When it comes to Christmas, every family has little traditions that mark the festive season and make the winter months special. Alongside baking and crafting, one of my favourite activities as a child was making ‘birdy puddings’ each Christmas with my mum. I haven’t made any for several years now, but this year I thought I would keep an old tradition alive and mix up something tasty for my little feathered friends.
For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of bird cake/pudding, it’s basically Christmas pudding for birds (without the alcohol, of course!). My family have never really created an exact recipe for the puddings, as they change each year depending on what scraps of food need using up, but I’ve included a rough outline below of how I made my puddings this year!
- Fat (e.g. vegetable suet, lard etc.)
- Dried fruit (e.g. currants, raisins, sultanas, cranberries, etc.)
- Chopped nuts (e.g. hazel nuts, walnuts, almonds, etc.)
- Moulds (e.g. cookie cutters, yoghurt pots, small bowls, etc.)
- Melt the fat in a large saucepan over a low heat.
- Add the rest of the ingredients gradually and mix thoroughly until all of the fruits, nuts and breadcrumbs are coated in fat, but there is no excess liquid in the bottom of the pan.
- Hold a straw in the centre of each mould and spoon the pudding mixture in around it. Make sure the mixture is very compact, otherwise the puddings may fall apart when they are removed from the moulds.
- Place the full moulds into the fridge and leave them overnight to set.
- In the morning, take the puddings out of the fridge, run a sharp knife along the edges of the moulds and gently ease the puddings out. This is usually slightly easier if the puddings are set in cookie cutters because they can be gently pushed through. If bowls or other closed-bottom containers have been used and the puddings are stuck, heat the edges and bottom of the containers for 30 seconds in some warm water.
- Pull the straws out from the centre of the puddings and thread some string through the available hole.
- Tie the puddings to a tree or bird table in the garden and keep an eye out for little birds enjoying their festive treat!