Garden Diary

Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Christmas Pudding

is waiting in the refrigerator, developing its flavors and asking for nothing more, as it prepares itself to be the piece de resistance of our dinner tomorrow, than a few drops of brandy now and again to refresh itself.

I had hoped to have the pudding ready for Christmas day itself, but it took weeks to track down some suet, my local butcher being of no help to me at all, and once I had finally found it, I didn't have the time prior to Christmas to spend at home while it steamed away.

Finally on Wednesday this week I did get that chance, and so while the pudding will be a bit young, I did reserve enough suet to make next year's pudding, and perhaps even enough to make a nice Spotted Dog for Carnival.

The pudding recipe I used is from Grossman and Thomas' Lobscouse & Spotted Dog, a link to which can be found on the right. The recipe follows below.

1 Cup flour
1 Cup sultanas
2 Cups soft, fresh bread crumbs
Zest of 1/2 lemon, coarsely chopped
1/2 Cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 cup candied orange peel, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 Cup candied citron, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 Cup slivered almonds
1/2 teaspoon mace
1/4 pound suet, finely grated
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 Cup brandy, plus 1/4 Cup for flaming (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 Cup raisins
1 Cup dried currants

In a large bowl, combine the flour, bread crumbs, sugar, salt and spices. Stir in the fruits and nuts (the flour and bread crumbs will coat the fruits and prevent them from sticking together). Mix in the suet, then add the eggs and 1/2 cup of the brandy. Work the mixture thoroughly with your hands.

Scrape the batter in a greased 6-Cup pudding basin (I used a small stainless steel bowl). Tie a well-floured cloth (cheese cloth works for this), allowing a little room for expansion. Place the pudding in a pot of boiling water, cover, and steam for 5 hours or longer. (Explanation: I put a small ceramic plate, face down, on the bottom of the pot, to raise the pudding basin, i.e, the steel bowl, over the bottom of the pot to keep it from burning. You don’t cover the pudding basin...have the water 1/2 to 3/4 up the side of cover the pot, to keep in the steam.) You will almost certainly need to add more boiling water as it cooks. (Hint: Keep a tea kettle full and simmering along on another burner so you have the water to add to the steam pot.)

Take the pudding out of the water and let it cool. Remove the cloth and pour in the remaining 1/4 Cup of brandy. Cover tightly and store in a cool place for 3 weeks or longer.

To prepare for serving, uncover the pudding, tie it up again in a floured cloth, and steam it for at least 2 hours. Remove it from the pot, untie the cloth, and unmold onto a serving dish.

Decorate with sprigs of holly, and serve flaming as follows: Warm 1/4 Cup of brandy in a small sauce pan, pour it over the pudding, set it alight, and serve it forth accompanied by Hard Sauce.

Serves 6 to 12.