This is another story of how I already had Ernest Adams Christmas Puddings up in the pantry, but then decided to make my own.
I recall a time, while living in Timaru, that my Grandad and I made the Christmas Pudding. My most vivid memory is having the pudding wrapped in muslin and taking it out to the garage to hang.
I was too young (probably about 11 or 12) to remember about the flavours and textures, but any time spent with my Grandad was quality time, and I have no doubt the recipe used (or remembered) was a good one. I know we used to always have money in it.
Another memory I have was spending a Christmas meal at my Aunty’s place in Stokes Valley. There was a long trestle table set up in the car port and we were all seated around a very long table waiting for the Christmas Pudding. Again there was money to be found.
I didn’t do that, though Nigella certainly encouraged it.
Of course I can’t actually show you what the pudding looks like on the inside. Right now they are covered in tin foil sitting in the bottom drawer in the spare bedroom.
I had been meaning to make the pudding a week before but Nigella was pretty adamant that a particular brand of Sherry be used. I couldn’t find it on my travels. I looked online and decided that at $37 plus shipping for 375ml Brandy would do just fine.
The dried fruit soaked from Monday evening until I made these on the Saturday morning.
I took one of the unloved Granny Smith apples from work on the Friday and that’s my Merry Christmas from work. They would have been left until someone threw them away. Work provides fresh fruit each week which is delivered on a Monday. So anything left on a Friday is pretty much destined for the bin. I did work a favour, one less piece of fruit wasted
Nigella said to use a plastic basin with a lid. Mum had a plastic basin, but no lid. I decided that I had no choice but to use the old fashioned (and much loved) metal steamers that I had. I put plenty of butter on them so I hope they’ve cooked up correctly.
They smelt divine while they were steaming, but I have to admit the sounds of them clanking away on bottom and sides of the pots while the water boiled was doing my head in. It was similar (to my imagine) of water torture.
In the instructions, Nigella recommends 3 hours steaming when making the puddings in two basins. The little pudding looked good, but the big one still seemed quite wet on the top. So just when I’d breathed a sigh of relief having taken these out of the boiling water, I returned the big one for an extra 40 minutes.
On Christmas day I’ll put the big on in the crock pot for the remaining 3 hour. The crock pot has been what I’ve used over the years to steam the Ernest Adams puddings. I’m sure it will do the job just as well for these traditional puddings.
The small one will go to Dad and Ruth. I hope they taste good, and I hope no one will be disappointed not to find a coin. Honestly I’d be more worried about chomping down on one and breaking a tooth, and since I’m not the only one in my family suffering from fillings I’m sure my siblings will appreciate the omission.
Here’s Nigella’s Recipe, word for word for:
- 150 gram(s) currants
- 150 gram(s) sultanas
- 150 gram(s) prunes (scissored into pieces)
- 175 ml sherry (pedro ximenez)
- 100 gram(s) plain flour
- 125 gram(s) white breadcrumbs
- 150 gram(s) suet
- 150 gram(s) dark muscovado sugar
- 1 teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon
- ¼ ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon(s) baking powder
- 1 lemon(s) (zest and juice)
- 3 medium egg(s)
- 1 medium cooking apple(s) (peeled and grated)
- 2 tablespoon(s) honey
- 125 ml vodka
- Although I stipulate a capacious 1.7 litre/3 pint basin, and cannot extol the utter gloriousness of this pud too much, I know that you’re unlikely to get through most of it, even half of it, at one sitting. But I like the grand, pride instilling size of this, plus it’s wonderful on following days, microwaved in portions after or between meals, with leftover Eggnog Cream, or fried in butter and eaten with vanilla ice cream for completely off-the-chart, midnight-munchy feasts. But it wouldn’t be out of the question – and it would certainly be in the spirit of the season – to make up the entire quantity of mixture, and share between smaller basins – a 2 pint one for you, a 1 pint one to give away. Three hours’ steaming both first and second time around should do it; just keep the one pudding for yourself, and give the other to a friend, after it’s had its first steaming, and is cool, with the steaming instructions for Christmas Day.
- Put the currants, sultanas and scissored prunes into a bowl with the Pedro Ximénez, swill the bowl a bit, then cover with cling film and leave to steep overnight or for up to 1 week.
- When the fruits have had their steeping time, put a large pan of water on to boil, or heat some water in a conventional steamer, and butter your heatproof plastic pudding basin (or basins), remembering to grease the lid, too.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all the remaining pudding ingredients, either in the traditional manner or just any old how; your chosen method of stirring, and who does it, probably won’t affect the outcome of your wishes or your Christmas.
- Add the steeped fruits, scraping in every last drop of liquor with a rubber spatula, and mix to combine thoroughly, then fold in cola-cleaned coins or heirloom charms. If you are at all frightened about choking-induced fatalities at the table, do leave out the hardware.
- Scrape and press the mixture into the prepared pudding basin, squish it down and put on the lid. Then wrap with a layer of foil (probably not necessary, but I do it as I once had a lid-popping and water-entering experience when steaming a pudding) so that the basin is watertight, then either put the basin in the pan of boiling water (to come halfway up the basin) or in the top of a lidded steamer (this size of basin happens to fit perfectly in the top of my all-purpose pot) and steam for 5 hours, checking every now and again that the water hasn’t bubbled away.
- When it’s had its 5 hours, remove gingerly (you don’t want to burn yourself) and, when manageable, unwrap the foil, and put the pudding in its basin somewhere out of the way in the kitchen or, if you’re lucky enough, a larder, until Christmas Day.
- On the big day, rewrap the pudding (still in its basin) in foil and steam again, this time for 3 hours. Eight hours combined cooking time might seem a faff, but it’s not as if you need to do anything to it in that time.
- To serve, remove from the pan or steamer, take off the lid, put a plate on top, turn it upside down and give the plastic basin a little squeeze to help unmould the pudding. Then remove the basin – and voilà, the Massively Matriarchal Mono Mammary is revealed. (Did I forget to mention the Freudian lure of the pudding beyond its pagan and Christian heritage?)
- Put the sprig of holly on top of the dark, mutely gleaming pudding, then heat the vodka in a small pan (I use my diddy copper butter-melting pan) and the minute it’s hot, but before it boils – you don’t want the alcohol to burn off before you attempt to flambé it – turn off the heat, strike a match, stand back and light the pan of vodka, then pour the flaming vodka over the pudding and take it as fast as you safely can to your guests. If it feels less dangerous to you (I am a liability and you might well be wiser not to follow my devil-may-care instructions), pour the hot vodka over the pudding and then light the pudding. In either case, don’t worry if the holly catches alight; I have never known it to be anything but singed.
- Serve with the Eggnog Cream, which you can easily make – it’s the work of undemanding moments – while the pudding’s steaming.
MAKE AHEAD TIP:
Make the Christmas pudding up to 6 weeks ahead. Keep in a cool, dark place, then proceed as recipe on Christmas Day.
FREEZE AHEAD TIP:
Make and freeze the Christmas pudding for up to 1 year ahead. Thaw overnight at room temperature and proceed as recipe on Christmas Day.
Mum will be making Brandy sauce for her slice, I’ll make custard for the rest of us. Though there’s probably more people that wont have Christmas Pudding than those that do. For all that, I don’t expect there will be left-overs, unless of course it’s no good, in which case it’ll be tossed out.
But really, how could this be no good?