Granny knows best

Derek John­stone, of Borth­wick Cas­tle, cre­ates a luxe Christ­mas pud­ding

The Herald on Sunday - Sunday Herald Life - - Food and Drink -

To­day is Stir-Up Sun­day – the last Sun­day be­fore ad­vent and, tra­di­tion­ally, the day when fam­i­lies would gather to­gether to stir the Christ­mas pud­ding. As a wee boy grow­ing up in Ersk­ine, this was al­ways the time of year when my Granny May would get started on pre­par­ing her Christ­mas pud­dings. I was so ex­cited to help her in the kitchen, even be­fore I was tall enough to reach the work­top!

I re­mem­ber be­ing al­lowed to stand on one of my Granny’s lit­tle chairs to reach up to the kitchen counter, where I was given the im­por­tant job of mak­ing sure all the in­gre­di­ents were mixed to­gether prop­erly.

Once the Christ­mas pud­ding had been stirred and given the seal of ap­proval, Gran would trans­fer the mix­ture into an old bis­cuit tin, cover it with a lid and leave it in the kitchen to mari­nade for a cou­ple of weeks.

The sweet, spicy smell of the dried fruit, cher­ries and brandy filled the whole room once the lid was taken off. There’s noth­ing else quite like it.

We would cook the pud­dings just be­fore Christ­mas, and this was where I could help out again. My job this time was to place the 20p piece into the pud­ding mix­ture be­fore it was steamed for sev­eral hours.

As a child, I never prop­erly un­der­stood why I was putting money in the Christ­mas pud­ding, but it seemed

like a fun thing to do at the time. It’s a long-stand­ing Christ­mas tra­di­tion that the sil­ver coin brings good luck to who­ever finds it in their serv­ing of Christ­mas pud­ding. I must say though, bit­ing down on such a thing that might cause a trip to the den­tist with a cracked tooth, sounds fairly un­lucky to me! For that rea­son, I prob­a­bly wouldn’t rec­om­mend it now.

My own Christ­mas pud­ding recipe which I’m shar­ing with you to­day has been tried and tested over the years, and I must say I’ve al­ways re­ceived pos­i­tive feed­back on it.

I may even have con­verted a cou­ple of my friends who al­ways said they didn’t like Christ­mas pud­ding – I’m not sure if it’s the ad­di­tion of Guin­ness, or some­thing else al­to­gether, but it’s def­i­nitely a win­ner.

My wife, El­lie, and I use this recipe in our kitchen at home now, and, when time al­lows, we make ex­tra and give them to our friends and fam­ily as preChrist­mas gifts.

It’s per­fect served with a gen­er­ous help­ing of ap­ple brandy cus­tard, a bunch of fresh red­cur­rants and a wee glass of dry sherry on the side.

Christ­mas Pud­ding Recipe In­gre­di­ents:

500g raisins

300g sul­tanas

300g cur­rants

190g whole blanched al­monds

375g suet

1 lemon, juiced

1 or­ange, juiced

1 car­rot, peeled and grated

200g bread­crumbs

375g soft light brown sugar

6 whole eggs A pinch of salt

1 tsp. cin­na­mon 2

tsps. mixed spice

125g candied or­ange peel, chopped

125g glace cher­ries

330ml Guin­ness 50ml brandy

200g plain flour Red­cur­rants and holly springs, to gar­nish

Method

1. Place all the in­gre­di­ents in a large mix­ing bowl. Mix well, then cover and leave for at least 24 hours. Don’t worry about re­frig­er­at­ing, just pop it in a cool place in the kitchen.

2. Fill a large basin with the pud­ding mix­ture, then place a sheet of grease­proof pa­per over the top to stop the pud­ding dry­ing out while steam­ing. Cover the basin with a muslin cloth, then tie it in place with string, un­der the lip of the pud­ding basin.

3. Place the pud­ding basin in a bain­marie and cook at 150C/Gas Mark 2 for three hours.

4. Once cooked, tip the pud­ding onto a plate and gar­nish with a holly spring and red­cur­rants.

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