As you know, I’m a big The Archers fan and, when Stir Up Sunday comes around on the first Sunday of Advent every year, I listen enviously to everyone at Brookfield Farm gathering around their Aga – they must have an Aga, surely? – as Jill Archer makes her Christmas puddings, and everyone in the family stirs and makes a wish. Why envious? Because I’ve never actually made a Christmas Pudding myself. I know! This veteran cook of maybe 40 Christmas lunches has never dared to make her own pudding!
I really have no idea why I found the thought of making my own Christmas pudding so intimidating. Is it, perhaps, another British tradition to which I feel I’m only a Johnny-come-lately visitor? Maybe it’s the Blue Peter-esque faff with basins and string and muslin that’s always put me off because I don’t see myself as the most dextrous person in the world. I think my oddly-proportioned knitting creations can attest to that. And plus I’m never ready to gear myself up for Christmas by Advent Sunday either. Is it because, as an atheist, I don’t possess the structure of the Christian Calendar? I don’t know. Goodness I’m a tortured soul, aren’t I? Not like that @Annette1Hardy, whose Christmas pudding is long done and dusted. She’s even made one as a gift to take to a party, if you please!
This year, another Stir up Sunday came and went but I did manage to spend most of the afternoon writing Christmas cards. And when I happened to mention that I’d never made a Christmas Pudding, my dear and esteemed friend Dr Catherine Tomas came to the rescue with Eliza Acton’s recipe from 1845. I’ve already had some success with steak and kidney pudding using a plastic pudding basin with a click-on lid but Kate feels that a ceramic basin is best to achieve a good colour as it maintains the heat of cooking.
A couple of clicks on the Lakeland website sorted out the pudding basin issue and today I made my very first Christmas pudding, stirring as the recipe insists, after the addition of each ingredient. We felt that a 5p piece could have presented a choking hazard. A pound coin was a rather-too-alarming reminder of hyper-inflation in the Weimar Republic or Zimbabwe, so we settled on a 10p piece as a reasonably non-inflationary alternative. Everyone in the house stirred the mixture and made a wish except the dogs as they do not have opposable thumbs and Oscar is far too heavy to lift up to kitchen island height. Who knows what they would wish for, anyway?
I hope that this is a new tradition for me and that one day I’ll be like Grandma Jill Archer, surrounded by several generations of family all stirring and making wishes. I hope that I’ll not be as deranged as Jill currently sounds, though. So my pudding in its basin is in the steam oven right now for three hours and then I’ll tie it up with the muslin and red ribbon supplied in the Lakeland kit. And then wait until Christmas lunch for the proof of the pudding is in the eating, obviously.*
*People saying “The proof is in the pudding,” is a bugbear of mine.