I know it’s easier to just buy one from a luxury supermarket and yes I am still recovering from the hours of work that went into my own and more importantly the argument I had this morning with my husband about blocking the sink with suet. He went as far as to remove the U bend from the system to show me why you shouldn’t pour the water you’ve steamed a christmas pudding in down the sink. (Yes he’s a little autistic!) My answer to this was ‘next year you give up two days of your life to make one and I’ll take 45 minutes out of my life to unblock the sink’! Despite all of this if you have never made your own Christmas pudding, then you are missing out on the sweet, dark flavours and mystifying, melting light pudding that only comes with home-made.
110g shredded suet
110g white bread crumbs
1 level tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
225g dark brown sugar
200g mixed dried fruit
50g chopped dried apricots
25g chopped almonds
1 apple cored and finely chopped
the grated zest of 1 navel orange
the grated zest of 1 lemon
50g self-raising flour
A 1.2 litre pudding basin, lightly greased, baking parchment, foil and string and a traditional or fan-type steamer.
1) Start the day before you want to steam the pudding. Take your largest mixing bowl and start by putting in the suet and breadcrumbs, spices and sugar. Mix these ingredients together thoroughly with your hands, then gradually mix in all the dried fruit, nuts, grated peel and apple.
2) In a smaller basin, measure out the brandy and stout, then add the eggs and beat these together. Pour over all other ingredients and mix together.
3) Now gather all the family round (in my case husband and cat) and let everyone have a really good stir and make a wish. I imagine my husband wished for a wife who could manage her sink better, and the cat a stocking full of crayfish! Cover the bowl and leave over night.
4) Next day stir in the sifted flour quite thoroughly, then pack the mixture into a lightly greased basin. Cover with a double layer of baking parchment and a sheet of foil and tie it securely with string. It’s a good idea to tie a piece of string across the top and make a handle.
5) Place the pudding in a steamer set over a saucepan filled with simmering water and steam the pudding for 8 hours. Make sure you keep a regular eye on the water underneath and top it up with boiling water straight from the kettle about halfway through the time.
6) When the pudding is steamed let it go cold, then remove the baking parchment and foil and replace them with some fresh ones, again make a string handle for manoeuvring. Now your pudding is ready for Christmas Day. Store in a cool place away from the light.
7) Christmas Day Steaming Instructions: Fill a saucepan three quarters full with boiling water, put it on the heat, when it comes back to the boil, place a steamer on top of the pan and turn it down to a gentle simmer. Put the pudding in the steamer, cover and leave to steam for approximately 2 hours.
8) Remove the pudding from the steamer and take off the wrapping. Slide a palette knife all round the pudding, then turn it out on a warmed plate. Warm a ladle of brandy over direct heat and as soon as the brandy is hot turn out and ask someone to light the top of the pudding with a long match. When the flames have died down, serve the pudding with Brandy butter or cream.
Writing by: Emma Barrett
Photography by: Ross Barrett