Christmas puddings

 It seems as if the Christmas season starts earlier and earlier each year. By the time October comes around I tremble as go into the supermarket, in fear that this will be the day I have make my way throught the produce section as, over the PA, some overwrought diva struggles to wrest emotional depth from ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’. By the the time December is here, I think of Scrooge: "Every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart”.
So, you might ask, why am I writing (in September) a blog about Christmas pudding? Well, a good Christmas pudding needs to be made well in advance -- a couple of months at least. So, factoring in a little procrastination, this might be a good time to start thinking about it ...

Recipe One
This recipe is the family Christmas pudding. I got this from my sister Sorcha who got it from our mother and she, in turn, had it from her mother.
     My Christmas Day "chore" was to make the hard sauce. I became quite adept at this. The amount of whiskey I put in was more than customary for hard sauce but was generally greeted with approval.
 
Makes about three good-sized puddings.
    •    1lb bread crumbs
    •    1lb sultanas (golden raisins)
    •    1 lb raisins
    •    1/2lb mixed chopped fruit -- this is the candied fruit you find in the baking section of the store
    •    1/2lb glacé cherries
    •    1/2lb mixed nuts -- walnuts, almonds...whatever you like.
    •    1/2lb butter
    •    1oz mixed spice -- see below for details
    •    pinch of salt
    •    6 eggs
    •    juice and zest of 2 oranges and 2 lemons
    •    1 cup Guinness
    •    1/2lb brown sugar
    •    1 shot whiskey
     Mix all the ingredients except the eggs and the breadcrumbs and marinate overnight.
     Next day beat the eggs and add to the mixture. Then add the breadcrumbs.
     Portion into bowls that have been greased with butter. Cover each bowl with grease-proof paper (in America it's called waxed paper), then with a sheet of aluminum foil and tie securely with kitchen string. Boil/steam 3 to 3 1/2 hours for a large pudding; 2 to 2 1/2 hours for a medium pudding and about 1 hour for a small pudding. Cook the same amount of time when preparing for eating on Christmas Day.
 
Recipe Two
 This recipe, I confess, is not mine. When I lived in England I was an avid reader of 'The Guardian' newspaper. A regular columnist was Richard Boston, who wrote about food and beer and other such happy indulgences. This recipe appeared in one of his columns. I have since found a copy of it in Jane Grigson's 'British Cooking' which has lots of great recipes and is a lovely read.
     I've made very slight changes, mostly to 'translate' the English measurements. In the past I've also substituted butter for the suet. The addition of whisky is mine and is optional; that's how I remember it from my childhood. The mixed spice recipe is also mine and may be amended to taste. It will make more than you need for this recipe but it gets a bit fussy and unpredictable when you scale recipes down too far.
     For the hard sauce we always used butter, sugar and whisky but I've also occasionally eaten this with whipped cream and sometimes with custard. You could probably reheat the pudding in a microwave (without the foil!) but I'm a traditionalist in a lot of ways and have never tried it. It can be sliced and fried in butter -- very good for Boxing Day breakfast.
 
Christmas Pudding
    •    10oz fresh breadcrumbs
    •    8oz soft brown sugar
    •    8oz currants
    •    10oz raisins (chopped)
    •    8oz golden raisins
    •    2oz mixed peel
    •    8oz suet (shredded) -- or butter
    •    3/4 teaspoon salt
    •    2 teaspoons mixed spice*
    •    grated rind of 1 lemon
    •    1 Tablespoon lemon juice
    •    2 large eggs (beaten)
    •    4oz milk
    •    8oz Guinness
    •    shot of whiskey
     Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the liquids and mix well. Divide between two bowls. Cover with greaseproof paper and foil. Wrap with string. Steam for 7 - 8 hours.
     You can keep in the freezer or in the 'fridge for several weeks. When I was a kid they would be kept in a cool pantry for months!
     To reheat: Steam for 2 - 3 hours or see above for suggestions. Douse with warm whiskey or brandy, flame and serve with hard sauce or whatever sauce you like.
 
Mixed Spice
    •    1 teaspoon ground allspice
    •    3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    •    1 teaspoon ground cloves
    •    1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
    •    3/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
    •    grating of black pepper


Enjoy.
Mick

2 comments

  • Nancy

    Nancy Colorado

    How do you "steam"? Do you put the covered bowl in a pan of water in a low oven? or is there a better method?

    How do you "steam"? Do you put the covered bowl in a pan of water in a low oven? or is there a better method?

  • Mick

    Mick Aurora

    Hello Nancy ~ what I've always done is to put a string handle on the bowl and to put it into a large pot with a couple of inches of water. Get the water boiling lightly, cover and keep close watch that the water doesn't boil dry. Top up as needed.

    Hello Nancy ~ what I've always done is to put a string handle on the bowl and to put it into a large pot with a couple of inches of water. Get the water boiling lightly, cover and keep close watch that the water doesn't boil dry. Top up as needed.

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