Dad always puts at least one silver sixpence in his Christmas puddings; traditionally the person who got the sixpence in their serving would get to keep it. Dad always swaps his sixpences for a pound coin. Unfortunately, I don’t own any but I put a 5 pence piece in each of mine. Another tradition is to gather the family round on “Stir-Up Sunday” to help stir the pudding batter and make a wish. This would have been done four or five weeks before Christmas, but I’m happy to break the tradition to give the pudding more time to mature.
It takes a long time to steam puddings, so make sure you keep an eye on them to prevent the water from boiling off. If you’re worried about choking then don’t put the coins in (I decided to leave them out when I made pudding for the college Law Society, deciding that a choking hazard in a room exclusively full of practising and academic lawyers was a lawsuit waiting to happen!). And to make a real entrance when the pudding is brought in after Christmas dinner, light it with flaming alcohol.
Christmas Pudding 2011
Adapted from BBC’s Rich Christmas Pudding
Roughly Chopped Dried Fruit:
10 oz (275g) Sultanas
4 oz (110g) Dates
4 oz (110g) Dried Apricots
4 oz (110g) Dried Figs
4 oz (110g) Prunes
8 oz (220g) Mixed Dried Fruit
2 oz (60g) Fresh Eating Apple
3 oz (90g) Hazelnuts
8 oz (220g) Suet
5 fl oz (150ml) Rum, plus extra for feeding
Double Sifted Dry Ingredients:
4 oz (110g) Self-Raising Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp Mixed Spice
1 tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg
4 oz (110g) Fresh Breadcrumbs
8 oz (220g) Dark Brown Soft Sugar
4 Free Range Eggs, Beaten
- Mix the dried fruit, suet and rum in a bowl with a lid, and soak for at least 24 hours, and up to a week. Stir occasionally throughout the soaking process.
- Lightly Grease 2 x 1 Pint and 1 x 2 Pint Pudding Basins (or 4 x 1 Pint or 2 x 2 Pint). I prefer ceramic basins but currently only have plastic ones. They work fine, and have lids which I guess is a bonus, but I don’t think they’re as good for steaming as a proper ceramic basin like the one Dad uses is.
- Mix together the dry ingredients. Add the fruit and eggs.
- Spoon the mix into the basins, adding a silver sixpence to each if desired. Cover each and tie, ready for steaming.
- Boil each basin for 5 – 6 hours, topping up the water from time to time.
- Once removed, cover each pudding and store in a cool, dry place. Feed with rum once a week or so until Christmas.
- To serve, steam again until hot and turn out on a plate. Serve with custard, brandy butter or clotted cream.