Last Sunday, November 26, was “Stir Up Sunday” in Britain, a time for family and friends to gather and make the Christmas pudding for the upcoming holiday. I traveled up to Nethergill Farm to cook up puddings with my sister-in-law, Fiona. We were using the recipe of Dorothy Clark, our late mother-in-law, and added a few twists to make it our own.
Dorothy’s recipe used glace cherries and candied citrus peel but we updated these flavors by adding dried cranberries, blueberries and apricots and dried cherries that were soaked in apple juice to keep them plump and moist. We used eggs from Fi’s laying hen ladies; she checks each for freshness by putting it in a cup of water – if they float they are no good.
The fat traditionally used in Christmas Pudding is beef suet. We opted for the vegetable version but, after reading the ingredients (palm oil) , we still used it this year but decided we would try butter next time.
The recipe is dead easy to put together, simply measure all ingredients and put in a large bowl then stir until incorporated.
The mixture gets packed into pudding bowls then greaseproof paper is tied down over the top.
Followed by foil then a sturdy folded ribbon of foil is added to make “handles”.
Then it steams for 6 hours, which is a mighty long time.
Now our cooked puddings, with coverings still in place, are stored until Christmas Day when they will get another further steaming.
We can’t find out how they will taste for another month or so but it was a lot of fun reawakening a tradition and making extra puddings to give to family that won’t be with us on the holiday.
Granny’s Christmas Pudding
225 g (8oz) each of sultanas, currants, seedless raisins, fresh breadcrumbs, vegetable suet*, demerara sugar and golden syrup
113 g (4oz) each of dried cranberries and dried blueberries
165 g (6oz) dried apricots cut in fine dice
100 g (4oz) dried cherries
100 g (4oz) blanched almonds, chopped
100 g (4oz) ground almonds
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1 cooking apple, peeled, cored and grated
1/2 teaspoon each of mixed spice and cinnamon
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Grated rind and juice of 1 large lemon and 1 orange
4 eggs beaten
4 tablespoons brandy
140 ml (1/4 pint) brown ale
butter for greasing pudding basins
- Measure all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir well to mix.
- Generously butter the insides of 3-2 pint pudding basins or 6-1 pint pudding basins. The exact yield may vary a bit from these measurements but have the basins ready to go and you can always alter the final number depending on how far the mixture goes.
- Fill the basins a tad over 3/4’s full. Cover with greaseproof paper and tie snugly with string then cover with foil and tie down again with string.
- Have ready a saucepan for each pudding and put a trivet or upside down saucer in the bottom of each then top with the puddings. Add enough water to come a couple inches up the sides of the basin.
- Cover and bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 6 hours, topping up water as needed.
- Store in a cool, dry place until ready to eat – I put mine in the fridge.
- When ready to serve, reboil again for 2-3 hours until the middle is piping hot.
- Turn out onto a serving platter and serve with brandy butter and cream.
- For a dazzling finish, ignite the pudding by pouring warmed brandy over the top and lighting it.
*Vegetable suet: Neither of us liked using this product and we later found out that butter is perfectly acceptable and would likely make the puddings taste better so next year that is what we will use. Our mother-in-law always used beef suet.