This year, as my mum is in hospital and unable to make the pudding, the task has fallen to me…
*Cue dramatic DA DA DA DAAAA*
The recipe is my Nan’s (actually my Dad’s mother), and has been made every year for Christmas since goodness knows when…we are going to visit 96 year old Nan this weekend for Christmas, so I will ask her where it actually originated from. The typed out (typewriter, obviously) recipe card reads: ‘Stephanie’s Christmas Pudding’. I have no idea who Stephanie is, but she sure likes her suet. Yep, suet. This recipe most definitely calls for suet (the hard fat found around the kidneys, usually beef but can be lamb or mutton also). One year my mum made it without the suet – big mistake. It is just not the same. So, if you’re not into animal products in your desserts, or food generally, this probably isn’t the recipe for you!
As I type this, my pudding is bubbling away on the stove. It has been going for three hours, and has another three hours to go. This pudding business is not for the modern working mother, I’m telling you! I was meaning to make it literally weeks ago but haven’t been home for that length of time to keep topping up the pot with water or have something on my stove bubbling away.
Controversially, I have just used 1kg of mixed dried fruit rather than the split up of raisins and currents and sultanas and peel that the recipe calls for. Mum has assured me this is ok, but the pressure is on. I have everything crossed that the pudding gods are smiling upon me this year, my inaugural pudding contribution to Christmas lunch…
Nan’s Christmas Pudding
360g suet (we get ours from the butcher, and the most recent one we found who provided suet gave it pre-grated – fancy!)
180g plain flour, sifted
180g fresh white breadcrumbs
125g candied peel
180g dark brown sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
100ml brandy, or more
Grate suet (or hopefully your butcher will do this for you like ours, this is the first time in 30 years of pudding making that we’ve found that though! I have memories of mum grating and grating the suet every year with her banged up old grater, hands covered in the fatty suet). Mix all ingredients in a large bowl – it’s quite a large mixture and actually makes two puddings. Mixture should be fairly wet. Increase milk if necessary. Leave overnight.
Next day, pack mixture into two well greased basins, cover each with a disc of greaseproof paper and a double sheet of foil. Tie securely under the rim with a doubled length of string. Stand each basin on a wire rack or trivet (I just used an upturned saucer) in a large pot and add boiling water to reach two thirds up the side of the pudding basin. Boil for six hours. You will need to regularly top up the water as it boils dry, keep it to two thirds (I think I topped it up every hour or so).
On Christmas Day boil for at least one hour to heat through. Serve with Nan’s brandy sauce.
Of course, as children, we thought Nan’s Christmas pudding was completely revolting – what child likes Christmas pudding?! None. Boiled dried fruit is actually a pretty strange dessert, and I actually loathe fruit cake…yet here I am praising the humble Christmas pud. I think as an adult it now just conjures a lot of festive memories, and the taste of brandy is definitely the stuff of Christmas nostalgia! I love how this recipe says ‘or more’ in regards to the brandy – ha! Glug glug glug. Nan’s Christmas brandy sauce is the perfect match to this pudding, which I think I will post separately, but the pudding definitely needs lashings and lashings of it. We are a brandy cream/sauce kind of family, whereas Matt’s family is a custard crew. Different horses for different courses, but custard is definitely the brandy cream’s lesser cousin if you ask me. One year Mum I think quadrupled the brandy quanitity for it and blew everyone’s socks off, it was like rocket fuel – wooooo!
Ahhhh, Christmas. Pudding bubbling on the stove, shopping lists a’plenty, wrapping presents after dark, baking special shows, pine tree scent wafting throughout the house. This may be just the very start of my illustrious pudding making career, so I’m trying not to fret too much if it doesn’t work out perfectly (or at all!) I’m sure I’ll have decades and decades to perfect it… But as the girls were helping me stir up the mixture after letting it sit overnight, I told them to make a Christmas wish. Something we entirely got from a Peppa-bloody-Pig Christmas book, but I liked the concept. They made their little wishes and they’re now bubbling away in that pudding on the stove. Perhaps this is a new Christmas tradition I’ll do with our girls, boiling their great-grandmother’s pudding recipe and ‘throwing’ their wishes into the bowl.
I hope all your Christmas pudding wishes come true. Extra, extra brandy and all.