There is still plenty of time to make a pudding fit to be the triumphant finale at your Christmas feast. But with so many excellent puddings around why, you might ask, would you make your own? And indeed last year I had one of those candied orange stuffed delights from Waitrose. This particular pudding has developed quite a Marmite reputation but my family love it and so if you’re time poor I can recommend it thoroughly.
I do love the warm scent of a pudding steaming in the kitchen while you write a christmas card list, plan a party or even , more prosaically, do the ironing. I also want to show my grandchildren some of the traditions, the rituals that make Christmas special for me. There is something very confirming about watching the next generation of family enjoying the very things you and your children did.
But there are other excellent reasons why I urge you to make your own pudding: While sticking to the amounts in the recipe you can chop and change as you like: don’t enjoy prunes use dates, hate glacé cherries add extra peel, no almonds use pistachios. I used some marron glacé I found in the back of the cupboard and use more candied citron than some might like.
In these days of gluten free mania you can substitute GF flour and bread in the recipe, use butter rather than suet to give a lighter flavour which, love suet puddings as I do, works better after a rich meal and you can pop in a couple of charms or sixpenny pieces should you have them to hand. And of course there is the important ritual of making sure the whole family stir the mix while making a wish.
On Christmas Day steam the pudding for an hour before turning out, and eating with brandy cream.
There is a simple secret to making a good Christmas pudding:
Use only the best fruit and freshest nuts and spices and steam it for as long as you can bear to! It really makes a huge difference to the colour and taste of the pudding if you can steam for eight or so hours. Don’t panic this does not need to be done in one day. I often steam my puddings over two or three days and have never had any problems with them.
Sixpences should be wrapped in foil. I’m sure there are health and safety reasons why we should not put charms or money in the pudding but Christmas is a health and safety nightmare with charms being the least of our problems.
500gm mixed fruit( raisins, currants, sultanas)
110gm 4 oz pitted ready to eat prunes, chopped
110gm dark muscavado sugar
110gm 4 oz fresh breadcrumbs
110gm 4 oz frozen butter, grated
55gm plain flour
110gm ground almonds
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons mixed spice
110gm chopped walnuts
110gm 4 oz chopped almonds
110gm chopped cherries
1/4 pint stout (I use Murphy’s)
4 tablespoons dark rum
3 large eggs
Put the dried fruit, prunes, sugar, rum and stout into a bowl and leave for 24 hours.
In a large bowl toss the grated butter with flour and breadcrumbs Add the ground almonds, the chopped nuts, spices and cherries.
Now add the fruit mixture and the beaten eggs.
Mix well, let the family have a stir and a wish, cover the bowl with a cloth and then leave in a cool place overnight.
Press the mixture into one 2 pint or two 1 pint pudding basins cover in the usual way then steam for 8-10 hours.
One pint puddings can be steamed for 4-6 hours.