We’re on a quest to resurrect this long-forgotten Christmas tradition and put it front and center on your Christmas table. Some aromas, like the perfume of a freshly cut Douglas fir, a slab of chocolate sprinkled with fresh candy canes, and the scent of eggnog blanketing the air, can make you want to chant “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” London’s Christmas pudding, on the other hand, is authentically Christmas for a select few because of its earthy warmth and distinct scent.
I’m on a quest to resurrect this long-forgotten Christmas tradition and put it front and center on your Christmas table. This final sentence may have you scratching your head, wondering what the difference between Christmas pudding and fruitcake is, if there is one at all. I grew up in a home that lacked both, though not for want of trying.
My mother, on the other hand, reminisced fondly of the fragrance of fruitcake from her youth, when the house would fill with the perfume of it being cooked in old coffee cans and wrapped in rum-soaked cheesecloth. Hearing her relate the tale reminds me of the first time I heard my husband talk about his Nan preparing Christmas pudding in a drafty East London terraced home. A plume of steam enveloped the stovetop, keeping the outside cold at bay and encouraging everyone to stay close and drink their tea for the marathon steaming session that eventually left them all smelling like spice for days.
Is christmas pudding the same as fruitcake?
While there are some similarities, they are not the same. Both include dried fruits, chopped nuts, strong spices, and are steeped for weeks in a chilly dark place, but that’s where the similarities stop. Fruitcake, in addition to being a loaf, is created with a butter batter that is thick, solid, and has the strange feeling of being dry like pound cake yet moist and crumbly when cooked to perfection. In contrast, it’s a quick baking procedure that needs little preparation.
A Christmas Pudding, on the other hand, is a suet-based cake that is steamed for hours, resulting in a rich, moist, and crumbly texture that is better served in a bowl rather than a plate. Making a Christmas Pudding necessitates wrapping pudding basins in parchment and foil, tying them with string, and suspending them in the correct quantity of boiling water that must be nourished and maintained level for hours. Therefore, the answer to is christmas pudding the same as fruitcake, is no.
Time, love, and the bravery to go big and bold are all required to prepare a Christmas Pudding. If I had to compare it to anything, it would be the newly baked crust on a summer tart, the delicate toasted meringue on a spring lemon pie, and the homemade jam swirling through your fall marble Bundt cake.
There are a variety of Christmas pudding recipes, each with small differences based on the family.
All of the recipes have four things in common: big proportions of fragrant robust spices, heaping cups of dried fruit, a celebratory dosage of liquor, and, most importantly, never skimp on the suet. The Sunday before Advent is traditionally devoted to the festive kitchen, and in particular, Christmas Pudding. This is not a day for multitasking; instead, grab your kitchen with both hands and hold it close, just as you would while removing your boiling hot and unexpectedly thick pudding, which has been made even heavier by the steaming process that puts it all together.
Being bound to the kitchen ushers in the holiday season and fills the home with the smells of blended spices, nutmeg, cinnamon, and candied peel, setting it apart from any other festive delight. As the pudding steeps, the citrus and spice fragrances get stronger, reaching a pinnacle when the pudding is cooked. There are enormous benefits for those who can avoid digging into that first dessert, still steaming from its water bath, but for others, it’s an impossible feat to resist delving into that first pudding, still steaming from its water bath.