Christmas Pudding (previously called 'Plum Pudding')
People have different recipes, which many will have learned from their mothers or mothers-in-law. Here's just one example:
450 g. raisins and sultanas
50 g. candied peel, chopped
100 g. walnuts or almonds, chopped
Grated rind of an orange
100 g. plain flour
225 g. fresh breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon of mixed sweet spices
275g. finely shredded suet
225 g. soft brown sugar
4 large eggs, beaten
1/2 wine glass of brandy
... and/or 150 ml. strong dark beer (optional)
1 pinch of salt
Photograph (c)2008 Helen Macbeth
Mix all the dry ingredients together; add the beaten eggs, brandy and/or beer. This is the point where the whole family should take a stir of the mixture (as I recall it from my childhood, this should be in October, but a more recent confusion of words has caused the idea that it should be on "Stir Up Sunday" early in Advent - a confusion which apparently arises from the collect for that Sunday which starts with the words, "Stir up, Oh Lord ...... ").
Leave this mixture over night, and on the next day divide the mixture between two well-greased pudding basins. Top these basins with greaseproof paper and wrap each in a pudding cloth, and tie securely. Put the pudding basins in a saucepan of boiling water and steam for 6 hours, regularly ensuring that the water has not boiled away. Store the basins somewhere cool until Christmas. An October stirring and boiling is preferable as then the puddings are left to mature for at least 2 months.
On Christmas Day take out one or two basins (as needed by number of family for the meal) and steam each still in its cloth for at least 2 more hours. Turn it out upside down on to a warmed plate; perhaps decorate it with a piece of holly, and keep it very warm. Just before serving, very slightly warm a little brandy, pour this over the pudding and light it, so that the pudding is brought into the dining room flaming with a blue flame. Serve very hot with brandy butter (see below), brandy cream (cream mixed with a little brandy and if wanted sugar) or plain fresh cream.
Recipe for Brandy Butter:
(contributed by Paul Bizzell from his mother's notebook, believed to be handed down from her mother.)
Hard Sauce (Brandy Butter) for Plum Pudding:
2 tablespoons of butter (unsalted)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
nutmeg grated (to taste)
1 tablespoon of caster sugar
2 teaspoonfuls brandy (this quantity can be increased)
1/2 tablespoonful ground almonds (optional and an unusual option)
Put butter in a bowl and beat to a cream. Add sugar, beat the mixture till frothy.
Add brandy (and almonds if required) and beat again until thoroughly mixed
Pile mixture into a glass dish, shape top with underneath of a spoon as you would icing on a cake. Dust lightly with nutmeg. Put in fridge to harden