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Amelia Islander

A Traditional Christmas Pudding

Dec 08, 2014 01:40PM
I spent some time last summer with a new English friend named Rose Skelton. Not only did she train me in all ways English, like how to make a proper pot of tea, but she also cooked me a traditional cottage pie and introduced me to a British radio soap opera called “The Archers,” which we listened to every day while we were together. And when Rose talked about her traditional Christmas pudding, I knew I would have to put it on my own holiday menu this year. Oddly enough, I discovered that my sister, Laurie, has been making Christmas pudding for years, and I didn’t even know it! Her pudding is an Americanized version, however, using butter in place of the suet, and it’s not quite as complicated as Rose’s traditional pudding. Laurie’s recipe came from her husband’s family and she likes to serve it with hard sauce. To make things simpler, she uses the microwave to heat up the individual plates of pudding and sauce right before serving. But, for Rose, it’s all about keeping up with tradition. She even puts an English £2 coin in the pudding before baking. The recipient who gets the coin will be blessed with good luck. And everyone in the family, plus friends, must stir the pudding and make a wish before she sets it in the steamer. “On Christmas Eve, I was up all night steaming the pudding; I had to set my alarm often and go check on the water,” Rose laughs. “When I served it the next day, my friend, Charles, found the money. Luckily, no one broke a tooth!” The following recipe is my sister’s Americanized Christmas pudding. Rose’s traditional English Christmas pudding recipe is included below that. Which one will you make this year?

Laurie’s Christmas Pudding

Ingredients 1/4 Lb. suet or butter 1/2 C. brown sugar 1 Large egg 1 C. grated raw carrots 1/2 C. seedless raisins 1/2 C. currants 1 1/4 C. flour 1/2 Tsp. baking soda 1 Tsp. baking powder 1/2 Tsp. salt 1 Tbsp. warm water 1/2 Tsp. cinnamon 1/2 Tsp. nutmeg

Preparation With a large spoon, blend together the first three ingredients. When well mixed, add the carrots, raisins, and currants. Stir into the mixture the flour with the baking powder and salt. Put the one tbsp. of warm water in a cup and add the 1/2 tsp. baking soda. Stir that into the flour and carrot mixture. Add the spices and stir until all the ingredients blend together. Place pudding into greased mold, spreading it to corners. Seal. Stand up in enough water to reach just under the cover and steam for 1.5 hours. Remove the pudding from the water and cool. Bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from the mold and place on a platter. Decorate with sprigs of holly and serve with Hard Sauce.

Hard Sauce Ingredients 1/2 cup butter or margarine 1 cup brown sugar 4 tbsp. cream 1/2 tsp. lemon juice Chopped nutmeats (optional)

Preparation Cream together butter and sugar. Add cream, lemon, and nuts. Serve with Christmas pudding.

Rose’s Christmas Pudding (Adapted from Delia Smith)

Ingredients 4 Oz. shredded suet 2 Oz. self-rising flour 4 Oz. white breadcrumbs 1 Tsp. ground mixed spice 1/4 Tsp. freshly grated nutmeg Good pinch cinnamon 8 Oz. dark brown sugar 4 Oz. sultanas 4 Oz. raisins 10 Oz. currants 1 Oz. mixed candied peel chopped 1 Oz. almonds, skinned and chopped 1 Small apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped Grated zest of 1/2 large orange Grated zest of 1/2 large lemon 2 Tbsp. rum 2 1/2 Oz. barley wine 2 1/2 Oz. stout 2 Large eggs

Preparation Begin the day before you want to steam the pudding. In a large mixing bowl, put in the suet, sifted flour, breadcrumbs, spices, and sugar. Mix thoroughly, then add the dried fruit, mixed peel and nuts, followed by the apple, grated orange and lemon zests. In a smaller bowl, measure out the rum, barley wine, and stout, then add the eggs and beat these together thoroughly. Pour over the other ingredients and mix very thoroughly. It is now traditional to gather all the family around and invite everyone to have a good stir and make a wish! The mixture should have a sloppy consistency, not too thick. Cover the bowl and leave overnight. The next day pour the batter into a greased basin/mold, cover with a double piece of parchment paper, and tie with a string snugly.

Place the pudding in a steamer set over a saucepan of simmering water and steam the pudding for 8 hours. You will have to add more boiling water throughout the process. When the pudding is steamed, remove it from the heat. Remove the cover and replace it with a fresh one. Let the pudding cool overnight. Your pudding is ready for Christmas Day. Steam the pudding again, as before, for 2.5 hours. To serve, remove from the basin and turn it out onto a warmed plate, then decorate with holly. Warm a ladle of brandy over direct heat and light it. Then bring the brandy to the table and pour it over the pudding. Watch it flame to the cheers of your assembled guests! Serve with rum sauce or brandy butter.