I really felt like baking this weekend, but I’m on a diet that restricts my shovelling flour, butter and sugar into my mouth (believe me, it’s for the best) and with a new sudden interest in Christmas (I had been feeling quite apprehensive about the first one without Mum, to the point where I was avoiding thinking about it, but I’ve now taken on her ‘you can’t change it so get on with it and enjoy’ attitude) I decided to make a christmas pudding and some mincemeat.
As always, I used my Gran’s recipe, I’ve blogged it before, here, but below are the details again:
85g Fresh white breadcrumbs
35g Candid Peel (finely chopped)
15g Glace Cherries (chopped)
15g Almonds (chopped)
100g Soft Brown Sugar
1/2 Tsp Mixed Spice
Grating of Nutmeg
1/2 Carrot, Grated
1 Tbls Brandy
Grated zest of 1/4 Orange and Lemon
Mix all the above in a bowl and leave overnight.
1/4 Pint Milk
1/2 Tbls Treacle
1 Lrg Egg (beaten)
Mix the above wet ingredients (next day) and then add to the bowl and stir well.
50g SR Flour
Add sifted flour, mix well and pack into a bowl (about 600ml capacity). Cover with 2 layers of baking parchment and 1 layer of foil, with a fold in the middle for expansion, tie around tightly with string and add a handle for lifting the pudding out of the pot. Steam for 5-6 hours then, when completely cold, replace backing parchment and foil with new.
It’s a lovely pudding and, as with most versions, can be kept for months before eating; we have, on occasion, eaten one made the year before that’s been stored away in a dark cupboard and it’s been perfectly good.
I took the time to pick through the dried fruit, removing any left over stalks. This always makes me think of Gran, she used to have trays and trays of fruit running up to the festive season and she’d sit for hours picking them over. You don’t need to do this, but the stalks can taste gritty when you bite into them, especially in mincemeat.
When you are ready to eat it, you need to steam the pud again, Delia says for about 2 hours, but then that’s for a bigger pudding, so maybe you could steam for less time? I know you can also microwave it, but you’ll need to Google that one.
Mistakes? Yep, I made a few. I used a 500ml pudding bowl which was clearly a bit small, there was some room left for expansion when cooking, but seeing the dome it formed on top as it cooked, not enough. I should have gone for a 600ml, or even 700ml one. Also, I realised just as I started to steam the pudding that I’d used plain flour instead of self-raising – doh! I simply scraped the raw pudding mix onto a big plate and added the relevant baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, mixing it in well. Gran used both with plain flour in her original version, so it should work out fine. I also revised the cooking time from my earlier post to 5-6 hours steaming after Mum laughed at the 8 I’d originally gone for some years ago, to be fair, it did say 8 in recipes I’d used as references but probably for much bigger puddings. I notice I reduced Gran’s flour after cross checking with Delia versions, no idea why, maybe I’ll up it back to the original quantities next year.
I’ve ordered some charms from Vivi Celebrations, I’m planning to cheat and tuck them under the pudding when it’s served, probably wrapped in little squares of greaseproof paper, that way everyone gets one and there is less chance of the boys choking on them. I’m liking this shop, if money were no option I’d definitely have gone for the super deluxe versions!
Whilst I was making the pudding, I though it would be interesting to check out Mrs Beeton’s versions, I was quite interested to see that at least one of the plum puddings is almost identical. I hope you can enlarge the photo below, should you wish to see the details.
I’ve genuinely enjoyed this weekend’s cooking (I also made some of Delia’s Mincemeat as I had so much dried fruit in), it makes me feel connected with people sadly no longer here. My husband and I argue often on this subject, he sometimes feels ‘suffocated’ by my need for nostalgic objects and rituals from the past, but I find great comfort in them (although I appreciate living with me and all my junk must be very stressful for him). I enjoy knowing I’m keeping traditions alive, I still always make bread sauce in the way my family always have and their stuffing balls whenever we roast a bird (I’ll blog the recipes when I next make them) and I quite like that my boys are growing up with this same traditions, revised where necessary to make them our own….I say that, but they are both letting me down on the bread sauce side as they wont eat it, I’ll keep trying and slowly wear them down 😉