by Ed Halmagyi


When I was a kid Christmas pudding was an extreme sport. Weighing it at somewhere near 8kg, this dense wrecking ball of a dessert had more in common with the massive stones thrown at Scottish Highland Games than with any delicious treat in the known culinary universe.

Amongst the terrified cousins, stories were told of small children reputed to have been pinned down for hours under the weight of a pudding, unable to move or even call for help…

But to make things even more deadly, my late grandmother used to stud her pud with a couple of handfuls of tiny ancient coins. These shrapnel-sized inclusions were of a perfectly measured diameter, expertly suited to sticking in a small child’s windpipe.

Apparently you were lucky if you found a threepence in your slice….lucky indeed that you didn’t miss it I reckon!

At the end of the meal, the coins would be collected up and exchanged for a more contemporary tender. It was like one final gift to round out the festive day.

But remember, if you’re planning on serving up a Christmas pudding this year, the time to start is now. The process takes at least a week, as the fruits have to marinate and steep to allow them to take on the best flavour and texture. The most common reason for pudding catastrophes is a failure to soak the dried fruits for long enough.

And once the pud is boiled is really needs to be matured for at least a couple more weeks, as during this time several changes take place. The consistency softens, the taste intensifies, and the form begins to hold together better meaning that it is less likely to crack when sliced on the big day.

And while you can make a pudding the traditional way in calico, these basin-style recipes are more reliable and less likely to spoil.
Christmas pudding with dates and prunes

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