Thursday, 26 November 2009

Christmas Pudding: Part 1

A couple of weeks ago while I was strolling around a market in a lovely little town in Gran Canaria I came across several stalls selling linens. More specifically they were selling Christmas themed linens; tablecloths, tea towels and aprons, all decorated with Santas, pointsettias, angels, etc... It reminded me of when I was a child when the Sears Christmas Catalogue would arrive and I would spend ages looking through the pages of Christmassy homewares. I could not understand why my mom did not have reindeer patterned plates, it seemed like an important element missing from our lives. I decided that when I grew up I would have my very own set of Christmas themed table settings. Looking at them now I could only laugh as they seemed especially absurd given the 28 °C temperature and blazing sunshine. It reminded me that before i left for my relaxing holiday in the sun I had mixed my Christmas puddings and would need to steam them upon my return.

I love making Christmas puddings, it is such a long process involving several steps but I love each one. I love shopping for the ingredients and liberally pouring in the brandy. I love the stirring up and calling E. into the kitchen to have a few stirs, I love tying up   the puddings and I love the six hours of steaming each pudding (or slightly less as I made some smaller puds this year). I love giving home-made pudding to people as gifts as they are always so excited. I love saturating it with warmed brandy and then setting it alight.

The wonderful thing about Christmas puddings is that you can change the ingredients to suit your own tastes. Don't like almonds, that's okay use pecans or hazelnuts. Not a fan of brandy, use rum. Big nutmeg fan, add more!

Christmas Pudding
Adapted from
Gary Rhodes 
225 g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
225 g white breadcrumbs
250 g shredded suet
100 g ground almonds (I also added a handful of whole almonds)
500 g soft dark brown sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp grated nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
3-4 peeled carrots, grated
175 g stoned prunes, finely chopped
600 g mixed currants, sultanas & raisins (I used luxury mixed fruit)
100 g chopped mixed peel
50 g candied ginger, chopped
100 g glace cherries
2 apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
Juice & grated zest of 1 orange & 1 lemon
5 eggs
125 ml brandy (or liquor of your choice)
4 tbsp black treacle
4 tbsp golden syrup
300 ml Guinness

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and spices. Add the breadcrumbs, suet, ground almonds and brown sugar Add the chopped prunes, grated carrots, dried fruit, mixed peel, apples and lemon & orange zest. Beat the eggs together and stir into the dry ingredients along with the lemon & orange juices, rum, treacle, golden syrup and Guinness.

Mix the ingredients are well incorporated and fairly gloopy, now call anyone in the house to help stir- clockwise for good luck. Don't forget to make a wish!

Cover the bowl with cling wrap and refrigerate for up to one week to allow the mix to mature.

r into greased and floured pudding bowls, tie and steam steam steam  ! I used 2x 1litre bowls and 2x 500ml bowls. I steamed the larger puds for six hours and the smaller puds for 4 hours. Make sure that the water comes up about halfway up the side of the pudding in either a steamer basket or use an upturned saucer. Steam longer if you want a deeper colour for your pudding. If you wish to add the traditional 50 pence peace remember to clean well by soaking in vinegar or soda water.

Once cool, re-tie the pudding using clean foil and parchment and store until the big day.

On Christmas day steam for another hour and half to two hours and serve with brandy butter or cream.

In Part 2 I will tell you about the time I stole (I mean liberated) a piece of holly from a Madrid Hotel to top my pudding.

Stay Tuned


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