With the forthcoming arrival of my parents, I´m getting into the swing of Christmas food preparations. Traditional Christmas cakes and puddings in the UK can be made ages ahead of time (even a year) to allow them to mature. Of course, I am nowhere near as organised as all that, and none of us is mad keen on the heavier traditional pudding.
For many years I have made a lighter version based on a recipe from my trusty Delia Smith´s Christmas Cookbook. In fact, looking back, I made it the first year I was in sole charge of Christmas lunch for 10 people. My beloved grandfather had died in the November, and this was 21 years ago. Of course, we were all still in a state of shock and sadness, especially my darling grandmother, but we still wanted to celebrate. I lived up the road from my parents in a little flat, and it was decided that we would change things a little so that memories of sitting in my parents´ dining room with Grandad at the head of the table would be a little less vivid.
My parents cooked the turkey in their oven as I just didn´t have room, but everything else was done in my little kitchen. All my wobbly hand me down tables and chairs were pressed into service, and the family walked up the road carrying girft and fold up chairs. Plates were borrowed – I was a 25 year old in her first flat as a non sharer, so I was still building my collection. Tears were shed, but much there was fun and laughter too. It was emotional but happy and we all ate and drank far too much. The meal ended with this pudding – made initially as my grandfather would probably have grumbled about there not being “proper” pudding and this made us all chuckle. Since then it´s become a new kind of family tradition whenever I am the Christmas lunch fairy, and my parents requested it this year.
I haven´t changed the recipe much at all, so I hope Saint Delia won´t mind. It can be frozen once made, and then warmed through in a steamer or Bain Marie on Christmas Day while you are eating lunch.
- 175g sifted self raising flour
- Pinch of salt
- 110g softened butter
- 110g brown sugar
- 1 medium apple chopped or grated
- 2 large eggs beaten gently
- 3 rounded tablespoons of mincemeat
- 2 pinches ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- Grated zest of one lemon and one orange
- 2 large tbsp of candied peel
Put half the peel in the base of a 1.2 litre buttered pudding basin. Beat the butter and sugar until creamy and then add 1tbsp of egg and flour and mix in, continuing until both egg and flour have all been incorporated. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir in, then spoon the mixture into the basin.
Cover with a double layer of pleated foil and tie a string around to keep the foil tight and give yourself a handle to lift it out.
Mucky Cooker – oops, don´t let it boil over!
Place it in a steamer or saucepan half filled with boiling water and steam gently covered with a lid for 2 ½ hours. Keep a kettle of boiling water to hand to top up the water when needed.
When the time is up, let it cool completely and you can then turn it out and wrap well in cling film to freeze until needed. If making ahead and reheating on Christmas Day, slide it back into the pudding basin and cover again with foil to do this.
Delicious with custard or brandy sauce, boozy fruits, ice cream….whatever takes your fancy!
PS. Stir Up Sunday (the last Sunday before Advent) is when Christmas Puddings were traditionally made to allow them to mature. Of course, I missed that date, but never mind! I was also always told that every member of the family needed to give the cake or pudding a stir and make a wish – so we did this too…