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Christmas pudding
Christmas pudding.JPG
This Christmas pudding is decorated with skimmia rather than holly
Origin
Alternative name(s) Plum pudding, Christmas Pudding, Pud
Place of origin England, United Kingdom
Region or state United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada
Details
Type Pudding
Serving temperature Warm or cold
Main ingredient(s) Sugar, treacle, suet, spices

Christmas pudding is a type of pudding traditionally served as part of the Christmas dinner in Britain, Ireland and in other countries where it has been brought by British emigrants. It has its origins in medieval England, and is sometimes known as plum pudding or just "pud", though this can also refer to other kinds of boiled pudding involving dried fruit. Despite the name "plum pudding," the pudding contains no actual plums due to the pre-Victorian use of the word "plums" as a term for raisins. The pudding is composed of many dried fruits held together by egg and suet, sometimes moistened by treacle or molasses and flavoured with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and other spices. The pudding is usually aged for a month or more, or even a year; the high alcohol content of the pudding prevents it from spoiling during this time.

Basics

Many households have their own recipe for Christmas pudding, some handed down through families for generations. Essentially the recipe brings together what traditionally were expensive or luxurious ingredients notably the sweet spices that are so important in developing its distinctive rich aroma, and usually made with suet. It is very dark in appearance effectively black as a result of the dark sugars and black treacle in most recipes, and its long cooking time. The mixture can be moistened with the juice of citrus fruits, brandy and other alcohol (some recipes call for dark beers such as mild, stout or porter).

Prior to the 19th century, the English Christmas pudding was boiled in a pudding cloth, and often represented as round. The new Victorian era fashion involved putting the batter into a basin and then steaming it, followed by unwrapping the pudding, placing it on a platter, and decorating the top with a sprig of holly.

Initial cooking usually involves steaming for many hours. To serve, the pudding is reheated by steaming once more, and dressed with warm brandy which is set alight. It can be eaten with hard sauce, brandy butter, rum butter, cream, lemon cream, ice cream, custard, or sweetened b├ęchamel, and is sometimes sprinkled with caster sugar.

It was common practice to include small silver coins in the pudding mixture, which could be kept by the person whose serving included them. The usual choice was a silver threepence or a sixpence. The coin was believed to bring wealth in the coming year.

Other tokens are also known to have been included, such as a tiny wishbone (to bring good luck), a silver thimble (for thrift), or an anchor (to symbolise safe harbour).

Once turned out of its basin, decorated with holly, doused in brandy (or occasionally rum), and flamed (or "fired"), the pudding is traditionally brought to the table ceremoniously, and greeted with a round of applause.

After Christmas

Christmas puddings have very good keeping properties and many families keep one back from Christmas to be eaten at another celebration later in the year, often at Easter. Constance Spry records that it was not uncommon to go so far as to make each year's pudding the previous Christmas.

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