Ok, so Christmas Pudding isn’t actually a New Zealand thing but as far as I’m concerned, it’s not Christmas without one. Christmas Pudding doesn’t seem to be that popular here as other deserts like trifle or pavlova but that makes complete sense. This ancient English traditional Christmas dish is booze laden, hearty, mostly served hot, and sometimes on fire.
Who would be crazy enough to eat an alcohol-filled flaming mountain of stodge on a hot summer’s day?
My husband. That’s who.
He loves Christmas Pudding. Given that he has to put up with me for 365 days of the year, I figure that the very least I can do every Christmas is to make his favourite Christmas desert. But this year, as much as I love him, I REALLY didn’t want to be steaming something in hot weather. So I found a genius alternative cooking method and fished out my go-to pudding recipe.
This is Nigella’s Ultimate Christmas Pudding recipe. It comes from Nigella Christmas and it really is the best Christmas Pudding recipe I have tried. The key ingredient here is the Pedro Ximénez Sherry. If you’re in New Zealand, you can pick up a 300ml bottle from Moore Wilson for around $19. Clearly you’re not going to use it all in the pudding but hell, it’s Christmas so chances are you’ll be able to find another use for it. It’s going in the boozy trifle my son has INSISTED I make for him this year and it might go into some chocolate truffles too.
This pudding is huge, serving up to 16 people so if you wanted to, you could split the mixture into two pudding basins and give one away as a present.
Or you could just make one and keep on eating it until it’s gone.
For this rich, sweet and aromatic pudding you will need:
- 150g currants
- 150g sultanas
- 150g prunes, scissored into pieces
- 175ml Pedro Ximénez sherry
- 100g plain flour
- 125g breadcrumbs
- 150g suet (or grated vegetable shortening)
- 150g dark muscovado sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp baking powder
- grated zest of a lemon
- 3 eggs
- 1 medium cooking apple
- 2 tbsp honey
The first step is to steep your fruits. Put the currants, sultanas and prunes in a bowl with the sherry, cover them and leave them overnight or for up to 1 week if you’re more organised than me.
When your fruits have had their steeping time, butter up your 1.7 litre pudding basin and stick the kettle on.
Find your largest mixing bowl and combine all the remaining pudding ingredients.
A word here about suet. It’s a bit hit and miss as to whether you’ll find suet in your local supermarket, even at Christmas time. New World definitely stocks it but it’s not in every store. I ended up using this vegetable shortening which seemed to work just fine. I just had to put the weighed out pieces in the freezer for 30 minutes so I could grate them on a box grater.
Add the steeped fruits making sure you scrape every last drop of liquor out of the bowl. Mix well to thoroughly combine, making a Christmas wish as you stir and inviting other family members to do the same.
You can then transfer the mixture to your pudding basin (I borrowed this rather fancy stainless steel one from my mother-in-law), press it down firmly and put on a lid. Make sure it’s tight. If your basin doesn’t come with a lid then foil will do. If you are using foil, just remember to fashion some kind of handle to lift it with. String or twine works well.
And now comes the genius part.
Get out your slow cooker, and place your pudding inside. Pour in enough hot water from your recently boiled kettle to come halfway up the pudding, clamp on the lid and set it to low. You can now leave it to cook for 10 hours. You might need to top up the water but I didn’t need to.
When the pudding has had it’s time in the slow cooker, carefully remove it and store it somewhere cool and out of the way until Christmas Day.
On the big day, simply pop your pudding back into the slow cooker, set it to low and leave for 4 hours. To serve, just invert the pudding on to your fanciest plate, stick something festive in the top of it and take it to the table, flamed or un-flamed; the choice is yours.
I obviously can’t unmould my pudding quite yet so here it is in it’s basin; complete with little manuka flowers in place of the holly.
Merry Christmas, my friends!
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