“Oh, bring us some figgy pudding!” goes the carol. It’s also known as plum pudding. Today, the traditional Christmas pudding
might well contain currants, raisins, or dates—not just figs or plums. But either way, it’s a dessert rich with tradition over in Britain.
Traditionally, the pudding is prepared weeks ahead of time—on a day called “Stir-Up Sunday,” the last Sunday before Advent. While the phrase comes from the Book of Common Prayer, it’s been associated with the stirring of the batter for the cake. Every member of the family is supposed to make at least one stir, and make a wish. At the same time, a ten-pence piece is worked into the batter; on the day itself, finding the coin in your pudding is said to foretell wealth.
While the traditions behind the Christmas pudding are notable, so is the dessert itself. It ends up nearly the consistency of a cake, the dark, rich batter with suet and liquor-soaked dried fruit is actually boiled—poured into a bowl or a pudding cloth, and submerged for six to eight hours in boiling water. Once cooled, it’s then left to age for weeks, or even months, before Christmas Day. To serve, it’s turned out, doused in brandy, and flamed—a dramatic end to a festive meal.
In a pinch—or a professional kitchen—the hours of steaming and weeks more of aging can be shortened dramatically with a pressure cooker. Will the resulting pudding match Grandmum’s long-matured pud? We’ll leave that one to you.