Nothing like making proper Christmas pudding
How hard can it be to buy a Christmas pudding and a few mince pies? I know, I know – shame on me why don’t I make my own?
Well, I hate Christmas pudding and as for mince pies I can take ‘em or leave ‘em. Actually, if I’m truthful, I can’t leave ‘em so rather than make a whole batch which I’d eat at one standing, I buy a pack of six when needs must.
It has become so complicated. Ever since Heston Bloominlikely laid down the gauntlet and stuffed a whole orange, then a clementine, inside his puds, chefs have knocked back the cooking sherry and gone into flavour free-fall.
I am surprised none of them has stuffed a gauntlet into one yet... edible of course. This year the Dr
Faust of the kitchen has come up with a pudding filled with candied apple, drenched in calvados and “decorated in a delightful gold shimmer”.
I’ve seen brioche and cranberry bombes, melting snowfall sponge, puddings with chocolate and ginger, puddings with pineapple.
As for the mince pies, sloe gin mince tarts, black forest mince pie crumbles, frangipane mince pies, salted caramel mince pies and wonder boy’s offering? Chocolate and sour cherry crumble mince pies.
I am surprised he has not gone the whole caramel salted hog and called them “deconstructed” with the ingredients in separate packets for us to put together! Don’t get me started in his profiter-coals. Black profiterole “coals with a flame-coloured mandarin orange crème pâtissière filling drizzled with a warmed smoked orange caramel sauce and scattered with crackling popping candy to give the magical illusion of glowing embers”. Crackling? I wouldn’t put it past him!
Everything has got to have a twist nowadays. Are our overworked palates so deprived and jaded that we need new flavours?
Well I found my proper oldfashioned Christmas pudding a week last Sunday courtesy of Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines.
Michael and I are both patrons of the very organisation that helped with his adoption Families For Children. Ten years ago on Stir Up Sunday, he started what has now become a tradition of making Christmas puddings with the little ‘uns who have found loving homes through FFC.
James, Paul and Michael Dart generously not only give us the Estuary Room at Darts Farm to host the event but provide party food and all the ingredients necessary for 30 little ‘uns to make a mini Christmas pud to take home.
They all line up with a parent for a hand wash and work their way down the production line of bowls of ingredients, pieces of muslin and lengths of string that Michael sets up.
He shouts the instructions and gees them all up and I help them weigh out the ingredients and get mixing… with or without spoons… in fact bare hands are definitely preferable. It is chaos and I love it.
A week later and I am still picking clumps of mincemeat out of my hair. The recipe used is one handed to
Michael by his mother. Cinnamon, nuts, sherry, sultanas, raisins… ingredients we all recognise.
After a visit from Father Christmas and a raffle in which everyone wins, they all go home clutching their puddings and hopefully with memories of the day they made them.
So you see, I have made Christmas puddings… and proper ones!
I found my proper old-fashioned Christmas pudding courtesy of chef Michael Caines