So it’s Stir-up Sunday this weekend, the day when families traditionally make their Christmas puddings. This is a two-day kind of Christmas pudding recipe so I tend to start it on the Saturday then finish on Stir-up Sunday. Whenever you start this recipe, bear in mind that the finished pudding takes 5 hours to steam, so don’t start it too late in the day! This one is a vaguely orange and cranberry Christmas pudding, as I like the colour and flavour combo, but feel free to use whatever ingredients you fancy.
As with any recipe, this one is just a guide. I bought a mixed bag of large golden sultanas and dried cranberries as I like the different colours, then topped it up to 500g with whatever I had left in the cupboard (raisins and a few dried apricots) but just use what you have. The same with the booze – I like using Pedro Ximenez because it smells like Christmas to me, but use spiced rum or normal rum or whatever you have (substitute more orange juice or cranberry juice if you don’t like alcohol). You can even add candied peel if you must (you monster). The glacé cherries are optional, but it’s nice to see a little glistening bit of red (or you can even go mad and use the green and yellow ones) when you cut it open. As long as you don’t mess with the quantities too much you’ll be fine. Here goes, then:
You will need:
500 g dried fruit
1 heaped tbsp glacé cherries
1 large orange or 2 clementines/satsumas
100 ml black tea
100 ml Pedro Ximenez sherry
1 cinnamon stick, snapped in half
3 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp black treacle
1 Bramley apple, grated
100 g self raising flour (or rice flour for gluten free – thanks as always to the lovely Pippa)
100 g fresh white breadcrumbs (or ground almonds for gluten free)
150 g veggie suet
150 g dark muscovado sugar
25 g almonds or pistachio nuts, finely chopped
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
You will also need:
1 (3 pint/1.7 litre) lidded pudding basin or 2 smaller ones
Greaseproof paper or baking parchment
Step 1 – steeping the fruit
Weigh out the dried fruit, then have a good pick through; let it fall through your fingers and look out for any woody stems, which are unpleasant to crunch on. You can use any dried fruits (try to keep at least half of it sultanas or raisins), but if you’re using larger dried fruit like prunes or apricots, make sure they’re stoneless and snip them into small pieces. Place it all in a large mixing bowl (not metal).
Finely grate the orange/clementine, then juice it as well. Add the zest and juice to the fruit then brew up the tea (one tea bag is fine for that amount of water) and pour it over the fruit, along with the sherry. Add in the cherries and the cinnamon stick and stir it all up. Cover with cling film and leave it to steep overnight, or at least a few hours, stirring occasionally if you remember.
Step 2 – mixing the wet ingredients
The next day, then, take the steeped fruit and remove the cinnamon stick pieces. Add the eggs (give them a quick mix with a fork first), honey, treacle and grated apple (leave the peel on).
Step 3 – avengers assemble! (sorry)
Weigh out all the dry ingredients and combine them in a huge bowl. The muscovado sugar can be a bit lumpy so run it through your fingers and disperse any lumps.
Add the wet ingredients into the dry and give it a really good stir (get everyone to take a turn to stir and make a wish).
Step 4 – steaming the pudding
Butter your pudding basin(s) and spoon in the mixture. Put on the lid, then cover it in foil. If your basin doesn’t have a lid you’ll need to use buttered greaseproof paper, then foil. Tie around the lid tightly with string (if you’re clever, you can fashion a handle out of string – I’ve never worked out how to do it).
To steam it, either use a steamer, or just use a huge saucepan. Place an old saucer in the bottom so it’s not sitting on the bottom of the pan (this will also stop it burning if you inadvertently let it boil dry). Add boiling water about halfway up the basin and put the lid on the saucepan. Steam for 5 hours, making sure you go back every so often to top up the boiling water.
And that’s it, you’re done. Let it cool then store in a cool, dry place (don’t unwrap it!) for Christmas day when it will need to steam for about another 2.5 to 3 hours (don’t worry if it gets a bit longer, it won’t ruin it).
When it comes to flaming your pudding, carefully warm some vodka on a ladle over a low heat, then set it alight and pour over your pudding. Mind your eyebrows!
And that’s it, another Stir-up Sunday completed. After all that effort, you deserve a nice glass of wine and a sit down. Happy Sunday! x