Miniature classic Xmas puddings

This year, we are going totally British for our Christmas lunch. Usually I pick and mix : one starter here, a main there and some odd exotic bits from someplace else ; but this Christmas, lunch will be very traditional and purely British. For once, we are not travelling anywhere so that is one extra reason -if need be – to stay very local.

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In this spirit, I have decide to do my own Christmas puddings. I have been asked many times by friends to share a Christmas pudding recipe and I had none! But fear not, here is one coming!

I dived into some of my oldest books and searched far and wide to eventually settle on a mixed recipe which heritage is a cross between “Kitchen Essays” by Agnes Jekyll (in the beautiful Persephone Books edition) and Dan Lepard from The Gardian.

Little miniature puds in foil dressing

Little miniature puds in foil dressing

Agnes Jekyll calls hers “The Enchantress Plum Pudding” and calls for:
“Half a pound of bread-crumbs, sultanas, currants, raisins, mixed peel, suet, brown sugar, 4 eggs and the zest of two lemons. Mix and cook in usual way, serving with Brandy or orange butter.”
Though I love her concision and economy of style, I think my recipe needs a little expansion…

Ingredients list for 6 mini puddings:

  • Bread-crumbs, 125g
  • Sultanas, 125g
  • Currants, 125g
  • Chopped dates, 125g
  • Mixed peel, one small handful
  • Coconut cooking cream (or any shortening), 75g
  • Agave syrup, (0g
  • Brown sugar, 125g
  • Plain flour, 50g
  • Baking powder, ½ tsp
  • Mixed ginger, cinnamon and cloves spices, 2 tsp
  • nutmeg or mace, 1 tsp
  • Eggs, beaten, 2
  • Grated carrot, 1 small (or 50g)
  • Blanched almonds, 100g
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • Dark rum, 100 ml

Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and turn well with a wooden spoon until all is mixed evenly. It is traditional at this point to give a go to each member of the family at turning the spoon in the mixture and make a wish for the year ahead. The sunday before the advent calendar begins, so five weeks before Christmas, was traditionally called Stir-up sunday because it was the time to make your puddings ahead of Christmas day. You can still make it after that date but it will have less time to steep and for all the flavours to mingle…

Line and oil 6 small Dariole moulds. The ideal shape is round but you can be ground-breaking and inventive – you are making you own pudding after all!

Put the mixture into the moulds or into one big mould and cover with a small circle of baking paper. Then wrap each into a big square of baking paper and twist the ends on top. Wrap this into a square of foil and twist the ends then tie a rope around the mould, just below the rim and leave a loop – to retrieve the pudding after cooking. Cover and leave them to steep until the next day or two!

Put the puddings into a jam pan or a large cooking pan, pour some water in, being careful to only go halfway up the sides of the moulds – you will need to top up later but better not to drown the cakes… If unsure, you can stand the moulds on upturned jars or a small rack.

All ingredients together

All ingredients together mixed

Cover the pan with foil or a lid and cook on low flame  for 3 hours, checking the water level from time to time.

Let them cool down and put them under a cloth in a cool, dark corner of the house until Christmas day. A cellar would be ideal but failing that I have put mine under a bed!

On Christmas morning, you will need to steam them again in the same way for 2 to 3 hours. Serve warm, pour a thimble of rum over and set light to it!

I love the festive, lovely glow of anything flambéed! Love the smell it leaves behind too…

Stir and wish

Stir and wish for a happy Christmas day

 

 

 

 

Mini Christmas cakes for well-wishing

TAMK:

In preparation for a Christmas coffee with girlfriends tomorrow morning, I have baked these little beauties in the afternoon after a grisly midday run and as they are releasing their fragrant appeal through the house, I thought I would reblog this to remind all it is time for some Christmas baking…
Happy baking – and do not get as forgetful as I did just now and – OMG!- I forgot to put in half of the spices … So it is just vanilla, ginger and rum in there… A new twist on my Xmas recipe.

Originally posted on travels around my kitchen:

This morning at 11am, A. and I went to Westminster Abbey for the magical “Crib service” in the royal cathedral- because prayers and Carols are as essential to my Christmas as mince-pies and foie gras ! 
Halfway through the nave, a life-size nativity scene awaited us, on a bed of straw, next to two beautifully lit trees… and lots of small children joined in the nicest and best loved carols. It was a very moving, secluded and intimate service – but you are also in for a treat if you have booked seats for the 4pm candlelit Christmas service of today.
There were only a few people with us, all gathered around the Crib and with the 30 metres of the nave above us, figuring the infinite sky beyond the barn. We talked of shepherds coming to worship the babe and of their gifts of lamb. I thought of giving…

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Preparing for the festive season? Here some ideas…

I went to Borough Market last Friday morning, looking for some early Xmas spirit and I found: a bowlful of meaty Cep mushrooms, my 3-bird Christmas roast to order and some juicy medjool dates to stuff with marzipan, amongst other delights…

Where to get your Christmas shopping

Here is where to get your Christmas shopping…

My Christmas lunch menu is taking shape and the 3-bird roast from Borough Market will be its central piece. I wanted a traditional 3-bird roast but as there are only 5 of us and the goose version serves at least 8, I have settled for a more modest  version: So it is turkey breast and sausage meat with cranberries, inside a pheasant, inside a duck! The classic 3-bird roast is a pheasant inside a duck inside a goose, all boned and stuffed…

For starters, we will have a celery and stilton soup, then the roast with duck fat roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes, followed by a lemon posset with shortbread and a little of the traditional Christmas pudding – my husband insists! May be a glass of Port with it, although the pudding will be flambéd in rum.

I love using Christmas markets to furnish my table at this time of year and we plan to visit Winchester lovely English Christmas market and maybe even go for  a day to Birmingham German inspired market, one of the biggest in Europe.

In London, there are plenty to choose from and one of my favourites is already up in front of the Tate Modern and along South Bank. Visit at dusk for a really atmospheric experience.

Borough Market

Borough Market

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The countdown to Christmas starts on Monday the 1st with a suitable Advent calendar and then from the 4th, the decorations can go up. I will start with a Christmas wreath on the door and this time I will delay buying my Christmas tree until mid December, having learnt my lesson last year: I chose a majestic Nordman Fir tree but having bought it far too early, it was dry as fire wood by Christmas night…

Choose a beautiful wreath to hang on your door on the 1st!

Choose a beautiful wreath to hang on your door on the 1st!

Tartine of fresh figs and fresh cheese – plus fig jam!

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Another one of my “tartines”

A few weeks ago, I had a windfall of fresh figs from a friend and neighbour and here I post one of my favourite “tartines”!

Ingredients list:

  • Slice of bread
  • Fresh goat cheese
  • Fresh basil
  • Two fresh figs
  • Cracked pepper, optional

Take a slice of Poilâne bread – or any other sourdough or artisan bread with substance- , spread a nice fresh goat cheese over, slice a juicy fig on top, then decorate with chopped basil and Pedro Jimenez reduction or a thick balsamic vinegar. Perfect lunch!

My neighbour grows her figs in central London in her front garden and I enlisted the help of my son on half-term break to go and get a small boxful! They were green but nicely ripe and I decided to do a jam with the rest of it.

Adding vanilla and cinnamon into it, I cooked a truly delicious jam and managed to fill two pots of London fig jam – a very special thing indeed!

Collected in Hammersmith!

Collected in Hammersmith!

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Recipe for the fig jam:

Ingredients list:

  • Figs, 2 kg
  • Jam sugar (with pectine), 1 kg
  • Cinnamon sticks 2
  • Vanilla bean, one scraped
  • Lemon juice of one lemon

Halve the fruit or quarter them and put all the ingredients in a jam pan.

Get to boiling point, rolling for 3 minutes, then reserve until the next day, covered with a grease proof paper so the jam does not develop a skin.

Next day: Get to boiling point again and keep on a rolling boil for 5 minutes.

Put in sterilised jars straight away and screw the tops then turn each jar upside down so the air inside is sterilised through the hot jam.

Enjoy with bread, cheese or just as a spooned sweet.

This is surely a little bit late for figs in most parts of Europe but I am so thrilled I still managed to gather those in my neighbourhood that I can’t resist posting it.

Here is my son, grabbing some earlier!

The gathering

The gathering

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Crumble of rhubarb, apples and blackcurrant GF

Pie is my favourite number...

Pie is my favourite number…

Over my years as a London based foodie, I have developed an addiction to pies, crumbles, cobblers and anything with a crust outside and stewed fruit inside… The simple mention of this sends a tremor along my spine: Fruit and crust, a very sexy combination indeed. I still do love tarts and tartines, but I think I slightly favour a crust ON TOP rather than UNDER.

Each season offers its own enticing variations and Autumn is a season for : rhubarb, sharp apples and black currants. All three are quite acidic so in this version, I have put a little more sugar than usual to counter balance the tartness of the fruit but you can make it less sweet if you wish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 stalk of rhubarb
  • Bramley or other cooking apples, 2
  • Handful of frozen blackcurrant
  • Cornflour, 1 Tbsp
  • For the Gluten Free crust:
  • Ground almond, 100g
  • Chesnut flour or rice flour, 50g
  • Butter, 100g
  • sugar, 100g

Cut up all the fruit, mix it with the frozen berries and the cornflour – the object of the cornflour is to soak up the juice of the rhubarb to avoid a very wet pie!

Mix the flour, sugar and butter with the tip of your fingers until you have a sand-like texture. Lay the fruit in a pie dish or gratin dish. I have used frozen blackcurrants here, but you can opt for blackberries instead. They have a more subtle flavour but work deliciously toward a very British taste.

Top the fruit with the flour mix, trying to cover all of the fruit but do not worry if the lumps do not hide it perfectly. Just try and shake your sandy mix everywhere.

Put in a hot oven for 45min at 180º C.

Eat warm with some clotted cream or yogurt. If you are in France, it goes also well with a nice Faisselle or full fat fromage frais. This is the ultimate in homely, comforting puddings and with this GF version you won’t be leaving anybody out!

A patchy cover is not a problem...

A patchy cover is not a problem…