Look at the apples, they are Black Oxfords grown
in Paris, Maine...they are beautiful!
apparently this helps with the lightness
of the pudding and helps marry
The 'puds' ready to be steamed with their
little discs of buttered paper and aluminium foil covers...
So forgive me the lateness of this posting.....I should have done this a week ago so all you wooden spoon and pudding basin wielding Anglophiles could have made your Christmas Puds on Stir-Up Sunday, the traditional day for making one's puddings but, alas, Thankies got in the way and here I am making my puddings late...although the one I have chosen for you doesn't need too much time to mature, it is quite grown up already....By the way the reason it is also called a PLUM pudding, even though it has no plums (!!!!) is because in Elizabethan times imported plums were held in such high esteem that the word plum came to be used in reference to other dried fruits......I use it myself to mean something is great as in "What a plum spot thou hast given to my Plum Pudding on your delightful Christmas prandial table!!!"...and other such comments!
I have chosen a vegetarian pud as I read something on David Lebovitz's blog that has put me off kidney suet for perhaps the rest of my life.
...and away we go....."Gourmet Christmas Pudding" from Rose Elliot's Gourmet Vegetarian Cooking with slight variations by me
INGREDIENTS: (If you need conversions from weights to cups please check out Sue Pallett's website..the link is listed in my blogroll, Thanks!)
8oz fine wholewheat crumbs (about five slices of good bread, I crumbed it in a coffee grinder with excellent results)
4oz whole wheat flour (I only had white and it worked fine)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon cardamom (my change, the recipe called for 2 teaspoons mixed spice but I like cardamom, especially with the lemon in the recipe)
1 teaspoon nutmeg (again my addition 'cos I like nutmeg)
2oz fine brown sugar
4oz sultanas (golden raisins)
2oz candied peel chopped
2oz crystallized ginger chopped
grated rind of one lemon (organic if you can)
grated rind of one orange (ditto)
2oz flaked almonds (I toasted these quite dark as I like that nutty flavour)...honestly though I think you can leave them out as I don't remember almonds in the puds from my childhood
1 tablespoon orange juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice (I added an extra tablespoon of lemon 'cos I like the tang of it against the dried fruit)
4 tablespoons brandy...I used port because it is all we had...bet you can use whiskey too - or 4 tablespoons of apple juice/cider/pomegranate juice/orange juice - your choice if you don't want to use alcohol.
10 fluid oz brown ale...or you can substitute apple juice/cider
Phew, I'm exhausted with typing already....the rest is easy though!!
Put everything dry into a nice big mixing bowl and mix well. Whisk the egg with orange and lemon juices, add brandy (port or whiskey) and finally brown ale, add the liquids to the dry bits and stir very well. Cover well and leave in a cool place, but not the fridge, for a few hours or overnight to help lighten the pudding. When you are ready to steam, spoon the mixture into greased pudding basins...one large one (2 and a half pint size) or a variety of small ones to give as gifts, put a circle of buttered paper on the top of each pud and then cover tightly with aluminium foil and put into a double steamer basket so the basins are not touching the water and steam the little darlings for about 3 hours, make sure you keep checking the water isn't getting too low.
Take puds out and let cool, then store away in a covered container til Christmas Day (again not the fridge) when you will retrieve them from their resting and maturing place and you steam them ,YES AGAIN, for about another three hours. You will end up with a delicious fruity, moist pudding which you decant from their basins, serve hot and slather in brandy butter which is a simple combination of butter (12 tbsps), brown sugar (1/4 cup) and 6 tablespoons of brandy...cream butter and sugar together until light, beat in brandy a little at a time...very simple, a little crunchy and oh so delicious on a Christmas Pud.....you can also do the traditonal lighting of the Pud by pouring a couple of tablespoons of brandy over the top of the pud and lighting it with a match...it burns off quite quickly and looks beautiful. Happy steaming!!