I love Christmas Pudding, and I can’t recall a Christmas as a child where it wasn’t a big feature in our house during the festive season. My Nana, my Mam’s mother, used to make puddings for all the family. She used the old traditional cloth method . These were the darkest, richest, most aromatic, moist puddings I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. I remember these big round , heavy cloths hanging from Nana & Granddad’s kitchen ceiling for what seemed like months, though was probably weeks. How that ceiling never caved in is beyond me! I recall as Nana made the puddings, being summoned to the table where she’d be mixing away and she would tell me that it was almost ready to go in the cloth, so it was time to make a wish. And so I would take the wooden spoon and do my best to stir this thick, rich dark mix that smelled so good and wish , of course, that Santa would leave whatever toys I asked for on Christmas Eve.
As I prepared the pudding mix yesterday, I gathered my own children and got them to stir the mix and make a wish, and while the girls were keeping there wishes secret, Jack declared, ‘I’ll know on Christmas Day if mine comes true’. I had to smile to myself. The magic of Christmas will always be alive and well as long as traditions are passed on through generations.
Unfortunately, I don’t think my Nana ever wrote her pudding recipe down and when she eventually stopped making the puddings, she didn’t pass on the recipe, so when my Mam took over making them it was on to a pudding bowl and a recipe on a stork booklet which I still have.
Her Christmas Pudding, although very different from her mother’s, was every bit as nice and she too got us to stir the mix and make a wish………..
I have adapted my Mother’s recipe slightly to suit us and I’m sure when the time comes my children will probably do the same.
85g Self Raising Flour
½ teaspoon Mixed Spice
½ teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
½ teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
175g Dark Brown Sugar*
75g Apricots, dried, chopped
50g Dates, chopped
65g Glacé Cherries, halved
50g Chopped Almonds
25g Chopped Hazelnuts
Finely grated rind of 1 orange and 1 lemon
110gButter, melted and cooled a little
2 Large Eggs
2 Tbsp brandy, rum or whiskey
135ml Irish Stout
- Sieve flour and spices into a large bowl.
- Add the breadcrumbs, sugar, prepared fruit, nuts, orange and lemon rind, then mix thoroughly.
- Make a well in the centre, then pour in the melted butter and beaten egg mixture. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon, don’t forget to make your wishes!
- Cover and leave the mix to stand overnight, it will be slack in the beginning but will thicken as it stands.
- Grease a 2 pint pudding bowl.
Cut a large circle of parchment paper for the top and grease well. Make a pleat in the paper. Cut a large circle of foil for the bowl and make a pleat in that also.
Uncover the mixture and stir well. Place the mixture into the prepared bowl.
Cover tightly with the parchment paper and tie down securely under the rim of the bowl.
Cover with the foil and tie down again. Put a loop of string over the top to facilitate removing the pudding when cooked.
Place the pudding in a steamer two thirds full of boiling water and cover with a tight fitting lid or place an upturned saucer in a saucepan. Place the pudding on top and pour in boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the bowl. Cover with a tight fitting lid and steam or boil for 6 hours.
Keep the pressure of steam up all the time and keep topping up with boiling water.
When the pudding is ready, remove carefully from the saucepan or steamer. Allow to cool completely.
When cold remove damp papers and re cover with fresh parchment paper, not greased and store in a cool dry place.
When you are ready to have your pudding, recover with greased parchment as before and steam for another two hours. Then serve with your preferred accompaniment and enjoy!
*I choose to use coconut sugar in my pudding for reasons which I have discussed here before.