As I write this post there are 36 days, 1 hour and 20 minutes until christmas 2012 is officially here. Normally I restrict my christmas joy to the two weeks preceding christmas and one week after, for fear of a total holiday overkill and in protest of those who put their decorations up in November. Whoever said you can have too much of a good thing was definitely thinking about tinsel, turkey and general christmas frivolity. My strict limitation of christmas celebration isn’t intended in a scrooge-esque way, I merely wish to enhance the specialness of christmas by ensuring it’s magic is contained to a short, manageable time period. I believe it’s the only way to keep things special (plus, I intend to spend my christmas period eating as much food as physically possible, any elongation of the christmas period has direct correlation to how much weight I gain and years I lose off of my life)
Having said that, my flatmate and I embarked on a yuletide challenge today. It may not quite be the season, but everyone knows a good christmas pudding needs some time to mature, thus my normal november christmas ban must be lifted for one day. After much research, deliberation and preparation, we decided upon two types of christmas pudding. My flatmate found a ginger and cranberry christmas pudding in this months Sainsbury’s Magazine which contained a whole Jamaica Cake, how could that not be amazing? So we decided to make two of these, one for her family christmas and one for our flat christmas. I decided to stick with the traditional for my family christmas pudding and used a recipe by Paul Gray, the ‘master baker’ at Betty’s teahouse. However, wanting to put our own Thirlestane Road spin on things, we did bend the rules a little with the ingredients, substituting various dried fruits and most importantly adding a hideous amount of dark rum, after all christmas pudding is traditionally alcoholic.
Cranberry Gingerbread Christmas Pudding. (adapted from the Dec ’12 Sainsbury’s Magazine)
Fills a 2-litre pudding basin
300g Jamaican ginger cake
100g white breadcrumbs
300g light muscovado sugar
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
200g plain flour
200g toasted pecans, roughly chopped
200g cold, hard unsalted butter
1 large Bramley apple, grated
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
zest and juice of 2 oranges
20ml of dark rum, we used Captain Morgans
1) In a food processor, break up the ginger cake until it resembles breadcrumbs. Place in a large bowl with the breadcrumbs, sugar, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, flour, sultanas,raisins, cranberries and pecans. Mix together.
2)Add into the bowl the grated apple and then grate the cold butter on the top of this.
3) In a separate bowl place the beaten eggs, rum and orange zest and juice. Pour this over the dry ingredients and mix well.
4) Butter your pudding basin, place a small disc of greaseproof paper at the bottom of the bowl.
5) To cover your pudding basin, cut a square of greaseproof paper larger than your pudding bowl, pleat it in the middle, so when the pudding expands the paper has room to grow as well. Do the same with a sheet of foil. Place the greaseproof paper on top of the pudding and then the foil, tie string tightly around to hold them tightly to the pudding basin. Lesley Walters has a great how to video.
6) Place in a large saucepan, and fill water up to a third of the height of the basin. Bring to the boil, then reduce to simmer and place a lid on top. Leave this to cook for 4 and a half hours, checking ever so often to see whether the water needs topping up.
The recipe says this can be made up to 3 months ahead of time.
Betty’s Traditional Christmas Pudding
50g toasted pecans, roughly chopped
100ml dark rum
Zest and juice of one orange and one lemon
50g vegetable suet
30g wholemeal breadcrumbs
50g plain flour
90g light brown sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, ground cloves
2 large eggs, beaten
1)Place all the dried fruit, lemon and orange zest, citrus juice and rum into a large bowl. Leave overnight to soak.
2) In a separate bowl place the flour, sugar, suet, salt, spices and breadcrumbs, mix well. Add the dried fruit and liquid mixture to the dry ingredients, stir well, then add the beaten egg.
3) Grease a pudding basin, place a small disk of greaseproof paper in the bottom of the basin, and then pour the mixture in.
4) Cover the basin with greaseproof paper and foil, tying with string as explained in the previous recipe.
5) Place in a large saucepan, bring to the boil, then simmer for 4 and a half hours.
6) Remove and leave to cool.
We bought pudding basins from lakeland, which came with lids, which is perfect for storage, however, if you’re using a pyrex bowl then simply cover again with greaseproof paper and foil, using string to secure it tightly.
This is of course optional, but we intend to ‘feed’ our puddings a few times before christmas. Using a Mary Berry tip (a woman who loves a tipple herself) where you use a skewer to make a few holes in your pudding and pour a little rum (or whatever alcohol you are using) into the holes and cover your pudding back up. This will enhance the taste of alcohol as well as bringing out the other flavourings of your pudding.
ON CHRISTMAS DAY
For both of these puddings, on the day itself, you’ll need to steam them for a further two hours. Serve with brandy butter, cream, ice cream or whatever else takes your fancy.
Our Christmas Puddings are now on the shelf waiting for the glorious day, or at least until we have our flat christmas celebrations. Now, before I return to normalcy and a life without Christmas joy (well, at least for a few weeks), here’s my favourite christmas/winter song to get you in the spirit. I’ll be posting some pictures of the final results after our flat christmas, stay tuned!