Sunday, 20 December 2009

Christmas Pudding

The usual orderly approach to Christmas Day has been anything but orderly this year. The late-late cidermaking hasn't helped, neither has an untimely flurry of real work following a Summer of bone-idleness. Suffice to say that the Christmas spirit has arrived very late this year...

Things are really kicking off now, which is just as well since it's less than a week before the big day! The tree is up, there's snow on the ground, and I've finally got round to making the Christmas Cake and Pudding.

Ho, Ho, Ho I hear you say, far too late to mature properly for Christmas Day. Stir-up Sunday, the traditional day to make your Christmas Pudding, came and went on the 22nd of November. Ha, Ha, Ha, I reply, it's not a problem when you're still eating last year's cake, and the pudding recipe I've used is a cross between a plum pudding and a steamed sponge cake. No maturing necessary, and I give you the recipe here because it's never too late to steam-up your kitchen for Christmas.

I've taken inspiration for the pudding from the accurately named 'Farmhouse Cookery', a veritable treasure trove of Irish recipes, produced by the lovely ladies of the Ballylennon Presbyterian Church, County Donegal. A full three quarters of this book is devoted to baking, which is as it should be. Play to your strengths that's what I say... So a tip of the hat to Anna McKean of Rateen, St Johnston whose recipe I almost followed to the letter.

For a medium sized pud, beat together 110g Butter and the same of Soft Brown Sugar until fluffy, or your arm succumbs to tennis-elbow. Add One and a Half Eggs, 40g Plain Flour, 25g Chopped Almonds, 110g Brown Breadcrumbs, a tsp of Mixed Spice, and a Quarter tsp of Baking Powder. Stir around a bit then add 350g Mixed Fruit which includes mixed peel, along with a peeled, cored and diced Cooking Apple. Things will have got pretty dry by now, so add the juice and grated rind of Half a Lemon, along with 2-4 tbsp of Sweet Cider, I used the same Henny's 2008 Vintage Cider which I recommended for the Cheese Board. Stir very well and transfer to a well buttered pudding bowl. The pud will rise by an inch or so, so cover with foil tied in such a way as to allow a little expansion, and steam for 3 Irish Hours (maybe a little less, maybe a little more, check with a skewer to see whether it's cooked through). When it's done, allow to cool a little, then pierce all over with a skewer and drizzle as much Cider Brandy or Calvados into the pud as you feel necessary. Quite a lot in our case!

Being made with butter rather than suet, this pudding will probably not keep so well as a more traditional, heavy plum pudding, though the Brandy should help.


Rosie Rodgers said...

Do u have to reheat this pud before eating like traditional pudding? Dying to try this out!!

Mark said...

Yes, microwave is easiest or the traditional steaming method. Treat exactly the same as a traditional pud (Brandy Butter, Custard, Cream, whatever), it's just a lighter and fruitier texture.