Come September, or mid-October at the latest, two ritual exercises would take place in the Gallacher household. The first was the mixing of the Christmas Cake and the second was the mixing of the Christmas Pudding.
My mother learned the recipes from her mother, they were probably passed down through several generations.
Here are the recipes of that time:
8 ounces (225g) butter, 8 ounces (226g) castor sugar, 4 ounces (113g) mixed peel, 4 ounces (113g) sultanas, 8 ounces (226g) currants, 6 ounces (170g) of raisins, 4 ounces (113g) almonds (can be omitted), 5 eggs, 2 teaspoons of allspice and 12 ounces (340g) of flour.
Stone the raisins, clean the currants and sultanas, shred the peel and sieve the flour and spices together. Blanche and slice the almonds if used. Line a greased cake tin with double paper. Cream the butter and sugar thoroughly, add the eggs one at a time, beating well. Stir the fruit and flour gently to the other ingredients. Bake in a moderate oven for three and a half hours.
Everyone in the house had a spell of stirring the great bowl that the cake mixture held.
Then there was the Christmas pudding.
Here’s the recipe used for many a Gallacher Christmas Pudding.
12 ounces (350g) of breadcrumbs, 12 ounces (350g) suet, 1 pound (450g) raisins, 8 ounces (225g) sultanas, 8 ounces (225g) currants, 8 ounces (225g) mixed candied peel, 1 teaspoon of mixed spice, half a teaspoon of ground ginger, 1 teaspoonful ground allspice, half a grated nutmeg, 8 eggs, half a gill (70 mls) of brandy.
Chop the suet, clean the currants and sultanas, stone the raisins, chop or shred the candied peel, mix all together in a basin with the spices. Beat up the eggs, stir them to the other ingredients, add the brandy, and stir all and stir till thoroughly mixed. Have ready two greased pudding basins, fill them to the top with the pudding, tie down with a cloth, dipped in boiling water and well floured, plunge into boiling water and boil steadily for eight hours.
Take up, and when wanted boil for another two hours or rather more.
Once again, everyone in the household took their turn at stirring. The aroma from the pudding, while cooking, wafted through the house.
What a treat it was to sample both the cake and the pudding.
At Christmas, we would have a large Capon augmented with sausages, roast potatoes and Brussels Sprouts which were “in season” during the Christmas period. At that time, chicken was something of a luxury and quite expensive compared with the other meats available. It was not on our menu between Christmases.
Root vegetables like carrot, Swede, parsnip and turnip were all available during the winter months, because they could be stored.
Next chapter: Chapter 6: The Delivery Men