One plus of all this snowy weather is more time to do lots of Christmas baking!
Yesterday afternoon I got my Christmas pudding made. I had planned on making it two weeks earlier, on 'Stir-Up Sunday' when you are traditionally supposed to make your pudding, but we just had too much other stuff on. The fruits will have benefited from those extra two weeks soaking in the alcohol anyway!
This recipe is a bit of a mish-mash of a couple of other recipes I have tried in the past. Last year was the first time I had tried making a wheat-free version (shown in the photo below) and I was delighted with how it turned out. There was no difference at all in taste or texture from a wheat-flour version.
I think it really is worth the effort of making your own pud (not that there is much effort or skill required at all). It's bigger than most shop-bought ones for a start, tastier and you can bask in the Domestic Godess-ey glow of satisfaction when you see it flaming on the Christmas table.
You will need:
250g mixed dried fruit
50g dried cranberries
150g prunes, chopped
200ml brandy, or alcohol of your choice (I used whisky this year and last, but brandy is more traditional)
100g Doves Farm Wheat-Free Self Raising Flour*
125g wheat-free breadcrumbs (about 4/5 slices of bread, blitzed in a blender)
150g brown sugar
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/2tsp ground cloves
1 tsp baking powder
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange
1 cooking apple, peeled and grated
3 beaten eggs
*If you are making this with wheat flour then use plain not SR
~Put the dried fruit, cranberries and prunes in a bowl, pour over your chosen alcohol, mix well, cover and leave to soak overnight (or a couple of weeks as I did!)
~Put the rest of the ingredients into a large bowl and mix together with a wooden spoon before adding your soaked fruits and any leftover liquid, then mix well again.
~Traditionally every member of the family is supposed to take a turn mixing the pudding, and according to Nigella you were supposed to mix from East to West in honour of the Wise Men!
~Once everything is well mixed, which really doesn't take long at all, tip the mixture into a greased 3 pint bowl or plastic pudding basin.
~Cover with greaseproof paper with a crease in it to let the mixture expand, tied with string. Or the lid if you have a proper pudding basin!
I've just realised that you can't see the crease here! It's just a fold in the middle really.
~Put the pudding in the top of a steamer and steam away gently for 5 hours (yes, really). I tend to make mine just before dinner and then let it simmer away until later in the evening.
~Let the pudding cool and then keep it somewhere safe until Christmas.
~On Christmas day it will need steamed again for 3 hours. To save on hob space I usually cook my potatoes in the bottom of the steamer for part of that time.
~Run a knife around the edge of the bowl before putting a plate over the bowl and turning it upside down and gently shake the pudding out.
~Heat a ladle full of brandy over the gas hob (or in a pan) and then light when it is warm enough.
~Quickly pour it over the pudding and take it to the table while everyone 'Ooohs' in wonder.
The flame is really hard to photograph but you get the idea!