My foray into making “authentic” English Christmas Pudding came about quite by accident. The children and I were wracking our brains, trying to figure out a menu for our Unit Celebration for this current school term. We have been studying the early 1800’s, focusing on Westward Expansion. We had a few ideas, but we have been reading A Christmas Carol in preparation to see a stage production the week before Christmas, and the the notion to recreate the Cratchits’ Christmas Dinner struck us with sudden brilliance.
So we, of course, needed a recipe for traditional Christmas Pudding!
The best recipes out there on the internet had to be converted from the metric system (being British of course!), but that was easy enough. I was so impressed with the result (thus far…to be honest, our pudding has not aged yet and will be served a few weeks from now), I thought I would break the long blog silence with my take on this time-honored tradition…great fun to make, so be sure to include the kids!
6 T butter, soft, plus extra for greasing
1 c light brown sugar
1 orange, juice and zest
1 lemon, juice (1/2 of) and zest
3/4 c golden raisins
3/4 c chopped dried apricots
1 small cooking apple, peeled and grated
French brandy (you can also use rum)
1 c all purpose flour
1/2 c breadcrumbs
Spices (I used a light dusting of each of the following: cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and cloves, but you could use up to 1/2 t of each, or to taste)
1/2 c almonds, chopped
Traditionally this dessert is steamed in a special mold. Most American cooks (like myself) don’t have one of these kicking about their kitchen. I used a stainless steel bowl that had a similar shape to a pudding mold, but my bowl turned out to be a bit on the large side. I double checked with my sister-in-law in Ireland to see if a dessert plate pressed down into the bowl would work, and got the go-ahead, as long as I kept the bowl water-tight on the outside. So use what you can find in your kitchen!
Place dried fruits, zests, juices and grated apple in a mixing bowl. Splash with brandy, about 1/2 of a cup or so. Mix and set aside to marinate for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Grease your mold with butter and place a small square of foil in the bottom. Place a stock pot half-filled with water on the stove to boil, with a large steamer insert.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and mix well. Combine dry ingredients, add to egg mixture, then fold in fruit and almonds. Press into mold. Place a layer of wax paper and a layer of foil over the bowl (wax paper first), pleating to allow for expansion. Tie off with twine and trim excess. Place mold in steamer and put lid on pot. Steam for 8 hours, topping off with water as needed.
Cool pudding, then remove outer paper and foil. Poke holes in pudding and “feed” pudding with another 1/2 c or so of brandy. Seal up again and store until the day you will serve it (about four weeks later is “traditional”), when you will steam for another hour to reheat.
Serve heated pudding with a traditional custard, brandy butter or rum sauce, and for extra fun you can google how to serve it flambé style! Recipes for the sauces abound online, I haven’t gotten that far yet, but will post an update when I do. My current plan is for rum sauce and (shhhhhh!) whipped cream.
A Happy Christmas to you all!