Christmas Pudding – It’s Never Too Early

Although some people dread being told they are like their mother, I aspire to be like mine (aka “Superwoman”) in almost every way (excluding only the get married and have children part). I thought I had a fair way still to go until recently, with Christmas rapidly approaching and me hosting my first Christmas, I have all but become my mother. It started in early October with me saying things like “Y, darling, please remember to save all the toilet rolls as I’m making our own crackers for Christmas this year”. And is now continuing this week with me making our traditional Christmas pudding (I am under strict instructions from Superwoman that the pudding must be done either this week or the next – don’t mean to stress you out, but have you made yours?).

Superwoman sent me “her” recipe (i.e. Delia’s – well actually, Delia’s recipe with Superwoman’s amendments) for Christmas pudding last weekend, and I went to work procuring all the ingredients I needed. Then I got to the bit in the recipe she’d emailed me which says “I don’t need to remind you to share the stirring and the coins/trinkets adding with all and sundry.” The coins! How could I forget – every year every member of the family had to stir the pudding and add a coin whilst making a wish. Superwoman would schedule the pudding making to ensure all family members were present. I needed coins stat! What did we ever do before Google? (found them on┬áthis website┬áby the way – they are real sixpences from 1921 to about 1944. You can’t use today’s coins as they will oxidise and kill everyone [however tempting it may be to try them out on your relatives] so you need silver coins)On Tuesday night I began the easy recipe:

  1. 110g shredded suet (strangely Superwoman has to get it from the butcher in Sydney, whilst I can get it from Tesco here)
  2. 50g self raising flour
  3. 110g white bread crumbs
  4. 1 level tsp ground mixed spice
  5. 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (or a freshly opened jar in my case)
    good pinch ground cinnamon
  6. 225g soft dark brown sugar
  7. 110g raisins
  8. 110g sultanas
  9. 150g currants (I used dried blueberries)
  10. 70g figs
  11. 70g prunes
  12. 30g apricots
    (the mix of dried fruit can be of your own making, for e.g. Delia likes more currants and peel which Superwoman and I do not. For larger dried fruit make sure you shop them into smaller pieces e.g. figs and apricots. Whatever the mix, your dried fruit needs to weigh approximately 520-540g)
  13. 25g almonds, skinned and chopped (if you get ones with the skin on, leave to soak in boiling water to remove the skins)
  14. 1 small cooking apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
    grated zest of 1/2 large orange
    grated zest of 1/2 large lemon
  15. 2 eggs
  16. 150ml stout (or 75ml stout & 75ml barley wine)
  17. 2T rum

To begin, in a large bowl mix the suet, flour, breadcrumbs, spices and sugar. Gradually add and mix the dried fruit, almonds, apple and zests. In a separate bowl/jug beat together the alcohol and eggs. Pour this over the other ingredients and mix very thoroughly.
At this stage you should add your coins one at a time, making a wish whilst stirring in each one. My coins didn’t arrive until several days later, so I left the mix in a bowl in the fridge until ready. In any event, you should leave the mix overnight before continuing with the next stage. We arrived home at 1am Friday night and I knew I had to boil the pudding for 6 hours. What better time than right then? Grease your pudding bowl and cut out a small circle of greaseproof paper to put at the bottom.

Pack the mix into the greased bowl. Cover with greaseproof paper and then foil – you will need a large enough piece to go down the outside of the bowl, below the lip. You will also need to make a pleat in the foil/paper to give the pudding room to rise (this is especially important if your mix fills right to the top of your pudding bowl, less important if not). Next (and it helps if you have two people – luckily I had Y, but therefore no photos) tie string around the lip of the bowl, to make it air tight. It can also help to tie yourself a little handle with the string. Trim excess foil/paper.

Place the pudding in a large pot and fill up with water to about 2/3 up the side of the pudding bowl. Leave to boil for 6 hours, checking every 2 hours to fill up water if necessary (I got out of bed at 3am, 5am and then 7am to check mine – can you feel the love?). The water doesn’t need to be boiling vigorously – a constant simmer will do.Once done, take the pudding out of the saucepan. Remove the paper and foil and cover with cling wrap.

The pudding should be kept in a cool place until Christmas Day – avoid the fridge if possible, but in Australia we always have to keep ours in the fridge at this time of year, and Superwoman’s pudding has always been amazing regardless.On Christmas Day, you need to wrap and seal the pudding as before (but the pleat won’t be necessary, as it won’t rise anymore) and boil for another 3 hours. I’ll be pouring brandy or rum over mine to light while it’s sitting centre stage on the table, and will of course be making hard sauce and custard. I’ll update you more on this closer to the day and will definitely let you know how the pudding works out! (I regret not using one of my wishes to ensure that it is delicious!)

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