There are many different Christmas pudding recipes. Here is mine.
self raising flour
dark brown sugar
dried fruit (raisins, sultanas, currants)
some candied peel
spices: nutmeg, allspice, ginger
silver coins (optional)
brandy or other (optional)
food processor (optional)
big mixing bowl
greaseproof paper (optional)
finding, weighing and mixing ingredients
fist steam: five hours
leave: four weeks
second steam: three hours
- Chop the almonds in halves or quarters, but not too much.
- Make the breadcrumbs, either using a food processor, or tearing the bread into pieces. It doesn't really matter if you have the crusts or not.
- If you are using , then chop several pieces quite finely. If not, you can buy candied peel, or you may be able to buy mixed dried fruit, which contains raisins, sultanas, currants and dried peel.
- Measure all the dry ingredients and put them in a large mixing bowl. I use about a small teaspoon each of the different spices.
- Break the egg on top of the ingredients, and add the beer.
- Mix thoroughly by stirring (see below). Do not use a food processor; it will cut up the ingredients too much.
- If you have greaseproof paper, line a heat-proof bowl with it (this will help when you come to serve it). Spoon in the mixture, and fold the greaseproof paper over. Put some foil on top, and crumple round the edges to stop any steam getting into the pudding.
- Put some water in a saucepan, and put the bowl in. The water should come about 3/4 way up the side of the bowl. Heat until boiling, then turn down as low as you can to .
- This needs to steam for five hours, which is a long time.! Keep checking the water level to make sure that it doesn't boil dry.
- The photo above has been taken at the end of this first boil. Wrap the pudding up well, keeping it in its greaseproof paper, and store until Christmas. It doesn't need to be in a fridge; this recipe dates before fridges!
- On Christmas Day, put onto steam in exactly the same way, but this time only for three hours.
- Turn out the Christmas pudding and remove the greaseproof paper. If you want, you can heat up some brandy or whisky in a tablespoon, set light to it (although it may ignite spontaneously) and pour the burning liquid over the pudding. Serve immediately before the flame goes out. This is 'show off' cooking! Or you can decorate it with a sprig of holly, and perhaps a scattering of icing sugar. I'm sure I don't have to tell you not to try both the flaming and the decorating at the same time!
- Christmas pudding is often eaten with brandy butter, or white rum sauce, but if you prefer cream, then why not?
- Christmas pudding is traditionally made on Stir-up Sunday. This is the last Sunday before the start of Advent in the Anglican church calendar, usually the last Sunday in November. The Anglican church has prayers for each week in the year, called collects. The collect for this particular week is "Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." Christmas pudding contains fruits (which we hope are good), and needs a lot of stirring, and should be made several weeks before Christmas, so the connection was made. The prayer came first, though.
- The ingredient list for Christmas puddings are highly variable. Some further ideas are given below. Amounts are fairly variable as well. I've given amounts that seem to work OK, but feel free to add more of what you like, and less (or none) of what yu don't. The structure of the pudding is given by the breadcrumbs, the flour and the bulk of the fruit, and the liquids (the egg and the beer). Altering these dramatically will alter things. I used a whole pint of beer one year (rather than a quarter of a pint), and by the end of the first stage it was still semi-liquid! But I managed to dry it off in the final cooking, and it still ended up OK.
- Suet is a type of beef fat, and is traditional. Please note that it is not vegetarian. If you don't want to use this or you can't find it, then there is vegetarian suet, or you can use butter or margarine instead.
- Almonds are one of the variable ingredients in Christmas pudding. They do add a chewy texture. Decide for yourself how many you want. They must be whole, or at least half, almonds, not slivers or chopped. You can buy them without skins nowadays. I can remember when you could only buy them in their skins, and they had to to boiled for a few minutes to loosen the skins. Then you squeezed them and they popped out of their skins (and usually onto the floor!) It used to add to the merriment of mixing the Christmas pudding.
- Some people add some fresh ingredients, such as half a chopped (and peeled) apple, or grated carrot.
- Christmas pudding is also called Plum Pudding. So it could contain plums. Prunes are dried plums, so that might be easier. I advise that you buy stoned prunes.
- Christmas pudding must have some spices in, and some traditional ones are given above. You can add your favourite instead (or as well).
- There is traditionally alcohol in a Christmas pudding. I have suggested beer as an ingredient. Beer is slightly bitter, which helps to counter-act the sweet richness of the pudding (although, quite frankly, not very much!) If you don't have beer, then you could try brandy, whisky or rum, instead. This alcohol will be driven off by the cooking, so it can be given to teetotallers (with their permission, of course). The alcohol used for flaming must be a spirit (beer doesn't burn!) I'm not entirely sure that all the alcohol is driven off here. Some gets burnt, of course, but a bit might get absorbed by the pudding first.
- Coins are traditionally cooked inside the pudding. However, don't just use any coins, as they are made of a variety of metals. Silver coins are safe. Silver sixpences are often used, but not all pre-decimal sixpences are real silver. However, an older coin, silver threepences, were made of real silver, and that is what I use. We never have problems finding them; no-one has swallowed one yet! It is, of course, lucky to find one in your helping. We re-use the same coins each year.
- There is a ritual about stirring the pudding. Every member of the family in the house at the time must drop in one of the coins, stir, and make a wish, which must be kept secret.
- Don't force people to eat it, however traditional it is. Some people hate it, and some people are just too full at this point of Christmas Dinner. It is a very rich pudding. So the next question is: what to do with the left-overs? Once it has cooled down, some people slice it and fry it in butter (for breakfast, the suggestion was, which seems a bit much!) A better suggestion is heating some with some butter, brown sugar, orange juice, and brandy, and then serve with ice cream.
© Jo Edkins 2007 -