I have to say in some ways I am very traditional. I love holiday traditional the most; if I could make my entire house look like a Victorian Christmas right out of a Dickens novel I would. Unfortunately, candles on tress are a fire hazard and my mom hates the smell of mulled wine, so I have to go with small steps. This year it was Christmas pudding. Christmas pudding, also known as plum pudding, is a traditional British steamed cake very much like a fruit cake. In a Christmas Carol, when they take out the mound like cake and stick holly in it; that is this.
Firstly I needed a recipe, and I wanted a very uncomplicated one, so I actually combined a few. The basic recipe is:
500 grams of dried fruit (I used apricots, cranberries, raisins, and currents. Chop the large fruit into bits)
A few tablespoons of candied orange peel
2 T whiskey (or brandy or what have you)
125 g. flour
125 g. sugar
150 g. fresh breadcrumbs (I chopped stale bread and wizzed it in the blender)
Handful chopped pecans
150 ml milk
2 tsp spice (cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice or whatever you like)
125 g. shredded shortening (freeze a block of vegetable shortening and then grate)
This recipe is super customizable. Add whatever fruit you want; add a chopped fresh apple even. Add orange zest and juice, leave out the spice etc. I honestly do not think you can screw this up.
To make it simply add all the ingredients together. I recommend the fruit and flour first and then the wet ingredients, but it doesn’t matter.
When combined, add to a pudding mold that had been greased with butter and sprinkled in sugar. I do not have a pudding mold so instead I used a very steep sided metal mixing bowl.
Then, take a piece of parchment paper cut just an inch bigger than the shape of the bowl opening and place on top. Then, take a piece of aluminum foil and crimp it around. You can also make a fold in the foil in case the pudding needs to expand. Then, tie a piece of string around it to hold it call in place. You can also make a little handle with string to make it easier to remove from the steamer.
How to steam:
This pudding needs to be steamed, not baked. To do this you can either use a proper steamer, a pot of water with a few inches of water and an upside down saucer to keep the bowl from touching the pot bottom or you can use a spaghetti pot.
A spaghetti pot is simply a put with an attached and removable strainer. So, I put the bowl in the strainer part, Filled up the pot with water until it reaches half-way up the bowl and set onto a simmer for about three hours with the lid on. This way you do not have to worry about topping up the water because the pot had like 10 cups of water in it at this point.
When done; I removed and replaced the paper, foil, and string, so no extra water would be sitting with the pudding until it was ready to eat.
Do this at least a week ahead of time!
Traditionally a Christmas pudding can be made up to a year in advance. I recommend a week or so (I did 10 days) to give the flavors time to combined.
When the day comes to eat your pudding, simply re-steam for another hour so it can be fully cooked and warm. Let cool for a few minutes, and then upturn onto a plate. Top with powdered sugar.
This is a delicious cake. It’s like a fruit cake but spongier and light. My father especially loved it and I can see making it again!