English pudding makes a unique addition to the holiday table and could bring good luck in the New Year.

In America we enjoy a number of traditional desserts at Christmas.  Pie is likely the most popular choice, including apple, pumpkin, pecan, and sweet potato.  Gingerbread is also traditional, as are sweets such as fudge, fruitcake, and a variety of cookies.  If you’re thinking of serving something different this year, perhaps try a Christmas pudding.

Christmas pudding is a traditional English dessert that dates back to medieval times.  When you hear the word pudding you probably think of the creamy egg and milk based dessert.  But this pudding consists of a variety of dried fruits held together with eggs, a little flour or breadcrumbs, and suet, which is beef fat from around the kidneys.  The pudding is flavored with molasses and warm spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.  It also contains a large amount of alcohol, usually brandy.  Once the pudding is assembled, it is left to age to allow the flavors to develop.  Some recipes require aging for a month or longer.  The Christmas pudding is cooked by steaming for several hours and then it is typically doused with more brandy and flambéed for serving.   It is often served with a hard sauce, which consists of butter, sugar and some kind of alcohol.

There are several traditions associated with making a Christmas pudding.  It is said that all members of the family must stir the pudding and make a wish while doing so.  The pudding is typically made on the Sunday before Advent (usually at the end of November), which became known as “Stir-up Sunday.”  It is also common practice to put a small coin into the pudding and whoever gets the piece with the coin will have good luck in the coming year.


A traditional Christmas pudding.