Tuesday, 8 December 2015
That time of year, again. The tree is in its place in the barn (but won't be decorated until Christmas week...we stick firmly to the Anglo-Saxon tradition of having the thing fully functioning not long before the 25th, but if we don't buy it and install it at the start of the month, we risk getting only the ratty remnants left unbought by the Italians, all of whom have to have their Christmas decorations up by December 8th, in time for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Which is today.)
The puddings are steaming away on the stove - one for us, and a larger one for the Paoli, who always have a rabbit's-friends-and-relations gathering for Christmas day. As I've done for the past few years, the pudding more or less follows a very reliable recipe from Marguerite Patten, which includes not only apple and carrot, but also prunes and apricots...as well as all of the usual more run-of-the-mill dried fruit, and a healthy dollop of black treacle.
The recipe couldn't be simpler. So far, the puddings have had five and a half hours....so, they'll be about ready by the time I've finished writing this.
For two medium-sized, or one very large pudding:
Ingredients: 4 oz Suet; 1 lb 12 oz mixed dried fruit and peel; 4 oz dried apricots, chopped; 4 oz prunes, chopped; 4 oz slivered almonds; 4 oz muscovado sugar; 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced; 1 medium apple, peeled, cored and finely diced; 3 oz plain flour; 6 oz fresh breadcrumbs; 1/2 tsp each of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice; 1 tsp each of grated lemon and orange zest; 1 tbs each of lemon and orange juice; 1 generous tbs black treacle; 8 fl oz milk; 2 large or 3 medium eggs, lightly beaten.
1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl, and stir carefully to mix together very thoroughly. Leave, covered, overnight.
2. Grease two pudding bowls (or one large one, as you wish), and fill them with the mixture, levelling the top once done. Cover each bowl with a circle of greaseproof paper, with one pleat in, to allow it to expand as necessary, then cover the greaseproof paper in turn with aluminium foil. Tie round the neck of the pudding bowl with string.
3. Steam over a low heat for 5-6 hours; if the lid of the pan is not tight fitting, you might need to replenish the water as you go; always best to check, just in case.
4. Once steamed, remove from heat, and once they have sufficiently cooled, replace the greaseproof and foil cover with fresh versions of the same. Store in a cool place, until Christmas Day.
5. To re-heat, steam again for 2 hours.
Always served in this house with brandy butter.