You really can't beat a home-made Christmas Pudding and I have kept the tradition of making one every year for the past 8 years. Factory made puddings sold in shops don't come anywhere near a home-made pud, with it's luscious combination of vine fruits, nuts and citrus peels, laced with stout and rum then slowly steamed into a dark fragrant combination of intense flavours. If you find the thought of making your own Christmas Pudding a daunting task and you are put off by the 8 hours of steaming, I can only encourage you to give it a go. The steaming only requires your attention periodically to top up the water level and the end result is the best ever pud you and your family will have tasted, then like myself you will never go back to a shop bought Christmas pudding.
Traditional Christmas Pudding
110g shredded suet
110g white breadcrumbs
1 level tsp ground mixed spice
1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
a good pinch of ground cinnamon
225g soft dark brown sugar
25g mix candied peel
25g whole almonds, chopped
1 small cooking apple, cored and finely chopped (no need to peel)
the grated zest of 1/2 large navel orange
the grated zest of 1/2 large lemon
2 tbsp rum
50g self-raising flour, sifted
A 1.2 litre pudding basin, lightly greased, baking parchment, foil and string.
Begin the day before you want to steam the pudding. Take your largest, roomiest mixing bowl and start by putting in the suet and breadcrumbs, spices and sugar. Mix these ingredients very thoroughly together, then gradually mix in all the dried fruit, peel and nuts followed by the apple and the grated orange and lemon zests. Don't forget to tick everything off as you go to make sure nothing gets left out. Next in a smaller basin, measure out the rum and stout, then add the eggs and beat these thoroughly together. Next pour this over all the other ingredients and begin to mix thoroughly. It's now traditional to gather all the family round, especially the children, and invite everyone to have a really good stir and make a wish! The mixture should have a fairly sloppy consistency - that is, it should fall instantly from the spoon when this is tapped on the side of the bowl. If you think it needs a bit more liquid add a spot more stout. Cover the bowl and leave overnight.
Next day stir in the sifted flour quite thoroughly, then pack the mixture into the lightly greased basin, cover it with a double layer of baking parchment and a sheet of foil and tie it securely with string. It's also a good idea to tie a piece of string across the top to make a handle. Place the pudding in a steamer set over a saucepan filled with simmering water and steam the pudding for 8 hours. Do make sure you keep a regular eye on the water underneath and top it up with boiling water straight from the kettleabout halfway through the time. When the pudding is steamed, let it get quite cold, then remove the baking parchment and foil and replace them with some fresh ones, again making a string handle for easy manoeuvring. Now your Christmas pudding is ready for Christmas Day. Keep it in a cool place away from light. Under the bed in an unheated bedroom is an ideal place.
On Christmas Day steam your Christmas Pudding for 2 1/4 hours, checking on the water from time to time and maybe top it up a bit.