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Pauline's Traditional Christmas Pudding

Christmas Customs
Pauline's Traditional Christmas Pudding Recipe Six Pint Mix for Gifts

By Pauline Weston Thomas for Fashion-Era.com

 

Pauline's Traditional Christmas Pudding Recipe - Six Pint Pudding Mix for Making Gifts

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Pauline's Six Pint Christmas Pudding Recipe Mix

You may be one of those people who read cookery books in bed and conjure up whole banquets in your mind.  You may have already enjoyed looking at the Christmas pudding recipes from Mrs Beeton and taken from my 1923 antiquarian cookery book of Family Cookery.  Some of you will have even tested those different Christmas pudding recipes on your family.  My personal recipe I use now and shown below, is one I have adapted from a recipe given to me by a friend years ago.  My Christmas pudding recipe makes 6 pints of Christmas pudding mixture and I know many of you will love this recipe because it's in imperial ounces.  It's also an explanatory recipe for beginner cooks or new makers of puddings.

"Six pints I hear you scream."

To be truthful, in the past I would make 2 puddings for myself, and then when I mentioned this fact to a relative, they would act peeved since they wanted one.  I got so fed up of having to remake more puddings, double up, or triple quantities that I devised my own 6 pint recipe.   Homemade puddings are great to take with you when you visit close friends or family.  The mix is big, so you will need a big mixing bowl, or a plastic washing up bowl kept just for food use.Traditional Christmas Pudding

With 6 pints of pudding mix I make
1 X 2 pint pudding using a rounded Pyrex basin
2 X 1 pint puddings using a rounded Pyrex basin
1 X 1/2 pint pudding using a tall ceramic basin
6 X 1/4 pint mini puddings (equivalent to 11/2 pints and using 1/4 pint metal pudding tins)

You can make any combination of sizes you wish.  My favourite is the tall half pint basin I use, which feeds 3 or 4 people an ample taster portion after a heavy Christmas dinner, or which can be split between two people.  The greedier the crowd, the larger the pudding you will need. Or, simply be firm with guests and opt to serve mini Chrimbo puds.  If you wish, you can make 24 mini Chrimbo puddings using sticky toffee pudding tins, old fashioned cups or ramekins.  Even simpler, you can make several rolls of the mixture and just slice rounds of whatever size you or your guests prefer.

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Alcohol in Christmas Puddings

Do you groan when you read recipes calling for specific alcohol?  Many recipes call for ale, but frankly I don't keep ale, stout or Guinness in my cupboards.  I find these days wine, champagne or juice is the tipple of many folk.  Even though I don't drink, I always have some customary Sherry, Port, Whisky, Brandy and Grand Marnier in the cupboard.  For cakes and pudding I improvise and use wine and ANY of these spirits to steep the fruits and other goodies.

If you are teetotal for any reason, whether religious or healthy self discipline, then milk is a great substitute for ale and other alcohol products in the puddings. 

Stir Up Sunday

Stir Up Sunday normally falls 5 Sundays before Christmas, so this is often the last Sunday of November.  So now you are reading this in December maybe and thinking "ooooooh, too late."

No such thing, it's never too late to make a Christmas pudding.  I have often made mine just a few days before Christmas, when sometimes there is a lull in activities.  Christmas memories like these live with us forever.

If you are not organised enough to make your puddings on Stir Up Sunday, then I think 'anytime' when you personally have the time in the run up to Christmas is fine.  As far as we are concerned the fresher the Christmas pudding, the more we like it. 

In 2012, Stir-Up-Sunday is on November 25, but this pudding is just as good made the week of Christmas.

Christmas Pudding Cooking Times

You still need to consider making your pudding mix over a 24 hour period or longer.   The weekend may be best, or cook the puddings at a time when you have an afternoon off from work.  First the fruits need soaking, then the mix below needs to stand - partly to allow the breadcrumbs to swell to help make a lighter pudding - and also because you must have a spare 6 hours to keep an eye over safe steaming.  If you don't have a steamer, then with extra care, you can use a saucepan, but the pudding must first be wrapped as instructed in the recipe below. For mini puddings you should use the steamer as the tins are too small for saucepan only cooking.  Or you may use a standard oven, provided you create a steam bath in a fish kettle, or use a lidded casserole or foiled over vessel. 

These easiest advance on all these methods is the modern plastic pudding bowl with close fitting lid.

Silver and pearl mistletoe Christmas ornament from Braybrook Silver.You may also wonder if it is worth the bother when your local supermarket sells luxury puddings.  Well I think the answer is yes. Like having a fresh Christmas tree because you love that Christmassy pine smell, making a pudding is part of keeping traditions going. Most importantly you can select organic or ethically sourced food produce if that is your preference. 

Cook's Perks - Top Tip - Road Test Your Pudding

The mini puddings are a great pre-Christmas treat.  We have road tested a few of my mini taster puddings I made earlier this week.  On one occasion we ignited some whisky on our pudding and it was as delicious as brandy flaming.

My husband said  - "That was a superior Christmas pudding." 

Now the way to this man's heart must still be through his stomach, for the following day I found a little gift on my Christmas tree to be opened then and there. I know you all want to know what it was. It was the most lovely pearl and silver mistletoe sprig tree ornament from Braybrook Silver and shown right. 

Pauline's Traditional Christmas Pudding Recipe of 6 Pints Mix

Pauline's Traditional Christmas Pudding Recipe of 6 Pints Mix

Method and Recipe - How to logically use the ingredients and make the Christmas Pudding mix

This recipe instruction is for enthusiastic beginners or for cooks who give food gifts at Christmas.

The full Christmas Pudding recipe check is at the bottom of this page.

With 6 pints of pudding mix you can make these pudding or your own combination
1 X 2 pint pudding using a rounded Pyrex basin
2 X 1 pint puddings using a rounded Pyrex basin
1 X 1/2 pint pudding using a tall ceramic basin
6 X 1/4 pint mini puddings (equivalent to 11/2 pints and using 1/4 pint metal pudding tins)

Stage 1
Weigh the dried fruit
20 oz currants
20 oz raisins
20 oz sultanas
4 oz best quality candied peel you cut yourself
4 oz apricots
2 oz dates

Tip - You'll need a 'large' bowl or container for 70 ounces of dried fruit.

A. Preparation of the dried fruits.

Clean and prepare your currants, raisins and sultanas by washing each batch in a clean bowl of hot water.  Drain for a minute or so using a sieve.

Place, first the currants, on a clean tea towel covered in 2 layers of kitchen roll paper. Roll the currants in the tea towel/paper.  Discard the mucky kitchen paper which will be covered in bits even if you bought pre-washed currants.  Roll the currants yet again in the tea towel alone. You will be amazed how many more picky bits of twig are removed and which makes eating any fruit dessert much more pleasant. 

This is faster and just as effective as picking over the currants individually. Repeat the process on the raisins and sultanas.  Generally the worst offenders are the currants.  Due to their smallness, the stalks often retract into the berry.

Next prepare your fruit soaking liquids.

Fruit Soak Fluids
½ cup of sherry (8 tablespoons)
½ cup of port (8 tablespoons)
½ cup of whisky or brandy (8 tablespoons)
Grating and Squeezing
3 lemons, use all the finely grated zest. Do not include the bitter white pith. Squeeze out the juice of the three lemons. Warming them in a microwave for 20 seconds helps release more juice.
1 orange, use all the finely grated zest plus the juice of the orange. 

B. Now SOAK the cleaned dried fruits in the alcohol, orange and lemon zest plus the citrus juices, for about 4-8 hours before mixing the puddings.
Give all the fruit and liquid ingredients a big stir.
Cover the bowl with cling film or a lid. 

Soaking the dried fruits in alcohol for a boozy Christmas pudding.Reminder Tip - Make sure you have a 'large' enough bowl for 70 ounces of the dried fruit.

Sometimes I just put all the fruit/alcohol/juices in a closed Tupperware style container like this shown right. Just turn it over a couple of times a day for a few days until the right moment comes for the next stage. Having a container lid enables you to turn the bowl upside down and stops evaporation of the alcohol.

You could start this soaking in the morning and make up the recipe in the evening, leaving the raw mix to marinate further overnight before 6 hrs of steaming. The soaking helps plump and hydrate the fruit and absorb the flavour of the alcohols.

C. Prepare your basins

Butter your selected basins well using one the following methods.  An easy way to do this, is to take cake liners from a packet of mixed 'Lakeland' cake non stick paper circles, or just cut a large circle. Then cut small wedges from it to make it fit in the basin.  Butter will help it shape to the basin.  Trim the excess paper away from the basin top edge.Butter either 4 x 1 pint pudding basins and 1 X 2 pint basin, or any other combination your prefer.

Butter your selected basins well using one of the following methods.
Line the base with a buttered circle of greaseproof paper and then an inner band of greaseproof paper which has been split every two inches almost to the base. Shape it to the basin with overlaps.

Or - an easy way to do this, is to take cake liners from a packet of mixed 'Lakeland' cake non stick paper circles, or just cut a large circle. Then cut small wedges from it to make it fit in the basin.  Take cake liners from a packet of mixed 'Lakeland' cake non stick paper circles, or just cut a large circle. Then cut small wedges from it to make it fit in the basin.  Butter will help it shape to the basin.  Trim the excess paper away from the basin top edge.Butter will help it shape to the basin.  Trim the excess paper away from the basin top edge.

Another method is to cut long greaseproof paper strips and lay them buttered one, by one, across the basin in an asterisk shape.

Once your basins are prepared you can begin the big stir.

Stage 2 - Approx 6 to 8 hours later

Grating and Chopping - Use a large bowl and prepare the following

8oz dark glace cherries halved
2 oz blanched almonds chopped
1 large raw carrot, finely grated - about 3 or 4 oz
1 large proper Bramley cooking apple, cored, peel left on and in small cubes. Do not grate the apple. Alternatively use 2 large Granny Smith eating apples.

5oz day old white breadcrumbs made from a quality loaf.

Make the breadcrumbs in a food processor using day old bread.
DO NOT USE packet coating breadcrumbs.

Mix all these ingredients with the pre-soaked fruits.

 

Stage 3

In a jug, mix with a fork all the remaining wet ingredients.
4 medium eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons milk (or ale or stout)
1 heaped tablespoon black treacle - dip the spoon in boiling water and dry it first to enable the treacle to slip more easily from the spoon.
Add this liquid mix into all the fruits.

Give it all a big stir again.

 

Stage 4

In a large separate bowl mix all the dry ingredients together
Measure your spices, flour, ground almonds, suet and salt mixing all the dry ingredients together.
 

8oz shredded suet
8oz dark muscovado or a one third molasses and two thirds white caster sugar mix
6oz self-raising flour
3oz ground almonds
1 rounded teaspoon mixed spice
1 rounded teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon powdered cloves
A pinch of salt.
Stir all these dry ingredients into the wet fruit mix. If your mix seems too sturdy add a drop more milk, alcohol or ale.

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Call the family to stir the pudding mix very well and ask them to make a wish.

 

Stage 5

Spoon your mix into your selected prepared pudding basins. Fill to within half an inch of the top of the pudding basin.

Each basin must be covered with a double layer of buttered, greaseproof paper which has a deep pleat in its middleNow cover them.  Each basin must be covered with a double layer of buttered, greaseproof paper which has a deep pleat in its middle. This pleat enables the greaseproof paper to expand if the pudding rise much during steaming. I generally twist and turn my paper cover forming a rim edge. This is best demonstrated, but you can simply use a string tie.  Over that I place some pleated aluminium foil and tie that on with some string. 

It is useful to make a string handle, but not essential.  Wearing thick rubber gloves will enable you to lift the hot puddings if needed. 

At this stage I usually leave my pudding overnight so that the flavours mature even more.  The following day I cook them.

Using Plastic Pudding Bowls & Lids

For faster pudding bowl preparation forget about greaseproof paper and use sealable lidded plastic pudding bowls. Simply butter the inside surfaces of the plastic pudding bowl and lid, then spoon in the mix to about half an inch from the top and place on the lid. Next either cook in a steamer or place in a lidded saucepan of boiling water with boiling water halfway up the sealed basin. When cooked store in the same plastic bowls used for cooking and reheat using the same bowl.

Steaming Method

The best way to cook the puddings is by steaming them in a proper steamer for 6 hours.  Some people steam their puddings for 7 or even 8 hours. I think 6 hours is ample time for any pudding of 2 pints or less, especially when they are left to cool in the pan in which they were cooked. If you decide to make 2 larger puddings at 3 pints then steam those bigger puddings for 8 hours.

Saucepan Method

Sealing the basin from water when boiling a Christmas puddding using a saucepan.For steaming any pudding in a saucepan without a top steamer, put an upturned saucer or plate inside a large saucepan. To protect your pudding from water seeping inside it, I like to add another layer of foil, but this time stand the covered pudding on a circle of foil and bring the foil up the basin sides as far as possible. Now sit 1 pudding on top of the upturned saucer.  A slice of lemon in the saucepan water will help prevent discoloration to your pan.  Pour boiling water into each pan to come halfway up the basin. Cover and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer for 6 hours, topping up with boiling water if necessary.  Top up with boiling kettle water regularly, so that the pan does not boil dry.

Another old fashioned method of cooking a pudding with a steamer, is to wrap the covered pudding in a clean, square white cloth. An old clean damask table napkin is very suitable for the purpose. Then tie the ends of the cloth and support the basin in the saucepan by threading either two long skewers or a wooden spoon through the tie end handle. Rest the crossed skewers or wooden spoon across the top of the saucepan, so that the basin hovers at the top of the hot water. Cover the pan and keep a close eye on the boiling water, to ensure the pan does not boil dry. 

For a Darker Pudding

For a darker pudding I always leave my Christmas puddings in the steamer, or saucepan for a further two hours without lifting off the saucepan lid. The pudding continues to cook as the water and saucepan cools down.

The photo right shows a pale mix where treacle was not used.  To get a dark colour that mix would need steaming for 8 hours.

Oven Steaming

Oven steamed Xmas pudding in a Pyrex casserole.It is possible to create a small steam bath in your oven if you are very careful. I sometimes make the mini Christmas puddings this way. The large roasting deep dish by Lakeland is a good choice and can easily be covered with tinfoil.  A chicken roaster tin, a large Pyrex casserole or fish kettle can also be used this way. The photo left shows a full size 2 pint Christmas pudding prepared for oven steaming in a casserole filled with 2 inches of boiling water.  Read more about oven steamed puddings here.

For the mini puddings: preheat the oven to 150C/gas 2.  Place the filled tins in a deep roasting tin or covered casserole. Next fill the vessel with boiling water until it comes halfway up the sides. Cover the casserole/tin with aluminium foil or a lid and bake mini puds for 4 hours, the full 2 pint pudding for 5 hours. 

Leave to cool in the oven or eat immediately!

N.B.Do not use plastic lidded bowls with the oven casserole method.

Pudding Removal and Storage

Traditional Xmas PuddingI like to remove the puddings from their basins when they are still just slightly warm. This makes the job much easier when wrapping with 2 layers of clean fresh greaseproof wrap. When the pudding is left in the basin to become totally cold, it is a less easy, or pleasant task to remove it even when the basin was well buttered. The cold greasy pudding wrappers may become more firmly stuck to the Christmas pudding and then the job gets fiddly and takes longer.

Do not omit wrapping in fresh greaseproof paper as puddings can go mouldy if the original damp greaseproof is left on them for more than a few days.

Looking after your Cooked Christmas Pudding

The following day assuming you have double greaseproof wrapped your pudding and when the puddings are quite cold, I wrap each pudding in a final layer of aluminium tin foil and then put them in a freezer quality polythene bag.  

Store the Christmas pudding in the fridge or a cold place.  Many of us today also have a garage fridge, and 6 well wrapped puddings can easily take up a shelf there. If you intend to keep the puddings for a long time then feed them with alcohol.  For me what really makes the pudding flavour is the muscovado sugar and zesty citrus lemon, whilst the texture is helped to stay light rather than stodgy by the mix of self raising flour, fresh white breadcrumbs and suet.

Christmas Puddings as Gifts

Cooked Christmas puddings for gifts can be titivated with coloured tissue or holly gift wrap and bows.

Top Pudding Tip - If they are special gifts make sure you add an instruction tag or label with reheating information.  As with all cooking and preparation you must do as fits your own personal time schedule.  I have never seen the gift of a home made Christmas pudding in a blue freezer bag straight from my refrigerator ever rejected by any friend or visitor calling on me! 

But you might like to add a correctly sized new Pyrex basin to the gift, especially if it is someone who does minimal cooking other than at festive times.  A pot of Brandy Butter or some of my home made ginger truffles could complete this home style gift.

To Reheat Your Christmas Pudding

Re-steam any pudding over 1 pint in size for a minimum of 11/2 hours preferably 2 hours.  35 minutes is sufficient for the mini puddings.

Microwaving puddings.

I am not keen on Christmas puddings being microwaved.  It can be done, but the results are not as good as re-steaming your pudding.  If you must do it you will improve the microwaving by adding 1 tablespoon of water to the surface of the Christmas pudding.  Make some holes in the Christmas pudding using a skewer and cover the pudding with Clingfilm (Gladwrap). Make a few holes in the film. 

Microwave on high for 2 minutes, rest for 2 minutes and then microwave 1 or 2 more minutes more according to your oven wattage.  Do not microwave the pudding for more than 5 minutes. The sugar in it will start to burn, the fruits will overcook as they are sugary and soon the pudding will get toughened.

For a funny story on this read the Microwave Christmas pudding story page at my husband's clean jokes site where you can find stories, urban myths funny pictures and jokes suitable for your maiden aunt or grandma.

To Serve Your Christmas Pudding

Simple - Decorate with holly and dust with icing/confectioner's powdered sugar. The pudding can be served with brandy butter, Grand Marnier butter or double cream.  Sweet white sauce flavoured with brandy is also very nice.

Crunchy - Toast some flaked almonds in a little butter in a pan and sprinkle over the pudding.  Dust with icing sugar.

Theatrical - But the final flourish to any Christmas pudding is the 2 or 3 tablespoons of warmed brandy poured over the pudding and ignited to burn off the alcohol.  First make sure your pudding is in a large serving dish so the alcohol can float around the Christmas pudding.   NEXT - dim the lights in anticipation of the flambé.

For successful brandy/alcohol ignition you must first use sufficient brandy and secondly warm your brandy lightly in a small saucepan to aid flambéing. But do not boil the brandy.  I have found 20 seconds in the microwave is an alternative and quick method. Since flaming a Christmas pudding can be a hazard, make sure the pudding is placed on an ample dish.  Anyone wearing hair spray or hair shine products should stay out of the way as this becomes a moving blue flame and hair spray does ignite almost as easily as the flambé.

Economy Tips

You may also use whisky just as successfully for flambé as brandy, but instead will have a distinctive warm whisky flavour. If you like Baileys you'll like whisky on your Christmas pudding.

The credit crunch means you may be economising and not adding to that drinks cupboard this year, making do with what it contains already.

If you are on an economy drive and have no grand Marnier, but have some basic drinks in the house, try adding the zest of an orange to a small jam jar of gin or vodka, leaving it for 2 or 3 days and then using that instead.  It is a thrifty solution.

Pouring whisky over raisins and leaving them in a jar for a week creates a dark rum type liquor you could also use.  The soaked raisins are delicious too on plain vanilla ice cream.

Non Alcoholic Citrus Squeeze

If you love citrus desserts, squeeze or skewer the juice of a lemon or an orange over the cooked pudding and have an extra citrus tang, but which is non alcoholic.  If you have sweet tooth add some icing sugar to the fresh citrus juice.
 

Christmas Pudding Store Cupboard Recipe Check

20 oz currants
20 oz raisins
20 oz sultanas
4 oz best quality candied peel you cut yourself
4 oz apricots
2 oz dates
½ cup of sherry (8 tablespoons)
½ cup of port (8 tablespoons)
½ cup of whisky or brandy (8 tablespoons)
Grating and Squeezing
3 lemons, zest and juice.
1 orange, zest plus juice

5oz day old white breadcrumbs from a quality loaf (not packet crumbs)
8oz dark glace cherries halved
2 oz blanched almonds chopped
1 large raw carrot, finely grated - about 3 or 4 oz
1 large proper Bramley cooking apple
4 eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons milk (or ale or stout)
1 heaped tablespoon black treacle

8oz shredded suet
8oz dark muscovado or molasses sugar
6oz self-raising flour
3oz ground almonds
1 rounded teaspoon mixed spice
1 rounded teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon powdered cloves
A pinch of salt.
 

Note
i. The dark muscovado sugar and the black treacle are important ingredients for flavour and colour.  You may also use Molasses sugar.  Molasses sugar can be regarded as having a taste of its own. So I recommend cutting the molasses flavour by using half white sugar with it in any recipe.

ii. Light vegetable Atora is fine, or you could use proper beef or kidney fat suet bought at a butchers and then grated by hand.  Many people used to sterile packed meats from supermarkets may find this latter task of grating the 'real' suet unpleasant.  Some foodies think it makes the most superior of puddings. But if you have gall bladder or digestive problems give the real suet a miss.

iii. If you wish, you may replace some of the currants with 4oz chopped  prunes and 4 oz chopped figs.

Stir Up Sunday

In 2012, Stir-Up-Sunday is on November 25, but this pudding is just as good made the week of Christmas.

Christmas Pudding Conclusion

This page has been about making a large Christmas pudding mix which will produce 6 pints of pudding mixture. The mixture can make any combination of pudding sizes such as 3 two pint puddings or 6 one pint puddings or 24 mini puddings.

Dust off your Christmas pudding recipe at anytime of the year.  You will never regret spending the money on the best ingredients.  Preparation is the key to your Christmas turning out properly and with recipes its always advisable to study the method carefully. 

Final tip, make your puddings when the family is around so they can stir up the bowl and make a wish for the new year. In 2010, Stir-Up-Sunday is on November 28, but this pudding is just as good made the week of Christmas.

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See more Traditional Christmas Food

See Topics Below for More Ideas on Christmas Traditions, Customs, and Recipes

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