Crack­ing Christmas cake and per­fect puds

Tra­di­tion has it that Christmas cakes and pud­dings are made well in ad­vance of the big day. MARY KEMP has the per­fect recipes

EDP Norfolk - - Bringing The Harvest Home - Mary Kemp

AS I gather to­gether my pud­ding basins, fruit­cake tins and make lists for dried fruit and other Christmas in­gre­di­ents, there may still be sev­eral weeks un­til Christmas, but it’s time for me to make my Christmas pud­dings and cakes. These two Christmas treats are so much bet­ter when made early and two things to tick off that ever-grow­ing fes­tive list.

CHRISTMAS PUD­DING

The Sun­day be­fore Ad­vent is of­ten called Stir-up Sun­day, the day Christmas pud­dings were tra­di­tion­ally made, and when ev­ery mem­ber of the fam­ily would have the op­por­tu­nity to make a wish and a stir. The rit­ual of the wish and stir, I gather, was a bit of a ruse to get chil­dren to help with the la­bo­ri­ous job of chop­ping and the heavy work of stir­ring the pud­dings with the prom­ise of a se­cret wish when they fin­ished.

This recipe is based on my great grand­mother’s Christmas pud­ding recipe. This quan­tity will make three good size pud­dings or sev­eral small ones.

In­gre­di­ents

225g cur­rants 225g sul­tanas 225g raisins 115g glace cher­ries, rinsed and quar­tered 115g chopped dates 115g shelled al­monds, roughly chopped 85g grated car­rot 175g plain flour 225g white bread crumbs ½ tea­spoon cin­na­mon ¼ tea­spoon freshly grated nut­meg ¼ tea­spoon ground cloves ½ tea­spoon bak­ing pow­der The juice and zest of an or­ange The juice and zest of two lemons 225g de­mer­ara sugar Two cook­ing ap­ples, peeled and finely chopped Six beaten eggs A good dessert spoon of black trea­cle A good glass of rum or brandy 225g melted but­ter and a lit­tle ex­tra for greas­ing the bowls

Method

1. In a large bowl mix all the dried fruit to­gether with the al­monds and grated car­rot.

2. In an­other bowl mix the flour, bread­crumbs, spices and bak­ing pow­der and then add them to the dried fruit mix, fol­lowed by the zest, sugar and ap­ple and thor­oughly com­bine.

3. Beat the eggs and pour into the mix­ture, with the juice, the black trea­cle, the rum and the melted but­ter and stir well. Make a wish and stir.

4. Grease the pud­ding basins and three quar­ters fill them with the pud­ding mix­ture, cover, ei­ther with a lid, or grease­proof pa­per and a cloth.

5. To steam, put the pud­dings in the top of a steamer filled with sim­mer­ing wa­ter, cover with a lid and steam for a good six hours, top­ping up with wa­ter when nec­es­sary. Al­ter­na­tively, on a trivet in a large saucepan with sim­mer­ing wa­ter which comes half way up the side of the pud­ding. Cook un­til the pud­ding is a won­der­ful deep brown colour.

6. If I am mak­ing lots of pud­dings I cook them in my Aga sim­mer­ing oven, stacked in a large roast­ing tin half filled with boil­ing wa­ter, and leave them overnight to gen­tly cook.

7. Re­move the pud­ding from the pan and cool com­pletely, then store in a cool dry place.

8. On Christmas Day, gen­tly steam or boil the pud­ding for about an hour to re­heat.

GLUTEN FREE OR DAIRY FREE CHRISTMAS PUD­DINGS:

You can use this recipe to make gluten free and dairy pud­dings, you just need to sub­sti­tute the bread­crumbs, flour and bak­ing pow­der with gluten free al­ter­na­tives, and when you buy the dried fruit check the in­gre­di­ents list, some com­pa­nies use flour to stop the fruit stick­ing so make sure they list rice flour not wheat. For dairy free, use suet rather than but­ter.

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