October, 2016 · By Coryanne Ettiene
If there is one smell that captures the heart of Christmas, it is the smell of freshly steamed Christmas Pudding. It lingers in the house for days, wafting around corners and becoming all the more pronounced with each slice offered. To make a Christmas Pudding is to capture the season in one bowl of cheer.
This is the dish of memories. For many of us, our grandmother made it every year, for others it is the dense package offered from a neighbor purchased from the grocery store and offered on Christmas Eve as a holiday tiding. It is an acquired taste, often too aromatic for some, and utterly delightful for others. Like Marmite, you either love it or loathe it. To that I say, you need to taste it fresh out of the kitchen, not the store. It is a labor of love that like a well packaged gift, stays with you throughout the year. My first taste of Christmas Pudding came the year I married Alex. For him, to have Christmas void of a Christmas Pudding is like skipping the tree; the two are essential elements of the holiday season. The Sunday before Advent is a day dedicated to the kitchen, and more specifically, Christmas Pudding. It sparks the holiday season in our house and sets the tone for the merriment that will follow.
There are many recipes for Christmas Pudding, all with slight variations depending on the family. But 3 rules weaves true amongst all the recipes: generous doses of aromatic spices, heaving cups of dried fruit and a festive dose of booze.
- 4 Cups of dried fruit (sultanas, raisons, currants or apricots)
- 1/2 Cup of candied orange peel
- 1/2 Cup of candied lemon peel
- 1/2 Cup of slivered almonds
- 1 2/3 Cup of all purpose white flour
- 4 Cups of basic bread crumbs
- 1 3/4 Cup of Vegetable Shortening, or Suet if you have it
- 1 1/2 Cups of Orange Marmalade
- 2 Tablespoons of Pumpkin Spice, or Mixed Spice
- Pinch of Salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon of grated nutmeg
- 1 1/2 Cup of Light Muscovado Sugar
- Grated rind and juice of 1 medium lemon
- 6 eggs, beaten
- 1 Cup of dark beer
- 4 tablespoon of Brandy, or dark rum plus a jigger for the cream
- Butter for greasing
- 1 Cup of heavy whipping cream
- Mix all the dry ingredients together using a wide wish so that they gently fold together. Add the lemon rind and juice, stir. Then add the eggs and marmalade and whisk together until a batter forms. Add half of the beer and stir until fully blended. Cover the mixing bowl with a cotton tea towel and allow it to rest at room temperature for 24 hours.
- The following day, add the remaining beer and the brandy or rum, beat well to ensure that remains booze is soaked into the batter. You will have a very thick better that does not pour, but rather sits heavily in the bowl.
- Grease your pudding basin well and then scoop the batter into the basin, leveling the top so that it is nice and flat. Tie the Christmas pudding with a sheet of parchment paper and tie tightly with a length of kitchen twine. Then cover with foil and tie again to secure the foil to the pudding basin.
- Put the basin into a heavy deep stock pot filled with boiling water and slowly set down into water so that the water comes just below the tied string, not fully covering the pudding basin. Steam with the lid on for 3 hours, replacing the water as needed to ensure proper steaming.
- Once the Christmas pudding is steamed, remove from the pot and allow it to rest for 20 minutes before removing the foil and parchment paper. Slowly turn upside down. Once cool, whip up the cream and remaining brandy or rum, slather on top and serve either immediately. Alternatively, allow the pudding the rest, then seal in an air tight container for up to 3 weeks.
Note: In house Christmas Pudding is often served with Brandy Butter, but the children love it with whipped cream. Both are delicious, but if I had to choose one, the cream wins every time.