So, traditionally I make the Christmas mincemeat, Christmas puddings (one for us and one for Brian – you know who you are) and Christmas cake in October. The small matter of a house move has meant that these festive activities are a little behind schedule but there’s still plenty of time. I make these things quite simply because I’ve never found shop-bought alternatives – across the price range – that make the grade. The recipes I adore all belong to Delia although I have tweaked them a tiny bit. If you like Christmas pudding, give this one a go – it spends a lot of time steaming but pretty much looks after itself and is consistently gorgeous!
Makes 2 puddings, each serving 4-6
What you need…
2 x 600ml pudding basins, lightly buttered
110g shredded suet
50g self-raising flour
110g white breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
A good pinch ground ginger
A good pinch ground cinnamon
A good pinch salt
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
225g soft dark brown sugar
25g ready-chopped mixed candied peel
25g almonds, chopped
25g walnuts, chopped
1 small cooking apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
½ small carrot, peeled and grated
Grated zest of ½ large orange
Grated zest of ½ large lemon
2 happy eggs
2 tablespoons rum
1 tablespoon black treacle
What to do in October/November…
Begin the day before you want to steam the pudding. In a large mixing bowl, tip the suet, flour, breadcrumbs, spices and sugar. Mix together very thoroughly. Then add the dried fruit, mixed peel, nuts, apple, carrot and the grated orange and lemon zests, stirring thoroughly with the addition of each ingredient.
In a jug, stir together the stout and rum before mixing in the black treacle and eggs. Pour into the other ingredients and then mix the whole lot together.
It is Delia’s recommendation and a tradition that we follow religiously, to now gather the family around and for everyone to take turns giving the mixture a stir and then making a wish. Given modern times, this physical activity now also involves Facetime or Skype to ensure that no one misses out, even if they are only ‘virtually’ stirring!!!!
Cling film the bowl and leave somewhere cool over night.
The next day, pack the mixture tightly into your basins. Cover both with a double layer of parchment paper and then a double layer of foil, creating a pleat in both and securing around the bowl with string.
Place the puddings in a steamer over a saucepan of simmering water, pop on the lid and steam for 8 hours, checking the water level every now and then to see if it needs topping up with boiling water from the kettle.
Remove from the heat when the 8 hours are up, remove the parchment paper and foil, wipe the exterior of the bowl clean and tie on fresh parchment and foil. Store somewhere cool and dry.
That’s it! You’re ready for Christmas Day – just need the turkey and the sprouts!!!
What to do on Christmas Day…
Decide what time you want to indulge in your Christmas pudding and then place the pudding (s) in a steamer over a saucepan of simmering water, pop on the lid and steam for 2¼ hours, again checking the water level every now and then. Don’t stress about the exact timing. I often just switch the heat off and remove the steamer from the pan – the pudding stays hot for ages.
Remove the parchment paper and foil and pop your pudding onto a pretty serving plate. Place a sprig of holly on the top. Heat a ladleful of brandy over a direct heat and, as soon as it’s hot, ask someone else to set light to it. Ladle the gently flaming brandy over your pudding amid gasps of delight and festively fuelled cheering. Enjoy with rum sauce, double cream or custard – savour the very essence of Christmas before retiring to an extremely comfortable sofa for some gentle snoozing or manic game playing, depending on your household!!!
It’s not hard at all but…gathering and preparing all the ingredients takes some time and you do have to commit to staying in all day (or staying up late) to accommodate the 8-hour steaming but a little organisation is all that’s required and it’s worth it!