in cloth and boiling it.

*Claire Cullen is a Free Lance Writer

More Pudding Stories and Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Pudding

British Influence on North American Foodways Series with Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=British+Influences+on+North+American+Foodways+

British Influences on American Christmas Traditions

Christmas Food Traditions