Indulgent Christmas Pudding
This is a recipe I found in a free magazine, published by Safeways (remember them?) for customers in 2002. I tried it (my first attempt at making a Christmas pud) and the result was so delicious I have made it every year since then. You certainly can’t make this a hurry, but as a project for a wet, windy day in late autumn it’s perfect. Your house will be filled with the smells of fruit, spice and citrus – a foretaste of the season to come, and although a shop-bought pudding might be easier, it certainly will not taste as good as this.
450g (1lb) luxury mixed dried fruit (or create your own by adding favourite extras to basic dried fruit mix)
115g (4oz) unsalted butter (allow to soften at room temperature)
150g (5oz) muscovado sugar
2 large free range eggs
50g (2oz) self-raising flour
50g (2oz) breadcrumbs (white or wholemeal)
250g (9oz) grated apple (eating or cooking)
50g (2oz) toasted chopped brazil nuts
Rind and ½ the juice of one lemon and one orange
50ml (2 fl oz) sherry
½ teaspoon each of mixed spice, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon
You will also need:
1.2 litre (2 pint) pudding basin
Greaseproof paper or baking parchment
A large saucepan with lid that your basin will fit into.
Here’s what you do:
1. Put the mixed dried fruit, the grated rinds and ½ the juice of the lemon and orange, together with the sherry, into a bowl. Cover with a plate or cling-film and soak for at least 4 hours, stirring every so often. (You can do this overnight if you like but don’t worry about getting up to stir it!)
2. Grease the pudding basin. Cut a circle of greaseproof paper about 2cms wider than the bottom of the basin, snip the sides at intervals all the way round and use this circle to line the bottom of your basin.
3. Beat the butter and muscovado sugar together until pale and fluffy; little by little add in 2 large eggs, together with a teaspoon or two of flour to prevent curdling.
4. Mix the self-raising flour, mixed spice, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon, breadcrumbs, grated apple and toasted chopped brazil nuts in a separate bowl. Add to egg mixture, together with soaked fruit and liquid; stir until all ingredients are blended.
5. Spoon mixture into basin, pressing down well. Cover with double thickness greaseproof paper, pleated in the middle (to allow the pudding space to rise), and secure with string. Overwrap with a double layer of foil and tie this with string too.
6. Put into a large saucepan, fill to half-way up basin sides with boiling water. Cover, simmer for 4-5 hours until risen and firm. Check the water level every so often and top up with boiling water from a kettle as necessary. Alternatively, if you have a pressure cooker you can speed up the cooking time; just follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to cook Christmas puddings.
7. Remove from the heat and carefully lift the basin from the pan. Allow the pudding to cool completely, remove string, foil and paper. Re-cover with new greaseproof paper and foil. Store in a cool place for 6-8 weeks.