Christmas Puddings Made Easy
You can buy some really good Christmas puddings in the shops, but nothing feels as good as serving your own home made pud on Christmas day. Because it is made a few weeks in advance, it only needs reheating on Christmas day all the hard work is done. Actually making a pudding is very easy, the only difficulty comes in the steaming and that is only because it can take 3-5 hours to cook. If you have a pressure cooker, the times is obviously greatly reduced but use your cookers manual for best results.
The following recipe will make a large pudding that takes about 7 hours to steam, you can divide the mixture between two pudding basins and these should take about 4 ½ hours to steam.
Use a steamer if you can get hold of one rather than standing the basin in a pan of simmering water as this gives a lighter texture to the pudding. Always remember to top up the pan with fresh boiling water every half hour or so.
Traditional Christmas Pudding
This pudding is best made at least 4 weeks before Christmas.
175g plain flour
1 level tsp each of mixed spice and ground cinnamon
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
110g vegetarian suet
80g soft dark brown sugar
550g mixed dried fruit, currants, raisins, sultanas, glace cherries
1 Bramley apple, grated with a squeeze of lemon juice
1 tbsp black treacle
2 eggs, beaten
200ml dark stout
Brandy to feed the pudding
1.Butter the basin or basins well.
2.Sieve the flour with the spices into a mixing bowl.
3.Stir in the breadcrumbs, suet, sugar and fruit and mix well with a long handled spoon.
4.Add the apple, treacle and eggs and beat well.
5.Stir in the stout until well combined.
6.Leave for at least 4 hours to allow the flavours to combine.
7.Stir well again then spoon into the basins.
8.Cover with two layers of greaseproof paper and a layer of foil tied securely with string. Use the string to make a handle to help lift the pudding out of the steamer if you wish. I tend not to bother and just use a tea towel to help lift the pudding with.
9.Allow to steam for 7 hours if making one large pudding or 4 ½ hours for two half size ones.
10.Remove all the paper and foil and allow to cool.
11.Prick with a skewer and drizzle 4 teaspoons brandy over the pudding. Cover well and store in an airtight container. After two weeks feed the pudding with brandy once more. This process is optional.
Very Easy Pudding
This makes a small pudding and can be made up to a week before Christmas.
350g good quality mincemeat
2 tablespoons rum or brandy
60g bread crumbs
60g self raising flour
1 level tsp mixed spice
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp black treacle
1.Put the mincemeat in a bowl and drizzle with the rum or brandy. Leave for 30 minutes before preparing the rest of the pudding.
2.Butter a 500g pudding basin.
3.Sieve the flour into a bowl with the spice and add the breadcrumbs, stir well.
4.Add the mincemeat, milk and treacle and mix together.
5.Spoon into the basin and cover as for the previous pudding.
6.Steam for 3 hours.
7.Allow to cool and store in an airtight container.
To reheat the puddings, steam for about 1 ½ -3 hours depending on size or for 7- 10 minutes in the microwave. Pressure cookers can also be used to reheat them, but check on the manufacturer’s handbook for timings.
Serve your favourite sauce or butter
Image by James Petts from London, England (Christmas pudding) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons