Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas Pudding

A couple of years ago, Mum handed me my Nonna's pudding basin and said "How about you make the Christmas pudding this year?" So I did and have done ever since.
I've been waiting for two weeks to find 1) a day where I had six hours clear time to oversee a simmering boiler and 2) a day that was less than 30 degrees C. Yesterday was the day, and here is the result. I'm rather pleased.
It's harder than you think to find a good recipe for Christmas pudding - by "good" I mean one that does not include suet. Here is the recipe I use is my own variation of a recipe from the Australian Women's Weekly book "Kitchen".

Steamed Christmas Pudding

250g sultanas
250g raisins
150g currants
50g mixed peel
1/2 cup brandy
250g softened butter
500g firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon parisian essence (I used this, but have no idea what it is)
4 eggs
150g plain flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
300g stale breadcrumbs ( I whizzed up stale raisin bread in the food processor for this)
1 coarsely grated green apple

1. Combine the dried fruit and alcohol. Cover and store in the fridge overnight, or up to two weeks, as I did.
2. Grease a 2 litre pudding basin, line the base with baking paper.
3. Beat the butter, sugar and essence until just combined. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating in between additions. Fold in fruit, then stir in flour and spice, then breadcrumbs and apple, mixing well.
4. Spoon the pudding mixture in the basin. Cover with pleated baking paper and foiled. Fold tightly over the rim, the secure the lid.
5. Place basin in boiler on an upturned plate, with enough boiling water to come halfway up the side of the basin. Boil covered for 6 hours, replenishing water when necessary.
6. If not eating straight away, let cool to room temperature. Wrap well in cling wrap (eek!) and foil, then place back in the basin and put in the fridge until needed. Freeze leftover for up to a year.

We always have Christmas at my parents' house, along with my four brothers and their wives and girlfriend, and nine grandchildren, and sometimes one of my brothers' in-laws. Twenty one in all. This is a big change from previously, when up to 50 extended family members would sit down for lunch. It was a lot of fun, but a lot of work. Eventually, Mum decided she was over hosting such an undertaking, so 21 is the pared down version of Christmas - well at least as pared down as we can get.

The likely fate of the pudding is that half will be eaten late in the afternoon on Christmas, a few hours after Christmas lunch. Lunch is always cold - seafood, turkey and ham with salads. The pudding is the only thing eaten hot all day. From previous experience, about half will be eaten, and the other half will be frozen to be eaten on some blustery day next July.


Hollis Engley said...

Hi, Paola. Your photo of the pudding took me back to the "suet pudding" and "chocolate pudding" that my grandmother used to make at Christmas when I was growing up on Martha's Vineyard Island in Massachusetts, USA. I always thought the suet pudding was a variation of the pudding recipe brought by her own grandparents when they came to the US from England in the 1800s. Always served hot with whipped cream in her house. I'll save your Nonna's recipe, which sounds wonderful.
Hollis Engley

SMB tech geeks said...

It looks like the pudding of champions & I now feel very guilty for spending just £2.00 for a shop-bought fake, which will doubtless resemble incinerated alcoholic cardboard by the time it puts in an appearance at the dining table on Christmas day ;0)

Best wishes for the festive season to you & your family.

Sincerely, Emily said...

Wow - that looks wonderful. I can't believe it will last three weeks until Christmas. I think someone in our house would start nibbling it away ever so slowly and it would be gone well before Christmas arrived. Emily in So. TX

Paola said...

Hollis, I think suet pudding is a very English thing. All the English food writers use suet in their puddings, which is hard to find here in Aus. Hope this pudding tastes as good as it smells.

SMB tech geeks, doctor up your pudding with a bit of extra brandy and rum, lots of custard...and really, what else would you want??

Emily, fortunately the chief nibbler around here is on a health kick, so probably won't nibble as much as he would like to. As for the rest of Chritmas preparations, I've done not much yet...

Thanks for commenting and happy festive season to all...