Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the pudding is so delightful, so if you’ve no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let snow…. or words something like that.
Christmas pudding is like Marmite; you either love it or hate it. Well I love both!
Lily The Christmas Pudding Queen
My Nan always made our Christmas puddings; she’d wrap silver sixpenny coins in tinfoil and dot them in the mixture, the lucky person who found the sixpence would be guaranteed good luck all year (or at the worst a broken tooth!).
Another ritual in our family was for everyone to stir the pudding and make a wish and hopefully it would come true.
The puddings were always made at the beginning of November so the flavours could develop and the pudding would taste as rich as it could on Christmas Day.
I have always eaten Christmas pudding, but as a child I soon discovered that I hated the taste of mixed dried peel, so my lovely Nan, accommodating as ever, made our puddings without the dreaded peel.
I took over making the puddings when my Nan was no longer able and continue with the ritual of stirring and making wishes, although I no longer put coins in the pud as only my husband, mum and myself enjoy eating Christmas pudding these days.
Sadly the recipe that my Nan used was lost long ago but I’ve adapted an old Delia Smith recipe (it’s from her book Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course published 1983) and it tastes just as good. I no longer add sugar because of my husband’s diabetes but to be perfectly honest with all the dried fruit, sugar really isn’t necessary.
For those making Christmas pudding for the first time, it can seem a little daunting with an ingredient list almost as long as your arm! But please don’t be put off, it really is simple to make and if you have a slow-cooker (Crock-Pot) steaming the pudding is an absolute doddle.
My recipe makes 2 and bit 1.3 pint puddings (the extra bit can be steamed and eaten as an early treat – well you have to check it tastes okay!!).
What you’ll need:
A large mixing bowl
A sturdy wooden spoon (or metal)
2 x 1.3 pint basins
Baking parchment – cut to fit the top of the basins
Tin foil – to cover baking parchment over the basins
A strong arm!
113g shredded vegetable suet
1 tsp mixed spice
¼ tspn cinnamon
¼ tspn nutmeg
60g self-raising flour
113g breadcrumbs (easily whizzed up in a food processor)
530g mixed dried fruit (I used sultanas, raisins, currants, and cranberries)
25g chopped almonds
Zest and juice from 1 orange and 1 lemon
1 large apple, peeled, cored and grated
2 medium sized carrots, peeled and grated
2 large eggs – whisked
150ml Guinness (or any stout will do)
A good slug of brandy or dark rum
Put all the ingredients into the bowl in the order I’ve listed them and mix well until everything is combined – a bit of muscle is required but this is where you get other family members to help with the stirring by asking them to make a wish as they stir!
Lots of people say you should put them into the bowl bit by bit and mix thoroughly as you go along, but I promise you my version works just as well.
Once everything is combined cover the bowl with a clean cloth and leave it overnight – this way the flavours develop and the booze soaks into the fruit. Incidentally if you don’t drink alcohol I would imagine that fruit juice would work just as well, perhaps a mixture of apple and orange would be good.
Next day, remove the cloth and give another good stir – the mixture shouldn’t be too dry or too wet. If it plops off the spoon with a tap then the consistency should be okay.
Grease the two pudding basins and fill to the top with the mixture, you only need to leave a small gap below the rim.
Cover with your baking parchment and cover this with tin foil, making sure you scrunch the foil firmly around the outside of the basin.
Place one of the prepared pudding basins into a slow cooker and top up with water; it should be about halfway up the basin – no more.
Cover with a lid and set the temperature to low and leave to cook all day – about 8 hours should be fine. In the evening, remove the first pudding and simply replace it with the next and leave that to cook overnight.
When cooled down I like to re-cover the puddings with baking parchment and tin foil, that way I can check the puddings have cooked through (they should be firm to the touch) and I know they are dry for storage, I then pop them into a cool dark cupboard until Christmas Day.
I hope you try the recipe and I’d love to hear any feedback you might have.