Christmas Pudding

So what exactly do we mean when we say ‘The proof is in the pudding’?  Not, I take it, that a bite will reveal a hidden murder weapon but instead will yield the rewards of a labour of love.  For the effort that goes into making a Christmas Pudding is indeed labour.  Firstly, there’s the weighing and stirring of all those ingredients.  Then the mixture is left to have a snooze overnight before filling the pudding bowls and wrapping them up with greaseproof paper and string which is trickier than it sounds.  The final stage is ‘Pudding Watch’ as they steam away for 6 hours.  The water levels have to be monitored; too high and the pud will flood, too low and she’ll come aground.  Finally it’s time to taste.  Yes, it’s delicious.  Yes, it’s rewarding to produce something from scratch.  But is it worth the time and effort?  Quite honestly (in my opinion) no it’s not!  Having recently tasted the ‘Green Saffron’ (award-winning) Christmas Pudding I would say support your local producers and economy and spend 6 hours shopping instead!
On the other hand, if you are housebound for a day, due to snow, black ice or whatever else may keep you there, the recipe below will make 2 medium size puddings.  I’ve a copy of Darina Allen’s ‘A Simply Delicious Christmas’  published in 1989, that is a real go-to book for all things traditional.  Darina credits the recipe I used as being ‘Elizabeth O’Connell’s Plum Pudding.’  I’ve modified it a little, adding the zest of an orange (a bow to Blumenthal’s whole orange) and a tsp mixed spice (needs to be used up somehow).  Quantities of ingredients have also been modified.  I also used Atora light vegetable suet instead of regular beef suet (because the shop didn’t have any) and it worked really well.  As far as  I can recall the ‘Green Saffron’ Christmas Pudding is also vegetarian.  Oh, and I was a lot more heavy handed on the rum.  Happy steaming.
Christmas Pudding in BowlsChristmas Pudding Ready to SteamChristmas PuddingChristmas Pudding Close-Up
Makes 2 medium size Christmas Puddings.  Remember it needs to soak overnight.
You will need:
2 pudding bowls
greaseproof paper
string
200g raisins
200g sultanas
200g currants
200g rich dark brown sugar
150g breadcrumbs
200g atora light vegetable suet
1 cooking apple
1 orange (zest)
50g candied peel
half tsp cloves
4 eggs
75 ml rum
50g chopped almonds
1 tsp mixed spice
little butter to grease the pudding bowls.
Method:
Zest the orange and crush the cloves with a pestle and mortar.
Peel, core and grate the cooking apple.
Beat the eggs.
Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.  Cover with a plate and leave overnight.
Next day.
Grease the pudding bowls with a little butter and fill them with the pudding mixture (I kept mine down from the edge a bit)
Use a double layer of greaseproof paper which you fold in the middle to make a crease. (see pic)
Use the string to tie the greaseproof paper under the rim of the pudding bowl and then pass it over the top to make a handle.
Place the bowls into saucepans of boiling water that comes half way up the side of the bowl. 
Adjust the heat so that they are not bubbling furiously but there’s enough action to generate plenty of steam.
Cover the saucepans with a lid and check the water levels every so often over a 6 hour period, topping up when necessary.
To store, remove from bowl and allow to go cold completely then cover with fresh   paper and a layer of tinfoil and store in a cool dry place.  Darina recommends steaming the pudding for a further 2 hours before serving.  ( I may be chancing the microwave for 2 mins instead 🙂 )
Enjoy.
Til next time, Sheila.

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