Traditionally, Christmas pudding is made on ‘Stir-up Sunday’ at the end of November. However, the pudding can be made earlier than this if more convenient: feed it with a little more brandy or rum once it is cooked and cold, and keep in a cool place until Christmas Day.
CHRISTMAS PUDDING – Serves 8-10
- 75g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
- 450g dried fruit (use a mixture of sultanas, raisins and snipped apricots)
- 1 small cooking apple, peeled, cored and roughly chopped (about 175g/6 oz) finely grated rind and juice of 1 orange
- 50ml brandy or rum, plus extra for feeding and flaming
- 100g light muscovado sugar
- 2 eggs
- 100g self-raising flour
- 1 level teaspoon ground mixed spice
- 40g fresh white breadcrumbs
- 40g whole shelled almonds, roughly chopped
Lightly butter a 1.4 litre pudding basin. Cut a small square of foil and press into the base of the basin. Measure the sultanas, raisins, apricots and apple into a bowl with the orange juice. Add the measured brandy or rum and leave to marinate for about 1 hour.
Put the measured butter, sugar and grated orange rind into a large bowl and cream together with a wooden spoon or a hand-held electric whisk until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a little flour if the mixture starts to curdle.
Sift together the flour and mixed spice, then fold into the creamed mixture with the breadcrumbs and the nuts. Add the dried fruits, apple and liquid and stir well.
Spoon into the prepared pudding basin, pressing the mixture down, and level the top with the back of a spoon. Cover the pudding with a layer of greaseproof paper and foil, both pleated across the middle to allow for expansion. Tie securely with string and trim off excess paper and foil with scissors.
To steam, put the pudding in the top of a steamer filled with simmering water, cover with a lid and steam for about 8 hours, topping up the water as necessary. To boil the pudding, put a metal jam-jar lid into the base of a large pan to act as a trivet. Put the pudding on to this and pour in enough boiling water to come one-third of the way up the bowl. Cover with a lid, bring the water back to the boil, then simmer for about 7 hours, until the pudding is a glorious deep brown colour, topping up the water as necessary.
Remove the pudding from the steamer or pan and cool completely. Make holes in the pudding with a fine skewer and pour in a little more brandy or rum to feed. Discard the paper and foil and replace with fresh. Store in a cool, dry place.
On Christmas Day, steam or boil the pudding for about an hour to reheat. Turn the pudding on to a serving plate. To flame, warm 3–4 tablespoons brandy or rum in a small pan, pour it over the hot pudding and set light to it.
Make and cook the pudding 6–8 weeks before Christmas. As it does take a fair time to steam, make things easier for yourself by preparing the pudding up to the end of step 4 the day before. Keep the pudding in a cool place overnight, and steam as directed the next day. Cover the cold pudding with fresh greaseproof paper and foil and store in a cool place until Christmas. You can also freeze Christmas pudding, but as it stores so well it doesn’t seem worth it! If it really helps you to freeze it, then allow it to mature for a month before freezing.
This extract was taken from ‘Mary Berry’s Christmas Collection,’ by Mary Berry (£20, Headline)