Now Bring Us Some Figgy Pudding

One of my favourite things about the Christmas season is Advent Calendars. There is something so special about counting down, door by door, to the much anticipated Christmas Day. In this world of instant gratification, where the pleasure of saving up is lost and instead we have the drugery of paying back the credit card long after the excitement of the purchase has worn off, there is something beautiful about the anticipation of 24 little doors made of card.

In the middle of last week my little advent calendar reminded me that I hadn't yet made my Christmas puddings. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to do them until yesterday, eight doors late. Officially, Christmas puddings should be made on "Stir-up Sunday" (the final Sunday before Advent begins. By making your puds this early in the month it gives the flavours chance to mature and deepen (much like a good fruit cake) but I like to think a homemade pudding, made even a week or so late, is still preferable to a the shop bought one. Seriously, if you look at your average supermarket pudding they look like canon balls. Heavy, un-naturally black and always in those red-plastic pots - what's that about? Making one yourself is really simple and if you are looking for home-made gift ideas who wouldn't be happy to receive a little muslin-wrapped bundle of fruity delight?

This recipe makes enough for two 2 litre puddings. I was trying to make lots of little ones to give as presents but after my newly-purchased set of molds met an unfortunate end (note to self: stop swinging your shopping bags when walking on tarmac) I made four 0.5 litre puds instead. I was going to use my slow cooker to steam them, but with a stereotyped lack of spacial awareness, I underestimated how much room the puddings would need so I ended up doing them in batches in my largest saucepan.

One of the traditions of pudding cooking is making a wish when you stir the mixture (anti-clockwise). So, if you don't make a pudding yourself then you miss out on your chance for a wish. What could be better than having a homemade pudding and winning the lottery/meeting your dream partner/world peace?

Traditonal Christmas Pudding
175g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
125g fresh wholemeal or white breadcrumbs
125g shredded suet
75g demerara sugar
125g raisins
225g currants
225g sultanas
50g chopped candied peel
50g glace cherries
100g chopped dates
25g stem ginger (optional)
1 medium sized apple (grated)
1 medium carrot (grated)
Juice and grated rind of 1 orange and 1 lemon
1 level tablespoon of treacle
2 beaten eggs
200ml stout (I used Guinness)
You will have to leave the mixture to mature overnight so bear this in mind!
  1. Seive the flour, salt and spices into a large bowl.
  2. Add breadcrumbs, suet, sugar and fruit - mix well.
  3. Add grated apple, carrot, rind and juice of the lemon and orange , treacle, eggs and spout. Mix very well together.
  4. Make a wish!
  5. Leave for several hours or overnight.
  6. When you are ready to make the puds, stir the mixture again and put it in your greased basins. Cover the top with two layers of greased proof paper. Make a pleat in the paper so that there is room for the pudding to expand. Add a layer of foil and secure tightly.
  7. Stand the pudding on an upturned saucer, I used a cookie cutter, in a pan and pour boiling water into the pan so it is half way up the side of the pudding basin.
  8. Steam as follows: 1l basin - 8 hours, 600ml - 6 hours, 300ml - 4 hours.
  9. Do not let the puddings boil dry - top up the water as necessary. The puddings are done when a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  10. Remove the grease proof paper and the foil and leave them to cool. Once they are cool add a circle of grease proof paper and re-wrap with foil. Store the puds in a cool place until you are ready to eat them.
  11. When it comes to Christmas day, re-steam the puddings. 3 hours for the large puds, 2 hours for the smaller puds and 1.5 hours for the micro puddings.
  12. Set aflame (vodka produces the best flame) and serve with brandy butter (recipe will follow).

No comments: