“They gathered at the furthest reaches of the known universe – millions of them. What are they? Christmas Puddings. Why were they gathering there? They were preparing to invade PLANET EARTH!” Jeremy Strong, Invasion of the Christmas Puddings.
Da, ding ding, dinga-ling, ding, ding, dingaling do…its nearly Christmas!! That’s right – two exclamation marks. And what better way to celebrate the Christmassy feeling than preparing your Christmas puddings. I used to hate them as a kid, but now I’m all grown up (a bit) who can resist a pound of fruit and nuts sozzled in a gallon of dark ale, brandy and rum.
There are some wonderful Christmas Pudding books – oddly, they are either about murder or evil puddings made from deadly sticky matter that turn humans into zombies (Invasion of the Christmas Puddings). Even Poirot has a look in with a poisonous pudding in The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (Agatha Christie).
Christmas pudding is also known as plum pudding…but oddly contain no plums. Like me, the Duchess in Plum Pudding for Christmas (Virginia Kahl) thinks that there should be plums in plum puddings. She becomes hysterical when she realises she’s got no plums in the pantry to make her plum pudding. She obviously has a secret recipe that the rest of us don’t know about – as to this day, I have never seen a recipe that contains a single plum.
So, after scouring all my recipe books, and Mrs Beeton, I have created my own recipe. This one contains plums as well as the usual fruity joy that goes into the traditional christmas pudding.
WARNING: Although this version is not murderous, villanous or intending to take over the world, steaming these puddings will literally invade your kitchen for the next 8 hours.
Christmas Pudding Recipe.
A punnet of plums – simmered in a splash of water and Grand Marnier until soft
4oz Raisins (Mrs Beeton recommends muscatel raisins)
4oz Whole almonds (roughly chopped)
40z vegetable suet
3 fl oz Rum
3 fl oz Brandy
Dark Ale (use enough to moisten the pudding – you may need to top up the puddings after they have sat overnight)
1 Apple (chopped)
4 oz self raising flour
4 oz breadcrumbs
8 oz muscovado dark brown sugar
1tsp mixed spice
Put all your dry ingredients into the bowl and mix thoroughly after you add each one.
Pour the ale into the eggs and whisk together before adding to your dry ingredients.
Once all the ingredients are ready, get everyone in the house to stir, with their eyes closed and make a wish. Its an old English tradition and if you don’t your pudding won’t light on Christmas day.
Leave the mixture to soak overnight covered with a wet tea towel.
Now, it’s steaming time. Grease your pudding bowls and fill with mixture, making sure you squish everything together. Cover with greaseproof paper and pudding cloth. Put on the lid and tie together with string. Put into a saucepan of water and steam. Large puddings will take around 8 hours. Smaller puddings take about 4-6 hours.
After steaming leave them in the cupboard until Christmas. I like to open them up every week and just top up with a bit of extra booze.
On Christmas day you can either steam them for 20 minutes or put it in the microwave to bring it back to life. Make sure you drizzle some rum or brandy on top and set fire to it.
Two months later – and here’s the results…
“In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit entered — flushed, but smiling proudly — with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.” – Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol