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For we all like figgy pudding

I spent the weekend sleeping, marking, and making Christmas pudding. Since I don't do proper cookery very often, and indeed have never made a Christmas pudding before, I took a few pictures of the process:


Sixpences boiling merrily on the stove Some (but not all) of the ingredients
Sixpences boiling merrily on the stove

Some (but not all) of the ingredients

The mixture at the 'dry' stage Stale bread waiting to be grated into breadcrumbs
The mixture at the 'dry' stage

Stale bread waiting to be grated into breadcrumbs

The complete mixture being stirred Puddings steaming on the stove
The complete mixture being stirred

Puddings steaming on the stove

Completed puddings Completed puddings 2
Completed puddings

Completed puddings 2



It was fun to do, and the steaming process in particular transformed the kitchen into a kind of orange-and-cinnamon flavoured sauna which it was very tempting to just stay in all weekend while the marking lay unattended in the lounge. It was also quite a lot easier than I had expected. There are certainly a lot of ingredients, and it takes a long time to measure them all out, but once they are assembled it is really just a question of mixing them up and waiting patiently while they simmer on the stove. Saint Delia had given me to understand that the mixing process in particular was destined to be terribly arduous, but (unless I have done something wrong) it didn't seem that bad really. Anyway, the final result seems to both look and smell like a Christmas pudding. I just have to hope that it tastes like one too.

Since I live in Yorkshire these days, I feel duty-bound to point out that making your own Christmas pudding in the 21st century is very definitely a leisure activity, rather than an economy option. The ingredients alone cost something in the region of £20 - largely, of course, because I kept having to do things like buy a 200g pot of glacé cherries so that I would have 50g worth of them to put in the pudding. And that's before you allow for the fact that I also had to buy two pudding basins and a pudding steamer in order to cook it all. Still, does buying even Waitrose's finest luxury Christmas pudding have the same romance? Do you get to make a wish while you stir it, or wonder excitedly who will find the sixpences concealed in its murky depths, and whether their teeth with survive the experience? Oh no, I think not.

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Comments

( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
segh
Nov. 16th, 2009 10:04 pm (UTC)
You're too early! Christmas puddings should be made the last Sunday before Western Advent ("Stir-up Sunday") But congratulations anyway.
This is the first year my daughter won't be with us for Christmas - she's going to her mother-in-law's. But she asked if she might take a pudding with her and then asked me for a recipe. It's nice to think of it going down the generations.
hollyione
Nov. 17th, 2009 12:08 am (UTC)
Have to say my Mum did hers the same weekend as Pen's... Maybe there are different traditions across the UK?
segh
Nov. 17th, 2009 07:22 am (UTC)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stir-up_Sunday
Also, every member of the family must stir, three times east-to-west, in memory of the Three Kings!
kantti
Nov. 17th, 2009 03:40 pm (UTC)
We do ours about ten years in advance, in practice. And in bulk, obviously!

The aging improves them, although I think we might have pushed it a bit far with the last pudding, made many years ago, moved three times, and destined for consumption this year. I am hoping this year's pudding will be pleasantly well-aged rather than an exercise in food poisoning or dessication.
strange_complex
Nov. 17th, 2009 07:38 am (UTC)
Ah, but one of these puddings will be eaten a fortnight before Christmas, during a weekend away with some friends, so I'd say I'm about right for that one at least.
segh
Nov. 17th, 2009 07:45 am (UTC)
My mother used to save one for Easter. Cooking, as she used to say, is not an exact science!
My family also has a wonderful recipe for brandy butter. Take some butter. Add icing sugar until you can't taste the butter. Then add brandy until you can't taste the sugar. The charm of this being, as I'm sure you realise, that you have to keep tasting it. My children say that they can take or leave Christmas pudding, but it's a wonderful excuse to eat brandy butter.
strange_complex
Nov. 17th, 2009 10:22 am (UTC)
Mmmmm.... brandy butter! Yes, I can very much see your children's point. I certainly wouldn't want to eat Christmas pudding without copious helpings of brandy butter, brandy sauce and brandy cream. :-)
kissmeforlonger
Nov. 16th, 2009 10:41 pm (UTC)
I don't really like christmas puddings but the idea of having something cooking that smelled so delicious is a lovely thought.
firefish
Nov. 16th, 2009 10:51 pm (UTC)
I absolutely hate Christmas pudding but I have fond memories of making them with my mother when I was younger. I loved stirring everything together and I was fascinated by an ingredient that could be called 'suet'! Making a wish was always pretty important as well. Hope yours taste delicious.
hollyione
Nov. 17th, 2009 12:08 am (UTC)
This is so much what Mum did (and still does, with Holly!) It is lovely to see a tradition carrying on. Now, did you make a wish whilst stirring? Mum says that is the key ingredient :)
strange_complex
Nov. 17th, 2009 07:44 am (UTC)
It was actually at least 50% memories of your Mum and her puddings that helped to inspire me to make mine. I remember very vividly being round at your house at least once when she was making it, and being asked to help stir and make a wish - I thought it was very exciting. I'm really glad to hear she's still doing it, and I bet Holly loves it!
huskyteer
Nov. 17th, 2009 10:11 am (UTC)
My mouth is watering at the pictures and description of the smell. I consider myself a reasonable cook but I'm very daunted by the notion of attempting Christmas pud - well done!
strange_complex
Nov. 17th, 2009 10:23 am (UTC)
It just takes a lot of patience, really. As long as you have Delia by your side, it's hard to go far wrong!
big_daz
Nov. 17th, 2009 12:27 pm (UTC)
That's definately a labour of love.

The best thing that happened to XMas Pud was the invention of the microwave- they're ready in no time now and you don't have all the paper peeling off the kitchen walls with the steam.
(Deleted comment)
strange_complex
Nov. 17th, 2009 07:00 pm (UTC)
No, they are real sixpences. I got them from eBay - 28 for the princely sum of one pound! Not bad going, really, given that 28 sixpences were only ever worth the equivalent of 70p in new money anyway.
(Deleted comment)
strange_complex
Nov. 17th, 2009 09:39 pm (UTC)
Yes, I figured I should do something to sterilise them if they were going in people's food. They looked pretty clean anyway, though. As for recycling, I shall let people keep the ones they find if they want to - but if not, I'll be glad to have them back for future puddings.
angeoverhere
Nov. 17th, 2009 09:31 pm (UTC)
Oh wow, that's *deeply* impressive! Looking forward to seeing the real thing..
strange_complex
Nov. 17th, 2009 09:49 pm (UTC)
The danger now, of course, is that because there is such a time-lag between making it and eating it, I may forget all about it and leave it in the cupboard when I set out for Norwich! However, I shall try very hard to remember. :-)
purple_peril
Nov. 18th, 2009 01:19 am (UTC)
That was always the point of Christmas Pudding of course - the ingredients were so outrageously expensive that it was an extra-special once-a-year treat :)

BTW if you have one of those electric steamer machines, it will work very well for puddings and seems to produce less greasy fug than doing it on the stove.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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