Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
Published December 24th 2010
In my family the job of making the Christmas pudding is a trusted and important role coveted by many, but held by my Grandmother. She's the one with both the experience and the recipe. Family folklore suggests that it's based on the basic recipe but she's added her own additional flair to it, and when I say flair, in this case I mean quota of cocktail soaked dried fruits. This is my guess at her recipe for a dish that I don't particularly favour the taste of, but I adore the tradition of, and without which it wouldn't really be Christmas.
Grandma starts with brandy (2 tbls), stout (75mls) and barley wine (75mls), for the pudding, but the dried fruits have been pre-soaked in brandy, and or rum - some years she makes it with one, some years she uses another.
She uses 125g of sultanas, 250g of currants, 125g of raisins and 125g of candied peel, glacÚ cherries and crystalised ginger in varying combinations. These are all soaked in liquor for several days before she gets down to mixing them with other ingredients. Anything that's too big - a whole glacÚ cherry for example - she'll chop beforehand, because she's the kind of woman to make thrifty choices regarding shopping for dried fruit.
On the first day of Christmas pudding, she starts the mixing process. So into a huge - in my house Christmas pudding only - mixing bowl go 110gs of suet, 50s of self raising flour, half a teaspoon of nutmeg, half a teaspoon of cinnamon and a whole teaspoon of mixed spice. After that's had a bit of a stir, she adds 120gs of breadcrumbs and 225gs of soft brown sugar, then starts to stir in the, now potent, dried fruit, along with a grated cooking apple and the zest of half an orange and a whole lemon. At this point, if you're adding nuts - finely chopped almonds are traditional - add them, the basic recipe says 25gs. We don't usually have nuts because not all the family likes them.
Once all those ingredients have been mixed up into the huge bowl, take a second bowl and pour in the wet ingredients - rum and or brandy, stout, barley wine and two large eggs - then beat them all together. Once they're mixed pour them over the dry ingredients in the big bowl.
Grandma usually made sure us kids were in the house for this bit, because when we were small she would always make us help her stir, under the guise of making a pudding wish. At this point the mixture would be quite gloopy still, and if it wasn't she'd add more stout as we stirred. Once everyone had put their arm - and back - into the stirring, Grandma would cover the pudding bowl with one of several pieces of pudding muslin, which are supposedly handed down with the recipe.
The next day the pudding mix was upended into the muslin and tied at the top - bear in mind that our family didn't have a neat, pudding bowl shaped pudding, we had a round, ball like one. This ball of muslin wrapped pudding was then hung in a huge saucepan and steamed for eight hours. Grandma preferred not to have us kids around on that day of the pudding making process because there was always a lot of topping up of hot water to be done.
We used to get home and the pudding would be cooling. After which Grandma would change its dressing, adding a layer of baking paper between the pudding and a layer of fresh muslin, and she'd then hang it under her vast dining room table for about eight weeks until Christmas day. It may sound a bit grim that she'd hang the pudding under the table but it was one of the darkest and coolest places in the house.
On Christmas day she'd get it out early - Christmas dinner was one of the few meals served in her dining room - and steam it again for another two hours or so before unwrapping it into its special pudding dish and sticking her plastic sprig of holly in it. Mum, or other trusted and responsible member of the family would then be in charge of bringing the pudding to the table, while Grandma followed behind with her gravy dish of already flaming brandy which would be slowly poured over the pudding at the table - which was one of the highlights of Christmas day, even in a bumper gift year and the year I got my first bike.
Grandma used to have a selection of pudding condiments available: ice cream for myself, who didn't really care for Christmas pudding beyond the spectacle and tradition of it, custard for my Grandfather and brandy butter for my Dad.
That looks so nice. I love it when things have rum or brandy in them, it makes them taste so much better because you can feel a slight taste of alcohol but not too much. Nice receipe you have there! Good on grandma :)
By Lil Uni Girl - senior reviewer Saturday, 1st of January @ 01:40 am
I tried it with cognac too and it comes out very nicely. But this year I made it with mandarin brandy and it was possibly the best ever. Really brings that dried fruit to life! It's just time consuming! But well worth it.