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Christmas Pudding

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Christmas Pudding

Christmas Pudding

Tom Kelly
Christmas Pudding is a traditional British dessert that is as much fun to make as it is to eat! Rich, sticky and flavorful, it is truly more like a pudding than any kind of cake. Your guests will applaud with delight when the pudding is set aflame right before serving.

Christmas Pudding is best made well ahead of the holiday (up to 6 weeks in advance) for the flavor to mature. It is tradition to make the pudding the Sunday before Advent (near the end of November). This delightful dish appears to be complicated but it is actual quite simple to prepare and most of the time needed is spent waiting.

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 10 hours

Total Time: 11 hours

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces dried mixed fruit (use golden raisins or sultanas, raisins, currants)
  • 1 ounce mixed candied peel, finely chopped (orange, lemon, etc.)
  • 1 small firm apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • ½ large orange, zest and juice
  • ½ lemon, zest and juice
  • 4 tbsp brandy, plus a little extra for soaking (or rum)
  • 2 ounces self-rising flour, sifted
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 ounces shredded suet, (vegetarian or beef)
  • 4 ounces soft, dark brown sugar
  • 4 ounces white fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 ounces whole shelled almonds, roughly chopped
  • 2 large, fresh eggs

Preparation:

Lightly grease a 2½ pint pudding basin (a basin is a ceramic bowl).

In a large mixing bowl, toss together the dried fruits, candied citrus peel, apple, orange and lemon juice. Stir in the brandy. Cover the bowl and let marinate for a couple of hours or, preferably, overnight.

In another large bowl, mix together the flour, nutmeg and cinnamon. Add the suet, sugar, bread crumbs, almonds, orange and lemon zest, and then stir again until all the ingredients are well combined. To the suet mixture, add the bowl of brandy and juice with the dried fruit. Whisk the eggs together lightly in a small bowl then stir into the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon. The mixture should be sloppy and easily drop from a spoon. Add a little more liquid if it is too thick.

At this point, it is a beloved Christmas tradition for the entire family to gather around the pudding bowl, take turns stirring, and everyone make a wish!

Transfer the mixture into the greased pudding basin, gently pressing the mixture down with the back of a spoon. Cover with a double layer of baking parchment or cheesecloth dusted with flour, then a layer of aluminum foil. Secure the foil down by tying a string around the bowl.

Place a rack or heavy bowl turned over (a terracotta pot also works) into a large pot filled with a couple inches of water. Put your bowl of pudding on top of the rack and steam the pudding for 7 to 8 hours. Make sure you check the water level often so it never boils dry (keep a kettle of water steaming on the stove for this). When the pudding is done, it will have a dense, sticky consistency.

Remove the pudding from the steamer and cool completely. Remove the paper or cheesecloth, prick the pudding with a skewer and pour a few tablespoons brandy over the top. Cover with fresh wax paper and retie with string. Store in a cool dry place until Christmas day.

On Christmas day reheat the pudding by steaming again for about at least a couple hours. Run a knife around the edge of the bowl and turn the pudding out onto a warm plate. For an authentic Christmas pudding experience, warm a ladle of brandy over the stove. Carry the ladle over to the pudding and have someone light the brandy with a long match. Slowly pour the flaming liquor over the top. When the flames die down, serve with cream or buttered rum or brandy.

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