I hope you made your Christmas pudding today, the last Sunday before Advent. It’s more or less obligatory.
Once upon a time, if you were a good housewife of the parish, you’d have been kneeling at your pew in church as the vicar intoned the words of the Collect for the day:
‘Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people…..’
‘Stir up? Stir up? Oh, goodness me, I haven’t made my Christmas pudding’. And church service over, our good housewife would scuttle home and make it. She’d assemble dried fruits, suet, flour, rich dark muscovado sugar, cinnamon, cloves, eggs, a bottle of barley wine or some other hooch, grate an apple and some lemon zest . Then she’d tip all the ingredients into a bowl, and gather all her family around to stir the pudding too, and make a wish as they did so. Then she’d spoon the lot into a pudding basin, firmly tie a greaseproof paper lid over it, and steam it for 5 hours or so.
On Christmas day, she’d steam it again. She’d heat brandy, pour it over her pudding, then set the alcohol alight and bring it, flaming bright, to table with a jugful of sherry sauce for all the family to enjoy. We’ll be doing that too.
Today I went walking as usual with Ripon Ramblers, and told them I’d be making my pud later on. They thought I was frankly bonkers. Everyone, it seems, plans to buy their puddings. I don’t care. We’ve had fun measuring, mixing, stirring and wishing. The pudding is steaming as I type. This is the recipe I chose this year. The kitchen’s smelling pretty good at the moment.