CHRISTMAS pudding is the classic festive dessert. Today is stir up Sunday – five weeks before Christmas, when traditionally, families would gather to stir the pudding mix. Follow this recipe to make the best Christmas pudding for 2018.
Preparation time: 20 mins Cooking time: 8 hours Serves 8
- FOR THE PUDDING:
- 50g blanched almond
- 2 large Bramley cooking apples
- 200g box candied peel (in large pieces) or all citron if you can find it
- 1 whole nutmeg
- 1kg raisins
- 140g plain flour
- 100g soft fresh white breadcrumb
- 100g light muscovado sugar, crumbled if it looks lumpy
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tbsp brandy or cognac, plus extra to flame
- 250g packet butter, taken straight from the fridge
FOR THE BRANDY BUTTER:
- 175g unsalted butter, softened
- Grated zest of half an orange
- 5 tbsp icing sugar
- 4 tbsp brandy or cognac
- 2 pieces of stem ginger, finely chopped
Chop the almonds coarsely. Peel, core and chop the apples. Chop the candied peel. Grate three quarters of the nutmeg. Mix all the ingredients for the pudding, except the butter, in a large bowl.
Grate a quarter of the butter into the bowl, then stir everything together. Repeat until all the butter is grated, then stir for 3-4 minutes – the mixture is ready when it subsides slightly after each stir.
Generously butter two 1.2 litre/ 2 pint bowls and put a disc of greaseproof paper in the bottom of each. Pack in the pudding mixture. Cover with a double layer of greaseproof paper or baking parchment, pleating it to allow for expansion, then tie with string (keep the paper in place with a rubber band while tying). Trim off any excess paper.
Stand each bowl on a large sheet of foil and bring the edges up over the top, then put another sheet of foil over the top and bring it down underneath to make a double package (this makes the puddings watertight). Tie with more string, and make a handle to lift in and out of the pan.
Boil or oven steam the puddings for eight hours, topping up with water as necessary. Remove from the pans and leave to cool overnight. When cold, discard the wrappings and re-wrap in new greaseproof or baking parchment, foil and string. Store in a cool, dry place until Christmas.
To make the brandy butter, cream the butter with the orange zest and sugar. Gradually beat in the brandy or cognac and chopped ginger. Put in a small bowl, fork the top and put in the fridge to set. The butter will keep for a week in the fridge, or it can be frozen for up to six weeks.
On Christmas Day, boil or oven steam for one hour. Unwrap and turn out. To flame, warm 3-4 tbsp brandy in a small pan, pour it over the pudding and set light to it.