Every year, I dream of creating a perfect Christmas, with boughs of pine hanging from the banister and mistletoe in every doorway. Most years, though, I am happy that we were able to unearth all of the ornaments from the garage. We haven’t put up Christmas lights outside in years.
This year I have given in the exceptionally early Christmas marketing and have started planning already. While it is too early to be putting up Christmas lights (wait at least another week, people!), it is certainly time to think about making a Christmas dessert. Last year, I roasted a goose. Everyone looked at it with trepidation and it wasn’t particularly noteworthy in flavor. This year I am going for a ringer: Christmas pudding. With fire!
I know it is going to taste good because I made one to store and a mini one to test. For those of you who haven’t read a lot of Dickens, Christmas pudding is a soft, boozy mass of dried fruit and sweet batter. It is made in advanced and soaked in brandy regularly leading up to Christmas Day. Prior to serving, it is gilded with even more brandy and then lit on fire
It is really good. It is beautiful and moist and reminds me of a warm cookie. It is comforting and familiar although I have never eaten if before. What more do you want this holiday season?
The dried fruit will not be cheap but I find that it makes a very good mid-afternoon snack. And the holidays are about splurging, indulging, sharing. The most difficult part is steaming the pudding. The batter comes to together fairly quickly. You then push it into a buttered pudding basin (I used a regular Pyrex glass bowl of 1.5 liters).
The top is covered carefully with layers of buttered parchment paper and foil. I have attached a really great Youtube which goes over it in detail. I don’t know who this woman is but I like her a whole lot.
Then you need to find a really big pot. I had to use my 9 quart cast iron in order to fit the bowl inside. Since you are steaming the pudding, you need to be able to fit the bowl inside of the pot and close the lid. The bowl will be resting on top of a small plate to keep the bowl from being in contact with the bottom of the pot and burning. Also, you need to be able to add more water to the pot if it seems like the levels have decreased below half the height of the bowl. So you need more room for that.
I would suggest testing these out before you fill the bowl with pudding like I did. The bowl is quite heavy and hard to remove from some of the more snug pots. Then get all your ingredients laid out. This is a lazy Sunday project so go shopping now and you will be all ready.
The pudding was very successful. I think everyone liked it. I served it with eggnog poured onto rather than a brandied butter. Check out the pictures below!
1 c Crisco
1/2 c raisins
1/2 c dried cranberries
1/2 c dried figs, chopped
1/3 c dried apricots, chopped
2/3 c brandy or black tea
1 apple, grated
1 orange, juiced and zested
3/4 c brown sugar
1 c breadcrumbs
2/3 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder, heaping
1/8 pinch of salt
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
Take Crisco and place in freezer. This will allow it to harder slightly and replicate the texture of suet, which you could use instead.
Slice and collect all dried fruits in a large bowl. Cover with brandy or black tea (I like a half and half mixture). Stir and allow to plump up overnight or at least 4 hours.
Locate a 1.5 litre bowl. Butter it thoroughly and set aside.
Take Crisco from freezer and grate. It will be a messy process. Try not to cut yourself! Return grated Crisco to the freezer.
Mix apple, orange juice, eggs, sugar, breadcrumbs, flour, and spices. Stir in soaked fruit, drained, and frozen Crisco. Press the mixture into the buttered bowl.
Cut out 2 circles of parchment paper and one of aluminum foil, approximately 2 inches more in diameter than your bowl. Pleat each one like a fan, see videos, and set aside. Grease the first of the parchment circles. Place on top of the bowl, pressing around the edges to seal, grease side down. Place the second parchment circle on top, pressing to seal. Lastly, place the foil circle on top. Press down around the lip of the bowl. Taking a piece of kitchen twine, tie the bowl shut tightly.
Steam for 3 1/2 hours, checking water levels occasionally. If you are unsure if the pudding is cooked, unwrap slightly and push the pudding with your finger. It will spring back when properly cooked.
Once cooked, allow to cool and remove foil and parchment circle. Baste with brandy. Cover with plastic wrap, still in the bowl, and store in a cool, dark place under Christmas, occasionally basting with more brandy.
Christmas Day, steam pudding for an additional 3 1/2 hours. Turn out onto serving dish. Heat brandy in a saucepan. Make a small well in the top of the pudding. Ladle in hot brandy and light. So pretty!