Each holiday has its own traditional food and drink fare to mark the occasion: from candies at Halloween, to chocolate eggs at Easter, and Christmas is no exception. For most of us the humble Christmas Pudding has been one of the longest standing traditional foods of the festive season, but we might not know what it actually is or where it’s come from.
A short history
Otherwise – or maybe better known – as a Figgy Pudding, the yuletide dessert was made famous with the Christmas carol lines ‘Oh bring us a Figgy Pudding’ in the classic Christmas song ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’. The name of the dessert as pudding may be confusing for many Americans who are used to softer, more yoghurt textured puddings in their diets.
The classic Christmas Pudding however originated in England as far back as back as medieval times. The early recipes for the pudding focus mainly on the ingredients of plums – giving it its other alternative name of Plum Pudding. Legend (though significantly unsubstantiated) has it that the so-called Pudding King, King George 1’s sweet tooth led to his request for the dish at his 1714 royal Christmas Feast.
Elsewhere the popular pudding first appeared as a recipe also in 1714, in a recipe book by Mary Kettilby titled ‘A Collection of above Three Hundred Receipts in Cookery, Physick and Surgery’.
Puddings are often comprised of nutty, fruity or chocolatey flavours depending on taste. Cloth bags are used to hold mixtures of dried fruits, nuts, breadcrumbs, flour and treacle together and form the iconic mound shape of the pudding. For non-vegetarians, beef fat coming from the loins or kidneys acts as a binder or another traditional ingredient is suet. Legend has it that hiding a coin in the middle of the pudding will bring both good luck and health to the person that finds it, adding a fun twist to an otherwise simple but sweet dessert.