A lot of people claim to dislike Christmas puddings, but I think that this is due to the mean and cheap little puddings sold in plastic containers that you can get in the supermarket. They already look dried up and wrinkled before you've cooked them, never mind afterwards! Consider trying this recipe - it might just change your mind... The pudding is first and foremost, light and moist. It is also fruity and naughty as it is quite boozy. It is perfect warmed through and served alongside cold, softly whipped cream. Trust me - this recipe has converted many pudding haters!
A quick note: The recipe below creates a ridiculously large amount of pudding mix - even halving these quantities gave me three decent sized puddings - one for me and two to give as presents. If you only want to make one or two, I would scale this recipe down to ensure that you don't spend lots of money on ingredients and end up with too many puddings!
230g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons treacle
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
Juice and zest of 2 oranges
4 medium eggs
230g wholewheat breadcrumbs
690g mixed dried fruit
230g dark brown sugar
85g wholewheat flour
85g chopped almonds
85g chopped hazelnuts
85g crystallized ginger
1 large cooking apple chopped
1 teaspoon each of ground allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
Melt the butter and treacle in a saucepan over a low heat. When cool, add the brandy, zest and juice of the lemons and oranges. Then, beat in the eggs.
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in the treacly, buttery egg mixture into the dry ingredients - you will need a very large bowl to do this, or split the mixture between two bowls.
Grease your pudding bowls and ladle the mixture into them. Cover with a double layer of tinfoil - fold a pleat along the length of the foil to leave enough room for the foil to puff up and expand in the heat.
Steam pudding(s) for 4-6 hours in a steamer depending on the size. If you don't have a steamer, you can put the pudding in a roomy pan with a lid on, but you will have to top up the water more often, or the pan will boil dry.
I have added a picture below to show you what a finished pudding should look like and one that still has an hour or so to go until it is cooked. The unfinished pudding is on the left, and the finished pudding is on the right.
Once steamed and cooled, replace with a new double layer of tinfoil and store in a cool but dry place. I feed my puddings every 5-7 days with a dribble of good whisky, but this is because I'm partial to it. If you like, you can feed the puddings with a bit of the brandy you had to make the puddings earlier.
To feed a Christmas pudding, skewer the pudding all over with a cocktail stick and spoon over a tablespoon of brandy or whisky. Replace with fresh foil.
Hints and Tips
- Make your puddings at the weekend - making puddings is a long but leisurely process. Take the chance to wallow in the Christmassy feeling and put Christmas songs on while you make the mix. Then when they are steaming, you can wrap Christmas pressies.
- Having made puddings for a long time, I find that making the puddings and steaming them in one day is far too much to do - unless you want to be steaming puddings into the small hours! I tend to make the mix on a Saturday, excluding the eggs. I cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave it somewhere cool. Then on Sunday morning, I add the eggs, stir the mix round and adjust the consistency if needed, then put the mix in the bowls and steam them. I make sure that I have started to steam the puddings by mid-day to ensure that they will be done by six or seven o'clock that evening.
- I tend to add half a small bottle of ale to the pudding mix as I think it adds a nice background tang - Theakston's 'Old Peculiar' or Guinness work particularly well. If you decide to do this, you will need to add a little extra flour to thicken the mix up a bit after - just enough to maintain a slightly sloppy consistency. It is traditional to make a wish when you stir the pudding. Ask someone special to stir the mix and make a wish too.
- Steaming puddings makes your house resemble a sauna! Open the windows at the start of the steaming and put on a t-shirt. Make sure that you top up the steamer or pan regularly with water to avoid pans boiling dry.
- A pudding always looks impressive when flambeed - use vodka to set it alight as it has a pure blue flame and burns for longer. Heat a small amount of vodka in a pan ensuring that you don't do this for too long, then pour over the pudding and set it alight with a cook's match, as these are longer than ordinary matches.
- It is traditional to steam the pudding for an hour before serving it, but I don't think it's necessary. You can microwave pudding if you cut into servings first and check it every 30 seconds - be careful as it can be unpredictable. Do not put a whole pudding in the microwave as it can explode!