11:30pm, Saturday 23rd November:So, yeah, hey everyone, I said I’d put this post up when I started the whole pudding thing, but I hadn’t counted on having lovely guests who’d make me drink a whole vat of wine.
Honestly, that’s what happened.
Anyway, so we started tonight and I’m a bit worried about the whole deal. The ingredients and their amounts were mentioned in the last post so we’ll assume you know what you need. Here’s a picture in case you need a visual reminder:
And here’s Mary’s original recipe:
The task for this evening is soaking the fruit in alcohol. I am myself right now quite soaked in alcohol, but even so, this was something I could manage. I took the sultanas, currants and raisins and soaked them in 200ml of rum. I am a little worried right now about just how much fruit I have:
All right, that’s not incredibly clear from that picture, but there is a huge amount of fruit here. And not only that, but it took me about half an hour of half-cut research before I worked out that I didn’t need to soak the dried peel. I press-ganged one of my lovely visitors into chopping up the peel:
I feel a bit bad now because we didn’t actually need to do this until tomorrow. In case you’re wondering what 160g of home-made candied peel looks like, it’s like this:
See you in the morning for the exciting [not exciting] next steps…
9:45, Sunday 24th November: And we’re off! Slowly. This is a big undertaking so I have enlisted some volunteers:
I am lucky to have these highly-qualified sous chefs in my family; they’re my nieces. So far we have turned the huge loaf of bread that you saw yesterday into breadcrumbs:
Yes, that is a terribly maintained kitchen in the background there. Stop judgin’.
My kitchen helpers have taken to the park (with the leftover bread crusts for the ducks) to recover from their exertions. Meanwhile I’ll be getting on with measuring out and chopping up the apples. Next stop: stirring.
Bit worried. These are my measured out ingredients:
And this is my mixing bowl, egg bowl included for scale:
Should’ve asked the others to pick up a bathtub while they were out.
10:50am, Sunday: OH MY STARS. I forgot the coins. I don’t have any oldskool sixpences so we’re going with pound coins. Nigella advises that the best way to clean the coins is overnight in CocaCola, but I don’t have overnight now so I’ll soak them in Coke till it’s time to go into the moulds and then boil them to make sure the germs are gone.
3:30pm, Sunday: My apologies, I’ve raced on ahead without coming back here and now I’ve got some catching up to do. I was right to worry about the huge amount of ingredients versus the normal size of my mixing bowl – I had to split the mixture in half to be able to get it mixed at all. Because it’s traditional to have a wish when stirring the Christmas pudding, we got everyone (at the time) in the house to have a go:
Not one of them would let slip what the wishes were, so here’s hoping…
I don’t think it really matters what order you mix this all together but I found it a bit easier to mix dry ingredients together first (flour, suet, breadcrumbs, spice, sugar) then the fruit and peel then last of all the eggs. Here’s what the mixture looks like in the end:
In a victory for Science and my brother’s grasp on arithmatic, here’s all that was left after I’d packed the mixture into 4 pints’ worth of pudding moulds:
Which is not to say that cramming it all into the moulds was as easy as all that. I was determined, if I was making a proper old-fashioned Christmas Pudding to have it in the proper shape. I’ve seen cards and earrings and fairy lights and jumper motifs all in the shape of a perfectly round pudding, but I’ve never laid eyes on a pudding that was actually round. To help me achieve this, I had to get hold of one of these sinister looking things:
So after remembering to grease the insides (I used a baking spray that I’ve used for everything else on this blog – it hasn’t failed me yet but still I worry…), you cram as much mixture as you can into the two hemispheres then smoosh them together and clip into the frame:
Remember to add your coins if you’re using them. I forgot for this one big pudding – what a banana I am – but remembered for the two smaller ones. Then wrap your filled moulds twice with tin foil:
And it’s time to commence the steaming. We’ll need to steam them for six hours, so I expect to finish at around 7pm.
I’d like to give you the definitive best way to steam a pudding but my solution is very much improvised: the puddings are on a trivet or in the pierced section of a double boiler, and then because they poke past the top of the pan, the top is wrapped over twice with foil. Apart from this one, where the lid sort of fits but I’ve had to jam a bit of foil round, just to be sure:
A moment of quiet reflection, please, for my late, not-at-all lamented electric steamer, who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of Christmas Pudding:
Goodbye, steamer, I loathed your styling, the way your timer could only be set in increments of five minutes and your whiny beep. The kitchen will not see your like again.
We’ve been steaming for about two and a half hours as I write. It’s really important that you keep checking to see that the water’s topped up, so I’ve been running around with kettles. Do you think I should be worried that the bottom of one of the foil packages looks like this?
I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about, right? Meanwhile every room downstairs is as humid as the Borneo rain forest, and all the windows look like this:
Sunday, 8.30pm: So the puddings stopped steaming at about 7:20, I let them cool down, we’ve had a bit of dinner, and what have we found? I mean, apart from the fact that if our windows are anything to go by, Tina Turner was probably inspired by cooking Christmas Pudding and that there is water dripping off our ceiling.
Here are three wrapped, steamed, puddings. That one in the middle looks a bit dodgy. Perhaps keep an eye out for that?
the first one comes out of the mould okay and looks a bit like a Christmas pudding.
The second one is if anything more convincing as a pudding, if a bit lopsided. It’s time to tackle the round pudding…
What in God’s name is this? It looks like a toddler SMASH robot (ask your parents) who’s taken it too far with the nutella sandwiches. A bit of scraping away with a palette knife and gingerly lifting the top half of the metal ball reveals this:
Which finally, half an hour later, can be persuaded into a bowl like so:
Hey! Not too bad! It looks a bit shabby around the equator, but don’t we all? All that’s left now is to wrap them up again and forget about them until Christmas. I’m really pleased. I’d heard about sticking to the moulds, I’d heard about not cooking properly, but these (for real) look like Christmas Puddings, and the upside of the SMASH robot disaster above is that we got to taste a bit too, and if you like Christmas pudding, you’ll like this. In fact, you might even like it more than normal.
The plastic pudding mould lids seem to be a bit warped by their long hours over steam, so as I bought these in a pack of four I’m going to put the two smaller puddings back into the two clean moulds. I’ll wrap the round pudding in greaseproof and tin foil, and that should do us. One of these three puddings goes to the family that helped me out today, the round one is for our Christmas dinner, so what should I do with the third? Suggestions welcomed.