I do like Christmas Pudding.
I count myself as fortunate in having plenty of individuals in the immediate family who think likewise.
I grew up with a standard, non-varying pudding, whose recipe goes back at least as far as my great grandmother. Even as a child I knew this was the real deal: black, shiny, solid, and unique-to-Christmas. Crucially it is not pudding-y, cake-y, sponge-y, or sticky – it has a texture all of its own.
When I started cooking the Christmas family meal it was natural to stick with this traditional recipe. Then as I became a bit more ‘foodie’ it was equally natural to try other, more elaborate, alternatives. By 2004, though, I had returned to this original, and have stuck with it ever since.
There’s no need to make the pudding months in advance – a few weeks is all that is necessary.
1. Gather ingredients.
Imperial measures are appropriate, I think.
The ingredients are simple, and there really is no booze !
¼ lb self raising flour
¼ lb breadcrumbs
½ lb suet
2 oz chopped almonds
½ lb raisins
¼ lb currants
¼ lb sultanas
¼ lb peel
¼ lb caster sugar
½ grated nutmeg
1 lemon zest & juice
2. Gather other necessary bits and pieces.
3. Start to add ingredients to the bowl – order not too important.
4. Continue to add ingredients – pausing to admire handiwork from time-to-time.
5. Pack into buttered basin (it looks light in colour at this stage but darkens when cooked) – cover with a sheet of baking parchment and a sheet of foil – and tie up with string.
6. Steam for 8 hours, keeping water topped up with fresh boiling water from time-to-time.
6. Yes it really is 8 hours – I suppose this is the step that contributes to that unique texture.
7. After it has cooled cover with fresh parchment and foil. Keep out of the way of cats and dogs (especially those on weight-loss programmes).
8. On the big day steam for another 4 hours.
9. We appreciate the pudding more if the ‘big day’ is actually Boxing Day.
10. I know it’s not very special, or very Christmassy, but having fiddled around with various combinations of cream, rum, butter, brandy, I am forced to conclude that the very best accompaniment of all is – er – custard (and no, I have never made my own from scratch). Second best is some decent vanilla ice cream.