Sunday, December 10, 2006

In Preparation: The Pudding

I remember my mother, every Christmas, boiling a pudding in a cloth to take to our old fisherman neighbour. His wife refused to make one for him due to the length of time and hassle it took to cook. I understand what she feels.

One Christmas Dan and I made the same pudding about 10 times in two different batches to give away as gifts. The puddings had to be boiled for a good 5 hours and then hung up to dry before being re-wrapped, then kept for a further two months. On Christmas day the pudding then had to be reboiled for a further 2 or so hours before serving.

But there is something stoic about the Christmas pudding. Something in me tells me to hold up this tradition proudly and make each pudding with love and patience every year. My Granny sent me this recipe, made easier by steaming in a bowl which gives the pudding more of a lightness that the boiled pudding doesn't have. We give the pudding a grand send of by setting it aflame before taking it to the table.

Christmas Plum Pudding

250g currants
250g raisins
250g sultanas
60g almonds, chopped
60g cherries
120g mixed peel
1 lemon, zested and juiced
180g bread crumbs
90g flour
250g demerara sugar
250g suet
½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 heaped teaspoon allspice
4 large eggs, beaten
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon milk
150ml brandy

In a large bowl soak the dried fruit and nuts with half the brandy overnight.

Next day combine all of the dry ingredients together with the lemon zest and juice. Make a well in the centre and add the eggs. Combine thoroughly. Dissolve the baking soda in the milk and add to the batter along with the rest of the brandy. Fold in the soaked fruit until evenly distributed throughout the batter.

In a large saucepan, place 3 ramekins or mugs facing up which will act as a stand. Fill the saucepan with water until the water is level with the top of the stands. Spoon the batter into a pudding dish. Cover the top with a round of baking paper, wrap the top with calico or a tea towel and secure with string. Lower the pudding onto the stands in saucepan. Cover with a secure fitting lid. Bring to the boil then simmer on a low heat for 5 hours. Check the water level at least once an hour and top up if required.

To store, remove the old paper and cover in new baking paper and wrap in a clean cloth. This will prevent mould. When ready to serve, steam for a further 2 hours or microwave on medium for 10 ? 15 minutes. Turn the pudding out onto a serving plate. Douse with brandy and light immediately before taking it to the table. Serve with either custard, brandy custard or brandy butter.


Alanna said...

I inherited my grandmother's pudding bowl, a very homely thing if precious nonetheless ... but have yet to actually make pudding. Where did you find the suet?

Bonnie said...

Hi Alanna,

What a treasure to own! I love old things like that.

Suet is very easy to get a hold of here in the UK - every supermarket has it. I did a quick search for it in the US - but doesn't seem very common at all.

I can send you some if you like... just let me know - it's very cheap... or... I can give you a recipe that doesn't have suet in it. Just let me know ;)

miss cupcake said...

Hi Bonnie,

It is such a charming idea to send loved ones the fruits of your labour, literally. Guillermo and I both miss a wintry Christmas which I actually prefer although a light seafood lunch is not unsttractive...

By the way, I love you composition in the photo, simplistically wonderful!

xx Susanna

Scott at Real Epicurean said...

Sounds great. I'm eagerly awaiting the unveiling!

cybergatto said...

hi, I've just bump here to have a look at the Christmas pudding you are preparing. I really envy you to have such patience. I just ate it twice in my life and find it really delicious (not to mention the brandy butter that came with it).

Here in Italy is not very easy to find Christmas pudding and I don't even think that it would be easy to find the ingredients.

what a bad luck!

anyway...happy christmas and please show us the pudding once made!



Bonnie said...

Hi Susanna - I secretly think that the reason I moved to the Northern Hemisphere was so that I could have a cold wintery Christmas. It just suits better I think. Plenty of time of cold Summer lunches in ... well... Summer ;)

Scott - I'll be sure to post before the pud is devoured!

Cyberkitty - Thanks for dropping by! I'm glad that you enjoyed the Christmas pudding - kinda like England's answer to panettone... I hope you have a merry christmas too :D

thepassionatecook said...

i had such good intentions of making my own this year - bugging everybody and their dogs about a good recipe only to find out that i had kept it much too late!!! well, maybe I should get started now to be prepared for next year ;-)

Bonnie said...

Ooooh, a one year old pudding. Nothing better I say! Get your puddin' on, Johanna! ;)

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