Traditional Christmas Pudding
This recipe is based on Margaret Fulton's rich Christmas pudding in the Margaret Fulton Cookbook. You will need to begin this recipe a day ahead.
If you're not partial to plum pudding then spare a thought for those who had to partake of its earliest incarnation, plum porridge. Essentially a savoury oatmeal meat broth, thickened with breadcrumbs, flavoured with spices and sweetened with prunes (dried plums). These became so popular, that soon any dried fruit became known as plums, hence the plum pudding which doesn't contain any plums. It assumed the position of Christmas pudding during Victorian times as we know it today, retaining only the suet of its savoury predecessor.
Much tradition and folklore is attached to the Christmas pudding. Traditionally each member of the family takes a turn stirring the mixture in a clockwise direction, making a secret wish as they go. Many people also bake lucky treats into their puddings. Often they're silver coins, but in some antique shops you may come across special silver charms that were reserved for this purpose, their different shapes indicating the fortune of the finder.
The pudding was usually made up to a year ahead and left to mature, and then heated up on Christmas Day and brought to the table flaming with warm brandy and decorated with holly. Custard and ice-cream are winning accompaniments, but it can also be served with cream or brandy butter.
250 gm each raisins, sultanas and currants
100 gm candied orange, finely chopped
200 ml rum or brandy
250 gm butter, plus extra for greasing
275 gm firmly packed brown sugar (1¼ cups)
1 orange and 1 lemon, finely grated rind only
4 eggs, lightly whisked
150 gm plain flour (1 cup)
½ tsp each salt, mixed spice, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and bicarbonate of soda
60 gm almond meal (½ cup)
140 gm fresh breadcrumbs (2 cups)
- Combine dried fruit and candied orange in a bowl, scatter with rum or brandy, cover and stand overnight.
- Using an electric mixer, beat together butter, sugar and rinds until pale and fluffy, then slowly beat in egg. Sieve together flour, salt, spices and bi-carb soda. Add to mixture in batches, alternating with soaked fruit mixture and almond meal. Stir through breadcrumbs.
- Brush a 1.8 litre-capacity pudding bowl with butter, line the base with a circle of baking paper and dust with flour. Pour pudding mixture into bowl and top with another circle of baking paper. Cover with two layers of foil and tie with string.
- Place pudding into a large saucepan with a wire rack or tea towel lining the base. Fill with enough water to come halfway up the side of the bowl. Cover and simmer for 6 hours, topping up water when necessary. Pudding may be made ahead and cooled in bowl. Reheat in a large saucepan of simmering water for 2½ hours. Custard and ice-cream are winning accompaniments, but it can also be served with cream or brandy butter.
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