The making of Christmas Pudding is a British tradition that goes back hundreds of years. In my own house growing up, Christmas dinner would not have been complete without a bowl of steamy hot pudding to finish the meal.
Figgy puddings are another Christmas treat, made popular as one of the verses of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Unlike their plum cousins, they live up to their name and are actually made with figs.
Traditional Christmas pudding is often served with something known as “hard sauce.” This is a cold mixture consisting mainly of butter, sugar, cream, and vanilla, although I have seen at least one recipe incorporating egg yolk as well. The cold sauce would melt over the hot pudding to create a delectable sweet treat.
Our family Christmas Pudding is actually a carrot pudding. This is another popular variation, especially among British Canadians. Unlike its cousins above, it is most often served with a brown sugar sauce.
Although I did not find the original recipe among my great-grandmother’s collection, I do have the recipe for “Christmas Pudding” written in my grandmother’s hand with the word “Mother” inscribed in the corner. Unfortunately, the recipe for the brown sugar sauce of my childhood was lost when my grandmother passed on, as no one seems to have ever written it down. I attempted several recipes trying to recreate the flavor of my childhood and the recipe included below is the closest.
The recipe makes enough for two small puddings, or one large pudding. It freezes extremely well and is easy to reheat simply be re-steaming. I have changed the recipe only slightly from the original to incorporate butter instead of suet.
Cream butter and brown sugar until smooth. Add in raisins, carrot, potato and egg. Stir in flour and baking soda.
Grease 2 small glass bowls or one large bowl. Fill with pudding. Leave about an inch between the top of the pudding and the top of the bowl to give it room to rise.
Cover the bowl with a piece of parchment, followed by a piece of tin foil, secured with string. My grandmother used a clean piece of muslin instead of the parchment.
The pudding can be steamed in a double boiler, or you can place the pudding in a large pot, placing the pudding bowl on a small ramekin or mason jar ring to keep it off the bottom of the pot. Pour water in the bottom to no more than 1/3 of the way up the sides of the bowl.
Steam the pudding for 2 – 3 hours, or until a toothpick comes out clean. My small puddings are usually done at 2 hours, with a large pudding taking the full three. Add additional hot water to your pot as necessary to keep your pot from boiling dry.
Turn the pudding out onto a plate and serve hot with brown sugar sauce.
If you wish to freeze the pudding, leave it in its bowl and wrap well with plastic wrap. Thaw in the fridge and steam to reheat. We have had puddings survive in the freezer up to a year.
Brown Sugar Sauce
½ cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup milk or cream
1 tsp vanilla
Melt butter in a saucepan. Whisk in brown sugar and continue to stir constantly until boiling. Boil for two minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in milk and vanilla. Return to the heat and stir constantly until the mixture once again comes to the boil. Thin with more milk or cream if necessary. Serve warm.
Andrea is an artisan and teacher trying to live a handmade and homemade lifestyle with her husband in Eastern Canada. She is passionate about growing her own food, cooking healthy meals, using herbs for healing, nurturing creativity, and finding joy and blessings in the every-day moments of life. She writes about all of this, plus her adventures in sewing, crafting, and pattern design at http://www.artisaninthewoods.com/