This is a modern Christmas Pudding recipe, using a vegetable suet substitute, (so it is suitable for vegetarians) and it also takes out the nuts, so the pudding is soft and yielding. It is also not as heavy as a Traditional Christmas Pudding, but the taste is just as deep and satisfying. Yet, in truth, to get the best out of any Christmas pudding it should be aged for at least a week, and preferably for four weeks, before serving, but it can be made up at short notice and still be enjoyable.
This recipe follows in the path of the earnest writing of ‘The Alderman’ in 1849 (see below) who extols the virtues of a Christmas Pudding, and these traditions are maintained in this modern recipe. There are a few modern ingredients and techniques used, which lighten the pudding, but the main change is the addition of a deep resonant note of chocolate (by using a quality Cocoa powder).
From ‘The Knife And Fork For 1849’ by ‘The Alderman’ Published 1849
THE CHRISTMAS PUDDING.
A plum-pudding is a joy for ever. Other puddings are very well occasionally, but a plum-pudding is always a welcome dish to the epicure. It is, certainly, taken in a truly scientific light, the masterpiece of the British kitchen. We have no other dish that can be compared with it for a moment ; it stands alone—incomparable. I am not going to insult the wives of England by offering them a recipe for plum-pudding; I simply wish to add my testimony to that of a grateful world in favour of this estimable pudding. Let me, however, in conclusion, warn my younger readers against the wrong done to gastronomic science by the presumptuous mortal who dares to swallow plum-pudding without fully, earnestly, and reverentially doing justice to its singular exquisiteness.
Christmas Pudding Modern Recipe
1st Group Of Ingredients
- 200g raisins
- 200g sultanas
- 100g medjool dates, chopped small
- 100g currants
- 100g mixed candied peel, chopped small
- 200ml Dark Rum
- 200ml Port
- 1 small orange, juice and zest
- 1 small lemon, juice and zest
2nd Group Of Ingredients:
- 150g plain flour, sieved
- 150g breadcrumbs
- 150g shredded vegetable suet
- 150g castor sugar
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 2 cooking apples – peeled cored, grated (last minute to stop browning)
- 3 tbsp of finest Dark Chocolate Powder (Cocoa Powder)
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp of ground ginger
- 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp of ground mixed spice
- 1/2 tsp of sea salt
- some milk if the mixture is a little dry
- 50ml rum, to set the pudding alight.
- A sprig of holly, with a few red berries on it.
- Vanilla Custard
The night before: Wash and rinse in cold running water the currants, sultanas and raisins, then leave to drain. Once drained place all the fruit ingredients for the Christmas Pudding from the first group into a bowl, stir in the orange and lemon juice and zest and the rum and port and mix well. Cover and leave overnight in a cool place. The dried fruit will plump up with the alcohol and fruit juices in the night.
On the following day: lightly grease a large 2 litre round pudding basin with butter (or two smaller ones) and cover the base with a small round disc of greaseproof or baking paper.
Soften the butter and beat together with the sugar in a very large mixing bowl until light and creamy, then add in the vegetable suet and mix well. Then beat in the eggs a little at a time.
In stages add in everything else, stirring all the time – the flour, breadcrumbs, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, salt, spices, baking powder, etc. and then everything from the overnight bowl of fruit. Make sure all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed in and there are no clumps, if the mixture is a little wet add in some extra plain flour, if a little dry add in some milk. The mixture should be of a soft ‘dropping’ consistency, i.e. the mixture is not too sloppy but will drop off the spoon when tilted.
Spoon the mixture into the greased pudding basin, and pack it down a little, level the surface with the back of the spoon – the level of the pudding should be about 3cm (1.5 inches) below the top (or less) of the basin. I like to use an oven-proof clear glass pudding basin so that I can see what is going on during the steaming time and how it is maturing. Cut a round, large sheet of baking parchment (or greaseproof paper) and one of foil slightly bigger so they will come down at least 10 cm (4 inches) over the sides of the basin.
Lay the baking parchment on top of the foil and fold a large pleat down the centre of both (to allow for any pudding expansion). Lay the sheets over the top of the pudding basin (foil side up) and secure around the sides with string – wrap the string around the pudding basin several times tightly and tie the string off to make sure the foil top is secured down firmly and the pudding is sealed. Trim off any excess foil and paper if it is too long. You can even make a string handle by looping it over the top and tying it off under the string going around the basin.
Stand the pudding basin in a deep saucepan (which has a tight fitting lid) on an upturned heatproof plate (or metal bars etc.) to raise it off the bottom of the saucepan – add a little water under the plate to get rid of any air pockets. Pour in boiling water to come just under half way up the side of the pudding basin.
Keep the water at a medium simmer and a gentle bubble, cover with a tight fitting lid and steam for 7 or 8 hours, topping up with boiling water from time to time. It is important to keep checking the level of the water so that it does not run dry.
After the allotted time spent steaming remove the pudding basin from the saucepan and allow to cool. When cool take off and replace the foil and greaseproof paper top with some fresh sheets and re-secure and seal – before sealing drizzle over a little extra rum and port. Store the pudding in its sealed pudding basin in a cool dark place until Christmas Day.
On Christmas Day you will need to reheat the Christmas Pudding by steaming as before for 2 to 3 hours. Then remove and uncover the pudding basin, carefully turn the Christmas Pudding out onto a serving plate.
To serve: If setting the pudding alight it is often best to use a metal tray or plate with a lip to sit the pudding on and contain the lighted brandy as it is poured over … add a small sprig of holly with berries into the top of the pudding and take the pudding to the table, (it is better to light the pudding at the table rather than carrying it in).
In a small saucepan warm some brandy and vodka, (the vodka ads a higher alcohol volume to increase the time of burning). Gently heat it through so that it is steaming. Using a lighted taper light the rising vapours in the saucepan, dim the lights and pour the lighted brandy and vodka over and around the pudding – it will only remain alight for a short time, then cut into the pudding.
Use a knife to cut the pudding into slices and turn the slices into bowls – serve with Vanilla Custard.