Today is "Stir-up Sunday." There's an old tradition in Britain that Christmas puddings should be mixed up and steamed on the last Sunday before Advent so they can "mature" in time for Christmas.
This is the first Christmas since we've been together (coming on sixteen years! suddenly I feel so old, lol) that we'll be in the US for the holidays. I didn't want Himself to feel too homesick, so I was determined to make the British-style Christmas goodies, both the steamed pudding and the Icing-and-marzipan covered Christmas cake.*
*Christmas cake is a lot like the standard British wedding cake: dense, heavy, full of fruit and with no small amount of brandy.
To that end, I brought some ingredients with me, things I can't find in the US, as well as the only pan I've been able to bake the Christmas cake in and a special pudding basin that helps me turn out a nice round ball of a pudding. I'm not sure Mrs Cratchit could do better!
I mix up the ingredients on The Day, but I won't steam my pudding until tomorrow. I follow one of Delia Smith's recipes and she says to let it sit overnight, so... I do.
Now, I'll be honest and admit I don't touch 'em. Christmas puddings are totally alien to me and maybe they're an acquired taste. I'm not terribly fond of fruitcake or raisins cooked into food, either, so maybe that plays a part in my not caring for them.
Nonetheless, the Brits in my life tell me I turn out a pretty good traditional pudding. I don't know as I can take much credit - this being Delia's recipe and all - but I know when a gracious "Thank You" is in order.
I've had my ups and downs with the Christmas cake, too, but Himself assures me even the not-so-great ones I've turned out still beat store-bought. I'll take him at his word: like the pudding, I don't care for them. They are dark, dense fruitcake, like the puddings booze-laden, and just not to my taste. But as long as he likes 'em, why, that's all that's required. As for me, I'll stick with red velvet.
Sitting in the kitchen tonight:
The fruit for the cake is macerating (more brandy!) so I'll be making that tomorrow as well. I'm a bit late getting to the cake, as you're supposed to "feed" it brandy a couple of times a week for several weeks in the lead-up to Christmas. Usually I make it in October. Still, as long as I bake it right, I think it'll be fine.
I'll keep you posted.
G'night, Sparklers, wherever you are--!