Christmas Pudding Time
The last Sunday before Advent is called Stir Up Sunday and it is traditionally the day to make the Christmas Pudding. I have to admit to not having vast experience in making Christmas puddings so I am delighted to be handed a recipe from a very experienced and locally well-known Christmas pudding (and cake) queen!
Barbara makes several puddings every year and her puddings are in demand from all her neighbours, friends and family. The key for her is the soaking of all the fruit for two weeks in brandy or sherry before the pudding is put together and steamed.
Stir The Pudding, Make A Wish!
When you make the pudding, it is fun to follow the tradition of everyone giving it a stir and making a wish, so try to make it when the rest of the family. I suspect most people enjoy doing this – even too cool teenagers who may do it reluctantly – but secretly love the feeling of togetherness when doing it. And who doesn’t like making a secret wish and having a little glimmer of hope that the wish could come true?
Even if you are not a great fan of Christmas pudding it tastes so much of Christmas, that as the years go by, and you have it most Christmases, the taste just blends with festive memories and it kind of sums up Christmases past – as well as usually ending in that having had too much to eat feeling that only Christmas can give!
You need to start making this pudding on Stir Up Sunday – or soon afterwards to allow time for the fruit to soak in the alcohol or juice of your choosing.
You will need 2 x2 pint pudding basin (or 1 litre) (or 4 x 1 pint – 500ml basins)
- 250 ml of brandy or sherry (or other favourite including orange juice)
- 170g / 6ozs Sultanas (Pre-soaked)
- 170g / 6ozs Currants (Pre-soaked)
- 500g / 1lb Raisins seedless(Pre-soaked)
- 125g / 4ozs Candied peel (Pre-soaked)
- 125g / 4ozs Glace Cherries (Pre-soaked)
- 125g / 4ozs Flour self raising or plain + 1 tsp baking powder
- 170g / 6ozs Soft brown sugar (half light and half dark brown if you can)
- 3 Eggs
- 170g / 6ozs Beef or Vegetable Suet
- 125g / 4ozs Breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon Golden Syrup
- 1 tablespoon Black Treacle
- 1 tablespoon Marmalade
- 60ml / 2floz Brandy
- 60ml / 2floz Sherry
- 1 medium Apple
- 1 medium Potato
- 1 large Carrot
- 1 lemon
- 1 lime
- 1 orange
- 75g / 2oz Mixed chopped nuts
- 75g / 2oz Ground almonds
- 1/2 teaspoon Mixed Spice
- 1 pinch Ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
- Pinch Salt
- Soak all the dry fruit in Brandy, Whisky, Cherry Brandy, Sherry or any other spirit of your choice, for approx 2 weeks – stirring daily and add whichever alcohol you like to prevent drying out. If preferred fruit juices such as cranberry, orange, apple and pineapple can be used to substitute alcohol.
- Prior to soaking make sure all the fruit is clean and not stuck together.
- Depending on the method being used to cook you need to prepare pans and steamers and put on hob to boil, fill kettle(s) with back up and boil.
- Prepare greaseproof paper and foil for tops and string or tape for tying.
- Using 1 or 2 large mixing bowls or a very clean washing up bowl and a wooden spoon mix all the dry ingredients together,
- Add the fruit, the peeled and grated apple, potato and carrot
- Make a well in the centre and pour in the beaten eggs, brandy, syrup, treacle and marmalade.
- Stir really well, hard work!
- An old custom is for everyone present in the house to have a stir and make a wish so can be good to make when the family are all at home! If mix is still too dry add sherry or stout but making sure the mix does not become too runny. Should this happen add a little more flour.
- Give the pudding mix a final stir and make your wish and leave to stand.
- Grease the pudding basins being used, then spoon mixture in leaving some space at the top for rising, place the greaseproof paper and foil over the top but make a pleat in the middle to allow for expansion.
- Tie string or tape around to hold the foil in place and create a handle for lifting out of the pan or steamer after cooking.
- Gently lower the pudding basin(s) into the steamer or stockpot making sure the water does not come over the top or too high up the pan.
- Put on lids and set a timer for 8 or 9 hours.
- You will need to check the water levels every couple of hours or so to make sure the pans do not boil dry and make sure they are still on the boil not too fast just at a medium level.
- After cooking carefully remove the basin(s) using a good set of oven gloves or by hooking a spoon into the string handle to lift being very careful not to get a steam burn.
- After allowing to cool replace the greaseproof paper cover and the foil cover if it needs it and store in a cool dark place till Christmas day.
- If you have made some weeks prior to Christmas it is worth checking the puddings every 7 to 10 days to ensure they are not drying out if they are, make holes with a skewer and tip brandy, sherry or whatever you prefer over the pudding and reseal.
- Steam for 2 hours.
- Remove from pan very carefully and remove the covers, (you might want to run a knife around the edges) then place a warmed plate over the top of the bowl and very carefully using oven gloves turn over and shake.
- Hopefully the pudding will release and you will need to gently remove the pudding basin from the top of the pudding using a knife or spatula and oven gloves as it will still be very hot!
On Christmas day
This pudding is delicious served with Brandy Butter or Sauce (or Rum), custard, cream, ice cream or whatever else takes your fancy!
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