Those jingle bells can be heard in the distance, the kiss of soft snow on your skin, the twinkling multi colored lights wrapped around the tree, the beautiful robust aroma of freshly brewed coffee, rosemary, sultanas and dates and the warmth of a ginger bread pulled out of the oven, and then, that…Christmas pudding! A bit of advanced preparation goes a long way. For a Christmas Pudding, the richness of this treat speak volumes of the story of your Christmas pudding.
Soaking Dried Fruits & Nuts
This is definitely one British Christmas “must” that has to grace its presence on your feasting table. With its elegant ‘dome’ structure, this is one desert that expresses your passion for cooking (or baking, rather). Indeed, some may say it’s all about mixing a few ingredients together, but its much more than just that. A stodgy mixture poured out onto a Pudding Basin right from the very beginning of soaking dried fruits and nuts in Rum (or Vodka) is not really the way to go about it. For instance, you need to start with preparations of soaking about a year in advance (the traditional way). Scratching Canvas has a lovely guide on how to soak fruits for the perfect Christmas Pudding.
What I Did
Thanks to a bit of late realization, I had to stick to the second way (soaking fruits about five weeks before Christmas), but there is a cheat of just doing the whole thing overnight! Make sure you use a dark alcohol like Brandy or Dark Rum (I used Old Monk’s and it worked perfect!). Quite an important ingredient in this recipe is to add some orange zest and a few julienne(s) of ginger – its hard to notice much of a difference, but ginger gives the whole thing that warming spice that just exudes every the joys and ‘wonderfulness’ of Christmas. (For reference, you can find the entire recipe of the Christmas Pudding below)
Once done, the main bit of your preparation is actually over. The next and (relatively easy) step is to mix everything and steam your pudding! Or is it that easy? Well, having done it for the first time, making a Christmas Pudding is actually fun. Apart from the bit of soaking up the fruits, it’s a bit of an arm workout to gather and combine everything into a luscious batter (that does represent a stodgy, extremely thick porridge sort of consistency), and then all you need is a tiny bit of precision to set (seal) it up and cook it right.
A Simple Task-List:
- When soaking the dried fruits and nuts, ensure that you check it once every week or month. Give it a small jiggle, so that the fruits that rise up won’t dry out.
- I found that adding Maple Syrup to the Christmas Pudding works great in two ways. Firstly, it reduces the total amount of sugar you would require overall. Secondly, it adds a beautiful dark color/tinge to the pudding!
- The pudding basin and the baking paper should be greased properly with butter.
- Ensure that you make a pleat with the “butter paper & aluminum foil lid” so that the pudding rises, and seal the basin tightly with kitchen string, so that it steams like a poisson en papillote.
- Last but not least, place the basin on an overturned plate in your steaming pot, so that the basic does not come in direct contact with the heat source (or else, well, it would burn).
Christmas PuddingPrint This
- 600 g of mixed dried fruits and nuts that have been soaked (check out Scratching Canvas' link above)
- 125 g (self-raising) flour
- 120 g butter (frozen, shredded)
- 120 g brown sugar
- 2 teaspoon ground mixed spice (clove, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander)
- 50 g of mixed almonds and walnuts (to give that fresh crunch)
- 1 apple (cored & grated)
- 2 tablespoon orange and lemon zest
- 100 ml dark maple syrup
- 2 large eggs
- 4 tablespoon freshly squeeze orange and lemon juice (use the same for zest)
- 4 tablespoon soaking liquor (from the jar of soaked dried fruits and nuts)
- 1 sprig of holly and icing sugar (to decorate at the end)
- Butter 2 x 0.9l Pudding Basins (one for the house, and another wrapped in a bow for someone special), and keep these aside. Cut a small circle of baking paper and place it at the bottom of the pudding basin (grease this as well).
- In a separate mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, mixed spice and shredded butter.Â Tip in the almonds, walnuts, soaked dried fruits (without the liquor) and the zest. Combine well until the fruits seem to be well distributed.Â Another thing, take a whiff of this mixture – doesn’t it scream out Christmas in the most beautiful manner?
- Combine the remaining ingredients taking care to ensure you don’t lose out on consistency. The mixture shouldn’t be too thick, nor too runny, but should represent a thick porridge (so to speak).Â Divide the mixture into the two pudding basins and press down gently so that the top is flat.
- Now comes the part where you might need a bit of help. On a sheet of foil, place a sheet of baking paper on top of it, pleat it (so the pudding rises), and secure it on your pudding basin with the help of a kitchen string. Make sure the shiny side of the foil faces outwards, and the pleat looks like this…
- Pop the sealed basin in a boiling pot on an overturned plate (so that the basin doesn’t has no direct contact with the bottom of the pot. Fill the pot with water, up to halfway up the basin. Close and bring to a boil, and then put it on simmer.. Let it steam for about 5 hours.
- During the 5 hours of steaming, check in every internal of 1-2 hours and top up with water if required, make sure that it hasn’t dried up.
- Once the 5 hours of steaming are done, remove and let it cool completely. Poke/prick the pudding with a skewer, and store in in an airtight container in a cool dry place. (Don’t eat it immediately).
- On Christmas Day, reheat the pudding in a steamer for an hour or two and set it up on the table with a snow-drop of icing sugar and the holly sprig. Heat a bit of vodka/rum in a small pan, and flambé it. Pour this over the pudding and let your guests be…amazed!
- A Christmas Pudding is best served with Rum Sauce, Custard or Whiskey Cream – whip up cream, whiskey and Bailey’s Irish cream until a sauce-like consistency. And Voilà!
Make your Christmas Pudding ahead of time, preferably about 5 weeks before Christmas Day, and keep dressing it with your preferred liquor once every week (the main reason for pricking the pudding), so that the flavors just keep getting stronger and richer.
Last but not least, have a very Happy Christmas! Do let me know about your dinner plans for the big day!