The 25thof December is here just next week! Around this time in the United Kingdom, lots of families like to celebrate, decorate their houses and put up shiny Christmas trees. But does this stop them from spending time in the kitchen, too, and making some tasty holiday dishes? Of course not. I brought you two sweet and traditional desserts that have been always popular in Great Britain.
If you don’t really like sugar, don’t run away! Even if you’d like to make any of them, there are a lot of versions and recipes of these dishes. You can always use something else instead of the sugars.
History of the Christmas Pudding
Also known as Plum Pudding or “pud”, its story goes way back to the Middle Ages. In the 14thcentury, it was more like porridge (you know, the breakfast cereal dish), but with heavy, meat ingredients, plus alcohol, currants, prunes, raisins, and more. Interesting combo, isn’t it?
By the 16thcentury, the recipe had changed. Eggs and breadcrumbs were also added to the bowl – it wasn’t a soup anymore.
Later in 1714, King George I decided to have the pudding on the Royal menu at Christmas, because he thought it was so delicious. It became an even more popular choice for families as well: to make this dessert, people didn’t need to buy an expensive oven and bake it. The preparation was very simple, so more families could enjoy it. The most important ingredients now weren’t really meats, but people added more dried fruit, spirits, and sugar.
The Christmas Pudding in the 19thcentury was finally very similar to the ones that we make these days.
- Traditionally, while making the pudding, each and every family member comes to the mixing bowl and stirs it with a wooden spoon. They take turns.
- A long time ago, the recipe had only 13 ingredients for a religious reason. It meant one ingredient for Jesus, and the others for the Twelve Apostles.
- The top of the pudding has been decorated with holly for ages. It brings good luck!
- Do you know what also brought good luck? Imagine eating this pudding and then suddenly feeling something metal in your mouth! Well, people used to put a silver coin in the pudding. If you had found it, it would have brought you lots of happiness and luck, and … some money – a silver coin!
History of the British Christmas Cake
Again, another delicacy full of dried fruit. Its origin is the Plum Pudding, which you already know now. This one, however, is more of a proper cake today! The main ingredients are juicy currants, raisins (multiple types), and rum. The cake usually has icing on it, so it’s even sweeter. Also, it is easier to decorate it this way. People usually put nuts or write something nice on the cake.
Although there is no special rule on when to eat the cake, during Victorian times, people enjoyed it with their afternoon teas.
In Yorkshire, northern England, it is very common to have some local cheese with the Christmas Cake.
Scottish people’s version of this traditional cake is known as the Whisky Dundee. It is a lighter dessert, with much less dried fruit. And of course, as its names suggests, it has Scotch Whisky in it.
Are you going to try any of these historical desserts this year? If you are curious, I would definitely recommend it. You can have a lot of fun while making it, or if you prefer to only enjoy the taste, you can buy a Christmas Cake at many shops.