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
60g almonds, chopped
120g mixed peel
1 lemon, zested and juiced
180g bread crumbs
250g demerara sugar
½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 heaped teaspoon allspice
4 large eggs, beaten
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon milk
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.