If there’s one part of the Christmas preparations I love, it’s all the cooking in the run up to the big day and of course the dinner on Christmas Day. Already the supermarket shelves are groaning with with puddings, cakes and mince pies, regardless of whether you buy the luxury, the finest, or even the value, nothing tastes quite as good as the homemade versions.
The cooking always starts with the Christmas pudding and stir up Sunday, the Sunday before the start of advent, when traditionally everyone in the household gave the mixture a stir and made a wish. Our family Christmas Eve and day is always a traditional celebration and as I always make several puddings, stirring up the pudding signals the start of getting ready for Christmas.
The recipe I use has changed over the years, sometimes even on stir up Sunday when I’ve realised that I’ve got rum and no brandy or too many raisins and not enough currants. This year, as well as making my own recipe, I’m trying this new recipe from Chef Neil Forbes from Edinburgh’s Cafe St Honore. I tasted the pudding last year when I attended one of Neil’s Slow Food master classes so I know it is a recipe worth using.
Neil has kindly shared the recipe for us all to have go, so get stirring up and make your Christmas pudding now.
Recipe. Serves 4 (1 pudding)
20g glacé cherries, chopped
20g mixed peel
½ bramley apple, grated
20g carrot, grated
2 tsp finely grated orange zest
40g prunes, stoned and chopped
50g plain flour
20g ground almonds
60g bread crumbs
50g soft dark brown sugar
75g proper beef suet
1 tbsp golden syrup
Pinch each of salt, mixed spice and cinnamon
Glug each of brandy, sherry and rum
4 tbsp stout
· Place the sultanas, currants and raisins in a large bowl. Add the alcohol and leave to soak overnight.
· Line a 2 pint pudding basin with muslin, leaving enough spare to tie at the top.
· Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl of soaked fruit and mix well.
· Fill the lined pudding basin with the mix and tie up the muslin with a piece of string.
· Gently steam the pudding for 2 hours in a lidded pot (water covering half the pudding basin). Don’t allow to boil dry.
· Before serving, check that the centre of the pudding is piping hot.
· Serve with brandy sauce or pouring cream.
And a final word from Neil, “Nothing gives me greater pleasure at this time of year than making our Christmas puddings. They are simply stunning, stuffed with plump brandy soaked Californian raisins and organic ingredients. We make them all by hand at Cafe St Honore“.
If making your own Christmas pudding doesn’t appeal then Neil’s puddings are available from Cafe St Honore, Edinburgh, priced £12.50 including the lovely ceramic bowl they come in. You can pick one up from the restaurant or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0131 226 2211.
Images: Paul Johnston, Copper Mango