This year I have finally been organised enough to make a Christmas pudding. Our mum came to visit in November and I seized the opportunity for her to take the pudding back to Belfast on her luggage allowance rather than trying to cram it in my case at Christmas along with presents and my winter woollies.
Luckily the recipe makes two puddings and therefore I’ve been able to try one before the big day and tell you that it works very nicely indeed. I had originally intended to use just apples for the pudding, but I had some quinces in the house that were doing that usual trick of just sitting there waiting to be used. So I thought I’d use them instead. This makes the pudding lighter and more moist. I’m so glad to have finally found something where quinces really shine!
Makes two 1.2 litre puddings or one 2.5 litre pudding
- 500g mixed dried fruit
- 100g candied peel
- 75g glace cherries
- 75g almonds, pistachios or pecans (optional)
- 500ml stout or black tea
- 1 heaped tablespoon treacle
- 1 bramley apple, grated
- 1 quince, grated
- 200g plain flour
- 100g breadcrumbs
- 100g suet (or 100g melted butter instead)
- 115g brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons treacle
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 100ml stout or tea, retained from the amount above
Before you start making the pudding, you need to soak your dried fruit. Put it all, except the cherries and peel into a kilner jar or airtight container. Drizzle the fruit with the first tablespoon of treacle. Then pour the stout or tea over it all and close tightly. Leave overnight or up to a week.
When you are ready to start making the pudding, use 1.2 litre pudding basins. Grease them well with butter and dust well with flour. If you can get a plastic one with a lid, don’t forget to grease the lid too.
Peel and grate your apple and quince. It doesn’t matter if they oxidise a bit and go brown when you set them aside in this recipe. Place them in a really large bowl. Keep any juice.
Drain the soaked dried fruit, retaining the lovely treacley stout. Place the soaked dried fruit in the same large bowl as the apple and quince. Start adding all the other ingredients. I do it in the order as above to make sure I don’t get confused.
Once you have all the ingredients in the bowl, start stirring, letting everyone in the house have a go and make a wish. The mixture will become wetter and looser and a chestnutty brown colour. It smells amazing. Once it is evenly mixed right to the bottom, pour the batter into the basins, leaving about 2.5 inches of space for the pudding to rise.
Now cover the basins. Take a large piece of tinfoil. Lay an equal sized piece of greaseproof paper on top of the foil. Now fold the foil and paper together so that they have a pleat down the middle from top to bottom. This gives the pudding room to expand Brush the paper with melted butter and then wrap the foil and paper round the basin. Tuck it round the lip of the basin and then secure it here with string. If you use a bowl, you can’t do this and you’ll get moisture in the pudding, so a basin really is best.
I cheat though and use a lidded plastic one, bought from Ebay. Not only do I get the joys of seeing my postman deliver the oddest shaped parcel possible, I just snap the lid on and go.
If you have a cotton string bag around, slip the basin into it. If not, make a handle with more string, checking it will take the weight of the basin. Lower the basin into a large pan. Pour boiling water into the pan so it comes half way up the basin and then steam the pudding for 3-4 hours. Check the pan doesn’t boil dry. I cook each pudding separately. Take it out of the water when cooked and leave it sealed until needed. It will keep safely for several months if unopened.
Reheat the pudding on the day by repeating the steaming as above for another 3 hours. Remove the foil and carefully upend the pudding onto a serving platter. If you are less vain about your eyebrows than me, douse it in booze and and flambé it. Otherwise, serve with cream or brandy butter and enjoy.
The leftovers are amazing fried in butter for a Boxing Day treat like no other. This is quite a tart, tangy pudding without that heavy sweetness that can be cloying after a big Christmas dinner.