Cooking food is one of my passions, far more than eating if I am honest, although eating is a close second. The holidays is a great time for me, in fact winter in general. I can hide in the kitchen making jam, chutney, biscuits, mincemeat and fill the house with festive smells. I always cook at least 90% more than can be eaten by a normal sized household so foodie gifts are a great by product of my cooking obsession.
Christmas puddings are great but I feel that large puddings often get wasted, especially after a big meal as they are a heavy and dense thing to eat. This year I decided to make what I am calling couple sized puddings. Sharing is romantic and romance is festive, please don’t ask me why it just is. I also decided to be very traditional and boil my puddings in muslin. The advantage of doing this is the size of your pudding is not dictated to by the size of your pudding basin.
Although I have been very traditional by cooking my puddings in muslin the recipe is not traditional. One of alcohols I used was Buckfast, I have to say that outside of the UK this may well be hard to find, it is a spiced tonic wine prepared by monks in the south of England. The rich spiced flavour was the main reason I chose to use it but you can substitute it for a rich tawny port instead.
you will need;
250g golden raisins
250g mixed raisins & sultanas
150g glace cherries (chopped)
1 cup walnuts (chopped)
1/2 cup Kahlua
1/2 cup Buckfast (or port)
zest & juice of 3 oranges
2tsp mixed spice
1tsp ground ginger
3/4 vegetable suet
3 eggs (beaten)
4 cups breadcrumbs
1tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup dark brown sugar
Put the dried fruit, walnuts, mixed spice, ginger & nutmeg into a bowl. Add the zest and juice of the oranges, pour in the Kahlua & Buckfast. Cover the bowl and leave to soak for up to 24 hours, leave overnight at least.
Mix in the sugar, suet, breadcrumbs & eggs. Stir everything well so that it is thoroughly mixed.
Cut four pieces of muslin or fine calico approximately 14inches square.
Split the mixture into four and form balls. Wrap each ball in the muslin tie at the top and then tie to a wooden spoon or doweling as shown in the image above. You need to ensure that the pudding does not touch the bottom of the pan so that it does not get a flat bottom. You also need to make sure that the pan is deep enough for the puddings to hang below the water line.
Once you have your four puddings prepared and in the pan cover with boiling water from the kettle, balance the pan lid on top of the wooden spoons and boil for 3 hours, yes three hours. You will need to occasionally need to top the pan up with fresh boiling water. If you decide to make one large pudding with this recipe you will need to extend the cooking time to at 5 hours.
After the allotted cooking time remove the puddings and hang up to dry. An airing cupboard is ideal for this.
Once your puddings are dry you can pop them in your kitchen cupboard to enjoy later or wrap them as gifts.
To serve the puddings you need to steam each pudding for 40mins – 1hr.
I wrote the steaming instructions down on a piece of card and placed it in a small pouch as a gift tag.
To wrap the puddings cover first with cellophane, or simple wrap foil around the pudding. This will prevent the grease from the suet leaking through onto the paper. I made some more illustrated paper to wrap the puddings like the tree paper from gift wrapping part one post. This time I chose holly, stars and a repeated phrase from We Wish You A Merry Christmas.