Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Christmas Pudding

Do you love Christmas pudding? If yes, you absolutely should try making a homemade one as it's so easy but if you do fancy giving it a go then make it as soon as possible so there is a decent time for the flavours to intensify.

I was not a fan of Christmas pudding when I was younger, nor mince pies, but I could eat a lot of both of these things any time of the year now! In fact, now that mince pies are in the shops, I already can't resist buying them. I tried making mince pies last year, didn't work out too well, will surely have another go this year. The pastry (which should be so easy right?) was my downfall.

So here is the recipe we pretty much follow for our Christmas Pudding which is from Gary Rhodes book New British Classics.

Makes 3 x 2lb (900g) puddings (although we find there is a little extra over for a mini pudding too)

8oz/225g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
8oz/225g fresh white breadcrumbs
8oz/225g shredded suet
4oz/100g ground almonds
1lb 2oz/500g soft dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
6oz/175g stoned prunes, finely chopped
6oz/175g peeled carrots, grated
1¼lb mixed currants, sultanas & raisins
2oz/50g chopped mixed peel
2 apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
Juice & grated zest of 1 orange & 1 lemon
5 eggs
4 to 5 fl oz dark rum

4 tablespoons black treacle
4 tablespoons golden syrup
½ pint/300ml stout (dark beer)


In a large mixing bowl sift together the flour and baking powder. Add the breadcrumbs, suet, ground almonds, soft dark brown sugar and spices. Mix well.

The recipe says to mince the prunes and carrots but I find chopping up the prunes and grating the carrot works just as well. Also add the dried fruit, mixed peel if using, apples, lemon and orange zest (note, you're not adding the citrus juices in here yet) and mix again.
Beat the eggs then stir these into the mix along with the lemon and orange juices, rum, treacle, golden syrup and stout. Stir it all together really thoroughly. Doesn't it smell good? It's really nice to get the kids involved in making this (although it was too messy for our boy who is quite particular about not getting his hands dirty, not normal for a boy is it?!) and you could at this point add a couple of coins wrapped in foil for a lucky person to find (and hopefully not break a tooth...) when serving it up. We never did this in our family but having been to my husband's family for Christmas they have always done it as a tradition and it's quite fun and the kids enjoy finding out who has the lucky coin.

Anyway back to the mixture, it should be reasonably moist and loose in texture but if you feel it needs more liquid add a little more stout or rum. Taste if you want to and add more spices to give it more richness if that's your preference.

Cover the mixture with cling film and keep for up to one week in the fridge. This allows the mixture to mature.

After this time, prepare your pudding bowls by greasing with butter and dusting lightly with flour.

Add the mixture to the pudding bowls, approximately three-quarters full, lay a circle of greaseproof paper over the top of each and then cover with baking parchment or foil (or muslin) around the bowl tied firmly with string. Remember to make a fold in the parchment/foil which leaves room for the pudding to rise. Tie the string around the edge of the bowl to keep the parchment/foil in place. If you're clever it's handy to make a little handle across your pudding to make it easier to lift out your pudding bowl from the pan after steaming. I have tried but not perfected this skill yet, when at all possible I grab my Mum to help with this bit as she does it brilliantly every time.

Steam each one over boiling water for 6 hours (4hrs is the minimum, the longer you do it now the richer they will become and less time you'll need to do it on Christmas Day). Keep an eye that the water doesn't boil away and keep topping up (with boiled water) if neccessary.

Leave to cool completely and then leave in a cool dry place until Christmas Day.

On the day you will serve, the puddings will need a further 1 1/2 to 2 hours of steaming minimum to bring them back to their pudding texture. Then they're ready to serve up with whatever cream-y or sauce-y goodies you may have at the ready.

Go on, do it. It absolutely beats buying one. And you will be so pleased with yourself!

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