Delia's perfect Christmas puddings
| Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, |
the wills of thy faithful people,
that they plenteously bringing forth
the fruit of good works, may
be of thee plenteously rewarded
The prayer above, the Collect for the 25th Sunday after Trinity, has become synonymous with Christmas puddings and this particular day has long been known as Stir-up Sunday. The great cry 'stir up' was an apt reminder to all congregations to indulge in a bit of human stirring up and get the Christmas pudding made in plenty of time to mature before Christmas. The fruits of this particular good work, the currants, raisins and sultanas, not to mention the nuts, spices and alcohol, will indeed bring their reward – not in this case God's blessing, but instead (once they have all combined and matured) the greatest steamed pudding in the world.
There are those who profess to loathe Christmas pudding. In some cases I suspect they have never tasted the real thing. The average commercial version and, I have to say, many recipes in cookery books bear little resemblance: properly made Christmas pudding is not heavy or cloying, but a sumptuous combination of textures and flavours that have blended together. It is rich, yes, but a small quantity served with a smooth pouring sauce and some chilled dessert wine makes the perfect ending to a perfect meal.
I think it is something of a myth that the longer you keep a pudding, the better it will taste. There is a definite limit and, in all honesty, I much prefer this year's Christmas pudding to last year's. The optimum maturing period is 6-8 weeks, so if you do find you have a pudding left over then I would advise you to freeze it for next year.
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