Sunday, 28 November 2010

Smells like Christmas!

Over the past two months I've been torturing both WH and myself with the tantalising smells of Christmas. First there was the annual mincemeat-making madness and, indeed, I think I succumbed earlier this year to making our first batch of mince pies (second coming up today and it's still November!). However, the really tantalising smell has been has been from the little production line of Christmas puddings.

Friends and family will be [ahem] delighted to hear that they'll be benefiting from home made Christmas hampers this year, all of which will include a Christmas pudding. The rest of the contents will remain secret - otherwise it spoils the surprise! - but I thought I'd share the Christmas pudding recipe here.

There's still just about time to make your own (unless you're a friend or family member - weren't you paying attention? I just said I'd made you one! How many Christmas puddings can you eat, anyway?!!) As this was my first attempt at puddings, I just went with the master and used St Delia as my inspiration, but swapped out the odd ingredient here and there for things I like more (ale for stout, etc.).

To make one, 1 pint pudding, you will need:

A surprising amount of stuff!
1 pint/570ml pudding basin
baking parchment
aluminium foil

115g shredded suet
55g self-raising flour, sifted
115g breadcrumbs (Delia says white, I used granary bread - don't believe it really makes a difference)
1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 lb soft brown sugar
115g sultanas
115g raisins
225g currants
30g dried cranberries (Delia doesn't use these, but I like them!)
30g mixed peel
30g flaked almonds
1/2 lge/1 sml apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
grated rind of 1 sml orange and 1 sml lemon2 eggs
2 tbsp raspberry gin (or some sort of spirit, like rum)
75ml whisky (or some other sort of spirit or Delia uses barley wine)
75ml ale (or Delia uses stout)

  • Your mix needs to soak overnight, so start the day before you actually want to finish...
  • You have to steam these puddings for 8 hours before storing them, then for a further 2 hours when you're ready to eat them...
  • Make sure you start this recipe with the biggest mixing bowl you own - the contents multiply in volume until it becomes incredibly difficult to stir!
  • Don't forget to add your sixpence or other silver surprise if you're that way inclined!
1. Put the suet, flour breadcrumbs, spices and sugar in a bowl, mixing in each ingredient thoroughly before adding the next.

2. Gradually mix in all the dried fruit, peel and nuts and follow with the apple and the orange and lemon rind.

3. In a different bowl, beat the eggs and mix in the alcohol.
4. Empty this into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir. Then stir some more. Everything must be thoroughly mixed!
5. Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave overnight. You'll come back to discover that it's swelled even more - particularly the breadcrumbs!
6. Grease your pudding basin and pack the mixture inside. Cover each basin with a layer of baking parchment, then mould a square of foil over the top and tie with string. At this stage you could also make a string handle to help you lower and raise your pudding into your steamer.

7. Steam for 8 hours. If you don't have a steamer big enough, you can use a large saucepan with a lid. Make sure you put a saucer at the bottom of the pan so that the pudding isn't touching the heat source directly and add water until half your pudding basin is submerged. Keep checking the water level.
8. When cooked and cooled, take off your foil and parchment and apply a new layer of both. Then store in a cool, dry place until Christmas.
9. Steam for 2 hours and serve.

The observant amongst you will have noted that I mentioned that I hadn't made Christmas puddings before. Never fear - we made an extra mini one to try before we inflicted these as gifts - it was yummy!