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.
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.
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, 50g
- 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.
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…