Christmas pudding or clootie dumpling? Nae contest – Susan Morrison

Some Christmas puddings get more attention than some pets, before they are ceremoniously set on fire (Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)Some Christmas puddings get more attention than some pets, before they are ceremoniously set on fire (Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)
Some Christmas puddings get more attention than some pets, before they are ceremoniously set on fire (Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)
Our English cousins are in a bit of a flap. They have discovered that some five million Christmas puddings get sent to landfill annually.

Not sure why they are so shocked. I’m surprised it’s only five million. People tend to buy it, take a look at it, then say… nah. It’s like the Spangles in the selection box. No-one really wanted them either.

The Christmas pudding is an inferior version of the mighty clootie dumpling. They know. To make the Christmas pudding more impressive, they set fire to it. They pour decent brandy over it, then incinerate it, wasting both booze and pud. You try setting fire to a clootie dumpling and there’s a strong chance it’ll rise up and deck you. Muscular, is our festive after-dinner treat of choice.

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I’ve never quite nailed what the difference is between the pudding and the dumpling, but I think it's something to do with pillowcases. According to my research (BBC Good Food recipe page), the Christmas pudding is a very needy creature.

It seems to be made about three months in advance. They recommend the last Sunday before Advent. I’m not sure when that actually is. We didn’t do the Advent Sunday thing when I was a kid. The only time I ever heard it mentioned was on Blue Peter. Every year they trotted out the instructions for ten and 12-year-old children to make the “Advent Crown”. This involved tinsel, coat hangers, a bauble or two, and candles. Which you lit. Next to flammable 1960s’ tinsel. It was a firebomb, as endorsed by Valerie Singleton, festive firestarter.

English Christmas pudding gets stirred up at the same time, and then you have to look after it. Very demanding, yer Christmas pudding. It must be sealed and stored next to your Christmas cake, which you have to regularly dribble drink over. There are pets who don’t get this level of care.

Then, on Christmas Day, you set fire to it. What is it with the English and fire on Christmas day? It’s either their Advent Crowns blazing away or their puddings.

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In times past, Scotland saw roaring fires in mid-winter, although technically, it was the Vikings who were doing the burning. They would have loved Valerie’s Advent Crown.

The clootie dumpling needs no flame or mollycoddling in the dark to shine on Christmas Day. Take a great bowl, hurl everything you’ve got in it. Sugar by the barrowload, flour by great handfuls, golden syrup by the can. Chuck in bags of dried mixed fruit. A load of coins for the kids to find and choke on. Then pour the lot into a pillowslip. Boil, steam and simmer for about three hours, then wallop the mighty dumpling onto the Christmas table.

A good clootie is so dense it distorts gravity like a sort of mini black hole. You should not be able to get a mobile phone signal behind it. You should not be able to walk after eating it. And eat it we do. This does not go into landfill. It can’t. The sheer density of a mass dumpling dump could send it straight through the Earth’s core, a la ‘China Syndrome’.

And the pillowslip? Ocht, just wash it and use it again. Way more eco-savvy than all that muslin and baking parchment malarkey.

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