Christmas pudding is like fruitcake—same candied fruit, (more) booze, and a limited number of fans (mainly U.K. residents and expats).
And, like fruitcake, someone must be eating it or it wouldn’t show up on store shelves.
However, that’s been changing and not only has the audience diminished, so have the places where you can buy it.
Since the Accidental Locavore’s mother and twin sister are both huge fans, I decided to give it a go.
It’s pretty easy, but you need plenty of time for it to age.
The longer the better and remember, the fruit mix needs to marinate for four days.
This makes about 4 medium bowls.
Christmas Pudding Recipe
Fruit Mixture (To be made 4 days ahead)
- 1 pound seedless raisins
- 1 pound sultana (golden) raisins
- 1/2 pound currants
- 1 cup citron (thinly sliced or chopped)
- 1 cup chopped candied peel
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon mace
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound finely ground beef suet
- 1 1/4 cups cognac
- 1 1/4 pounds fresh bread crumbs (about 1 loaf of Wonderbread)
- 1 cup very hot milk
- 1 cup sherry or port
- 12 large eggs, well beaten
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Butter for greasing the bowls
In a very large bowl, add the raisins, sultanas, currants, citron, peel, spices and suet. Toss to combine.
Add 1/4 cup cognac, cover tightly and refrigerate for 4 days.
Sprinkle the mix with 1/4 cup cognac each day.
In a medium bowl, soak the bread crumbs in milk and sherry (or port).
Add the beaten eggs, sugar and salt.
Pour into the fruit and mix thoroughly.
Put the pudding in buttered bowls or tins and fill them about 2/3 full. Cover with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit the bowl, then top with aluminum foil and tie it firmly.
Steam for 6-7 hours. A large roasting pan works well for this. If you want to do it in the oven, cover the roasting pan and bowls with aluminum foil and steam in a 275° oven.
Check occasionally and add more water as needed.
Uncover and bake in a 250°F. oven for 30 minutes.
Add a dash of cognac to each pudding, cover with parchment paper and foil and keep in a cool place. They will store for up to a year.
To use, steam again for 2-3 hours and unmold. If you’d like, add some gently heated cognac, ignite and bring to the table. Serve with hard sauce (softened, unsalted butter and confectioner’s sugar beaten together with a lot of brandy or cognac) and enjoy!
My verdict: Never a big fan, this could change my mind about Christmas pudding (which by the way has no resemblance to pudding, it’s just the British term for desserts). Even my husband who can’t stand the stuff actually liked it!
I would buy some deep inexpensive bowls to use for this. This time I used a set of three I bought (2.5 quarts and smaller) and an old large soup bowl, If you’re going to be aging the “pud,” just remember that the bowls will be out of service for a while. You’re also going to need some very large mixing bowls to hold the fruit mixture, breadcrumbs and eggs.
Because the fruit is acidic, it’s best to always have a piece of parchment (not waxed) paper covering the surface of the pudding. Then top with aluminum foil.
Generally, instead of trying to fit a giant bowl in my fridge for four days (no way that’s going to happen), if it’s cold enough, I put in on my screen porch.