After last year's success in fine-tuning my ultimate mince pie recipe I decided it was time to tackle the next of the festive season classics: Christmas pudding.
With no family recipe to work from I instead turned to one of my favourite bakers who, rather fortuitously, had just released his first solo book a few months earlier. Among a comprehensive array of delicious goodies was his family's recipe for Christmas pudding; a rich, indulgent version passed down from grandmother to mother to son, and made annually a whole year in advance just to give the flavours a really good chance to mature.
I, of course, was not nearly that organised (next Christmas, I promise), but figured six weeks ahead was better than nothing and so, after few minor tweaks—as well as some major upscaling to account for the number required as gifts—we were away. A festive-themed bucket was filled with all manner of ingredients and then, after a good overnight steep and two solid rounds of hot & sweaty kitchen Tetris (yes, we Australians will forever insist on traditional yuletide cooking despite the heat of summer), the pudding army was done. A few extra nips of brandy, just for good measure, and then they were all wrapped and ready to be sent on their merry way.
It's fun to give handmade gifts and I do so enjoy baking something special for my family and friends. But if there's one thing I've learnt over the past few years it's that lots of other people do too, and so while that precious hamper chock-full of biscuits and sweets is always gratefully received, for anyone already at the peak of over-indulgence there's also that little voice that says, "oh God, so much more I have to eat". So more recently I've changed my approach, and in trying to give gifts that will last I figured the pudding is the perfect solution: it can be used immediately by those who forgot to get their own; saved until July by those who enjoy their Christmas feast when the weather's more suitable or, better still; saved until the following year by those who enjoy a really mature pud. I'm certainly looking forward to sharing mine with dear friends over Christmas lunch.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
CHRISTMAS PUDDING (Adapted from Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding by Justin Gellatly)
- 115 g raisins
- 90 g sultanas
- 180 g currants
- 115 g prunes, halved
- 50 g dried figs, quartered
- 25 g candied peel (lemon &/or orange)
- zest & juice of half a lemon
- zest & juice of half an orange
- 75 g apple, peeled & diced
- 10 g flaked almonds
- 15 g whole almonds, roughly chopped
- 15 g walnuts, roughly chopped
- 75 g suet, grated
- 60 g fresh breadcrumbs (rye sourdough)
- 50 g self-raising flour
- 125 g dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp each mixed spice, nutmeg
- ¼ tsp each cinnamon, ginger, allspice, clove
- 15 g treacle
- 2 eggs
- 75 ml stout
- 30 ml brandy
- 25 ml port
- 25 ml dark rum
Combine all the dry ingredients in one large bowl, and all the wet ingredients in another. Add the wet to the dry ingredients, mix well, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
The following day pour the mixture into a greased one-litre pudding basin, lying a disc of baking paper on top, then cover with foil and tie up with string. Place the pudding in a large roasting dish and pour in boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the basin. Cover the whole dish with foil and then bake at 150°C for 3-4 hours.
Remove your pudding from the dish and leave to cool. Wrap in cling film and store in a cool, dry place, occasionally brushing it with brandy if you're storing it for a while.
To reheat, cover the basin with paper, foil and string, as before, and place atop a jar lid in a deep saucepan. Pour in boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides then cover and simmer over low-medium heat for 1-2 hours, until heated through. Remove the foil and paper and invert onto a serving tray. Flame with warmed brandy and serve with a good dollop of cream.
Makes 1, one-litre pudding.