My sister and I are both huge fans of Christmas pudding, but me being somewhat pickier than her, I have been making my own for the last 10 years or so, mainly just to have one without chunks of nut in, who wants a crunch in that mouthful of warm soft flavours?!
I started with a recipe from an old cookbook at my parents house, I don't remember what it was called, and, apart from removing the nuts, the first year I did follow the recipe. That was the only year that happened!
Each year I have made changes to the recipe, either through design - such as adding ground almonds to keep the nutty flavour without the crunch and swapping candied peel for fresh for a wonderful citrus burst, or sometimes through accident - such as changing of quantities due to bad maths when trying to halve the recipe and the one year when I was making a fruit cake at the same time and used the cake sugar in the pudding and the pudding sugar in the cake.
Anyway, with all the changes, intended and otherwise, Christmas pudding 2013 was about as perfect as I ever expect to get it, and was faithfully reproduced for Christmas 2014 without any errors. It went down a storm. That being the case it seems such a shame to only make it once a year. So with my sister enjoying Christmas pudding as much as I do and her birthday approaching, I decided to make her a birthday pudding rather than a birthday cake. However, best laid plans and all that, I ran out of time and she did not get a birthday pudding (she got peanut butter cupcakes). So when she invited us for dinner last week I seized the opportunity and casually offered to bring dessert.
Here is my recipe for anyone who fancies giving it a go
Nell's Christmas Pudding
* 225g fresh white breadcrumbs
* 115g shredded vegetable suet
* 115g light muscavado sugar
* 1tsp ground ginger
* 1tsp ground cinnamon
* 1tsp ground nutmeg
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 125g seedless raisins
* 125g currants
* 125g sultanas
* 50g finely chopped fresh lemon and orange peel (about 2 lemons and 1 1/2 oranges)
* 70g natural glacé cherries washed and chopped into small pieces
* 50g ground almonds
* 1 medium cooking apple, peeled cored and grated
* 2 tbsp golden syrup
* 2 tbsp brandy
* 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
* milk to mix
1. Weigh out all dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix well
|This is before mixing, obviously!|
2. Add apple, golden syrup, brandy and eggs, then enough milk until the mixture is damp and holds together but is not wet.
|Your aiming for a mix that all looks wet but if you took a handful and squeezed you wouldn't get any liquid out|
3. Stir well, and make a wish! Then cover and leave to stand overnight
4. butter pudding mould then fill with mix and steam for 8 hours.
I steam in a large pan with water in the bottom and the pudding mould stood on a biscuit cutter or tin can (or in this case, moulds stood on a baking sheet, on top of a cake ring) but you can use an electric steamer if you have one, or whatever works for you. The important thing is that the pudding is steamed not boiled or baked as this results in the perfect texture!
5. Remove from steamer and leave to cool.
6. Once cool remove pudding from mould, wrap in greaseproof paper and cloth and store in a cool dry place for up to a week.
7 Re-steam for 3 hours before serving.
I normally make this mix as one large spherical pudding, but as I was working to a clock on my summer pudding I knew I would not find enough steaming time so did smaller individual puddings instead, it made about nine of them. I could then get away with just 4 hours for the first steam and just 1 for the second. Don't try to do any less though, no matter how small your puddings, it really does need that time for everything to soften and combine together and for the flavours to develop.
When doing the second steam I always put my pudding back into its mould as I have a lovely spherical mould and I want it to keep its shape well. However in past years before my mould I have made spherical puddings without a mould just by shaping and wrapping in paper and cloth before steaming, work with what you have, but I recommend returning to the mould if you want a really neat shape. You can of course make hemi-spheres (or any other shape you fancy) but personally I feel nothing beats the full sphere.
I have searched my photos, but apparently have not taken a picture of the pudding at Christmas in it's full glory. I will add one this year!