Monthly Archives: December 2014

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

 

 

 

 

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Mini Christmas cakes for well-wishing

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.

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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