Christmas Pudding

Here we are folks, already at the business end of the year. Christmas may still be five weeks away, but now is the perfect time to get started on this traditional steamed pudding. I like to start about six weeks before the big day by preparing my fruit mince and making the pudding. Then it gets tucked away somewhere dark and cool, until being re-heated on Christmas Day. This recipe may seem long and involved, but it’s really not. Soak your dried fruit for a few days, mix a few ingredients together, and steam. That’s all there is to it. Yes, the pudding needs to steam for five hours, but apart from topping up the water occasionally there’s not much else to do.

I am a bit addicted to the rich treacly Spanish sherry known as Pedro Ximenez, and cannot be without it. Adding it to the dried fruit makes for a very rich, fig flavoured pudding.

I should also add that when making the pudding pictured above I forgot to add the sugar to the fruit mince mixture, and then I also forgot to add it to the pudding mix. I was a bit nervous about the results but it tasted perfect. Obviously there is a lot of fruit for sweetness, so the good news is that if you are so inclined you can leave out the sugar altogether.

The quantity of dried fruit below gives you eight cups of fruit mince. You only need four cups for one pudding, so you could make two, halve the quantities, or make mince tarts with the rest. To be honest I use these quantities because they are the sizes the fruit comes in and I hate having bits and pieces of leftover fruit left in a million little packets.

I use a 2 litre, or 8 cup, pudding steamer.

Ingredients:

For the fruit mince {makes 8 cups}:

300 g currants

375 g sultanas

375 g raisins

375 g dried figs, chopped finely

2 tart green apples {such as Granny Smith}, peeled and grated

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp allspice

150 g dark muscovado sugar {you could also use brown sugar}

500 ml Pedro Ximenez sherry, or Port

For the pudding:

200 g unsalted butter, melted

60 g plain flour

50 g self raising flour

150 g breadcrumbs

3 eggs, lightly beaten

zest of one orange

juice of half an orange

1. Combine all the ingredients for the fruit mince in a large glass or ceramic bowl. Stir it really well, or use your hands to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a cool dark spot, at least overnight, or up to a week.

2. When you’re ready to make the pudding begin by greasing the pudding steamer well with butter, and line the base with baking paper. Prepare your steamer, I use a massive stainless steel pot with an upside down ramekin in the bottom for the pudding steamer to stand on. You will also need good strong aluminum foil to wrap the pudding steamer in.

3. To a large mixing bowl add four cups of the fruit mince, along with all of the pudding ingredients. Stir well with a large spoon {I think a wooden spoon is traditional}, and pour into the pudding steamer. Press it down lightly and give it a tap on the bench, then smooth the top. Put the lid on and wrap the whole steamer in two or three layers of aluminum foil.

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Put it into a large pot for steaming, and make sure to stand it on a small upside down saucer or ramekin to elevate it off the bottom of the pot and prevent it scorching. Carefully pour enough boiling water into the large pot to come about three quarters up the side of the pudding steamer. Simmer for five hours, keeping an eye on the water level from time to time.

4. After five hours of steaming carefully remove the pudding steamer from the pot and remove the foil. It’s now ready to eat. If you are saving it for Christmas Day re-wrap it in fresh foil and keep it somewhere dark and cool. On Christmas Day, to re-heat it, repeat the steaming process for three hours. To serve it take off the lid, run a butter knife around the inside rim, and turn it onto a cake plate or stand. You could dust it with some icing sugar, or serve it with either custard or ice-cream.

  1. How is this for a happycoincidence? We spent today with my Aunt cutting and soaking fruit for her famous Christmas Pudding. Her ‘family’ recipe dates back to the 1920’s! Mixing and first steaming is scheduled for Friday.

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    1. That’s awesome. I would love if my family had such traditions, but being Southern European, it’s a bit different. I bet the pudding must taste fantastic.

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      1. It’s my husband’s side of the family and first time I’ve attempted making it. I guess the proof will well and truly be in the pudding.

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