The home baking resurgence of the last decade (or, dare I say it, ‘The Bake Off Effect’) has been the perfect reminder of just how well we British do desserts. Puddings old, new, familiar and obscure have enraptured the nation, inspired a new army of home cooks and, ultimately, reminded us all that a little bit of what you fancy does you good.
Christmas - perhaps more than any other holiday - brings with it a plethora of baking rituals and traditions. From cakes to pies to enriched buttery bread doughs, this is the moment for the big, bold flavours of citrus, dried fruit, perfumed spices and deep, amber liquors to take centre stage. I am never happier or more comforted than when these familiar scents and tastes creep back into my cooking.
But living the busy lives that we do, it’s not always possibly to find the time to prepare, steam and mature a delicious pudding yourself. And so when Christmas pudding heavyweights Matthew Walker got in touch to invite me to celebrate the first annual National Pudding Day with them, I needed little persuasion.
For those of you that might not know, Matthew Walker is the oldest Christmas pudding maker in the world. Established in Derbyshire in 1899 by a farmer’s son, the recipes and ingredients have barely changed over the past century. As the largest Christmas pudding maker in the UK and (*swoon*) the producer of Heston Blumenthal’s hidden orange puddings that caused hysteria and shortages in 2010, Matthew Walker evidently know their stuff.
And in my book, a day to celebrate the great diversity of puddings available to buy and enjoy over this season is a very good day. Be it 12 or 18-month matured, gold dusted, bejewelled or concealing a hidden-surprise centre, there are so many ways to celebrate and enjoy this time-tested classic this year. You can find out more about National Pudding Day on Facebook and Twitter - follow the conversation on #PuddingLove.
Call me predictable, but the increased opportunity to indulge my sweet tooth is one of my favourite things about the festive season.
What are your favourite festive desserts?
This post was kindly sponsored by Matthew Walker but, as always, all views and recommendations are entirely my own.