Mrs. Jackson Cooks

Life through food

Preparing for Christmas – a fruity Christmas pudding

on September 27, 2011

Can you believe it – its that time of year again, when thoughts turn to Christmas preparations.  Admittedly, the ones that you have to do in advance – it’s not like I’m ordering a turkey from the butchers yet or anything!  But my first post on this blog, nearly a year ago, was for Christmas cake.  I made it a bit later last year – getting it all done well ahead of time this year!

I’m thinking, after the success of last year’s Christmas, that I would cook Christmas dinner in my home today – and will have whoever wants to come, over.  That way we avoid the ‘which parents are we seeing this year’ issue.  They can both come to us.  Or not.  I don’t mind!  So, I thought, I’d be brave and make my own pudding this year.

And that’s where the trouble started.  My first stop for a recipe was Delia – you can’t really go wrong with her, and Christmas is not a time for experimentation!  You could end up ruining people’s Christmasses that way – mine especially, and Christmas is stressful enough without a pudding disaster!   And then I thought I’d just see what BBC good food had to offer.  And they had a very highly reader recommended fruity pudding that was less rich and dense than trad puds – which given the amount you eat at Christmas, I thought might not be a bad thing.

And then I remembered I had the Hairy Biker’s Christmas book.  Theirs looked good too.  So which one?  I nearly went for Delias – to be safe.  But then I read I had to soak the fruit overnight and I didn’t have time for that.  The Hairy Bikers recipe didn’t require soaking but looked a little light on the booze.   And the fruity one seemed the most interesting – although did require overnight soaking too.  After consultation with my mum, who’s been making her own puds for years (she does them a year in advance), I decided not to soak the fruit, but basically go with the fruity one.  But – and here is where I am worried I may have gone wrong – I adapted the recipe slightly along the lines of the Hairy Bikers.  Partly because I liked the idea of putting Guinness in a pudding, and partly because I wanted to reduce the quantities to fit in my pudding basin and the Hairy Biker quantities were nearer that.

I madea mini one I made with the small amount of leftover mix, which I tasted – just to make sure I’m not poisoning people, mind! – and it was delicious and will improve with age, so I’m quite happy with my muddled recipe!

As I write this now, the smell of the Christmas cakes baking in the oven is filling the house.  They’re nearly done.  That was a Delia recipe.  I’ve used it every year for 3 years , and I can’t fault it.  To find that, click here, for my first ever post.  I spent 3 hours earlier today mixing them all (there’s 3) and they’ve now done nearly 4 hours in the oven, probably just another 30-45 minutes to go.  And then they get put away and fed brandy every few weeks.

But back to puddings.  I bought myself a pudding basin, having never made a steamed pudding before.  It all seemed very complicated.  But actually, its simpler than you think.  I got a 1.2 litre ceramic pudding basin from John Lewis for £6.  Which I didn’t think was bad.  This size is a good medium sized pudding – will serve about 8-10 I think, depending on the size of slice you serve.  When the pudding’s not in it (and it will be now, until Christmas) it’s a good size for a mixing bowl.  Because I didn’t have a very large saucepan for steaming, I steamed it in the oven, which couldn’t have been simpler.

You just fill a baking pan (I used a deep sided one) with water.  Sit the pudding bowl in the middle of it.  Ten the pan with tin foil, and steam in the lower part of the oven for the same amount of time you’d do it on the hob. I found I didn’t even need to top up with water – although I did check on it, just in case.  It also leaves your hob free so you can cook dinner (or whatever).

Here’s the original recipe that I mostly followed

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/8370/christmas-pudding-with-citrus-and-spice

Here is the hairy biker version that I used bits from

http://www.hairybikers.com/index.php?action=recipes&id=118&back=20

And here’s my version:

Fruity Christmas pudding

Serves 8 (ish)

  • 125g each sultanas, raisins, and currants – find the biggest juiciest ones possible.  My mum swears by Australian or Chilean ones (I just went with Asda ones, to be honest!).
  • 100g whole glace cherries
  • 50g mixed peel
  • 50g chopped dried figs (ready to eat ones, not ones you have to soak).
  • 50g whole blanched almonds
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1 medium carrot, finely grated
  • 150ml brandy
  • 50ml orange liquer (or more brandy if you don’t have it (or in my case -thought it too expensive for cooking with))
  • 125g white breadcrumbs (made with cheapest rubbishest oldest white bread you can find.  Chop off crusts and stick in blender or crumb with fingers)
  • 120ml Guinness or other stout.
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 1/2 mixed spice
  • 1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • 125g butter, frozen and grated
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • butter for greasing
  1. Put all the fruit, peels, zests, carrot, nuts, in a very large mixing bowl (the largest you have – I use a large salad bowl) and pour over the brandy and liquer (if using).  Stir well and then cover and leave for as long as possible.  I left it for about 90 minutes, whilst I made lunch and other things.
  2. Mix the breadcrumbs with the Guinness and leave to one side, whilst you weigh out everything else.
  3. Combine the flour, sugar, spices together with the breadcrumbs and then add these to the fruit.  Mix well.
  4. Then grate in the butter and add the eggs.
  5. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Grease the pudding basin and line the bottom with greaseproof paper.
  7. Really pack the mixture into the pudding basin, getting rid of any air (I did this by tapping it on the surface and frequent intervals).
  8. Top it with some greaseproof paper.  Followed by a double round of greaseproof paper and then some tin foil.  Secure all of this with string under the bowl lip.
  9. Either steam in a large saucepan on an upturned saucer with water covering 1/3 of the basin (and cover the saucepan) or in the oven with the method above for 6 hours.
  10. When the time is up, remove the puddings.  Take off the foil and grease proof papers (leaving the bottom one) and allow to cool.  Then replace with fresh greaseproof papers and string and store in a cool, dark, dry place until christmas, feeding it with brandy at regular intervals (I think, I’m going to do about 2-3 week intervals).
  11. At Christmas, steam in the same way for 2 hours.  Remove, put a serving plate on top of the pudding, and tip it onto it.  Pour over brandy and set alight.  Serve with brandy cream, brandy sauce or orange custard cream as the BBC good food one suggests (or whatever you want!).
  12. Have a very happy Christmas!
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