Saturday, December 29, 2012

I made Tea Babas!!

...and what, you may well ask, IS a TEA Baba - well my friends it is my own version of a Rum Baba - a delicious, elegant, sophisticated French raisin studded sponge soaked with rum syrup and swooned in clouds of Chantilly cream - I have exchanged the rum for tea and apple juice and I have to say I am impressed and very proud of myself for even attempting to make this 'pudding' as I have always assumed they would be really hard to make - they look complicated and they have yeast in and to be honest I am always thoroughly gobsmacked when I try a yeasted dessert and it turns out!! This one was really pretty easy - I have made it twice and it worked out both times - looked good and tasted GREAT!!!

I fell in love with Rum Babas when I was a teenager in Manchester, UK and some friends and I sneaked out of school - the Hollies FCJ in Didsbury, Didsbury being the hipper part of Manchester at the time - lovely houses, a neighbourhood I aspired to live in when I grew up - but that never happened - neither me growing up nor living there ha ha - the band was named after our school - honest - ANYWAY to run down to the delicatessen at the end of the road for tea and a baba - I think the cafe was called Mr. Marvels but I am not sure and a Google search revealed no confirmation.

On with the recipe!! - I used a brilliant one from "Baking with Julia" that worked first time - thanks Julia

First soak the raisins for a couple of hours:

1oz/1/3 cup raisins - soak in enough strong hot tea or cold rum to cover - depending which way you want to go with this treat - the tea is GOOD!!! I promise.

I did this amount the first go and it was good - the second try I doubled the amount because I like raisins and it was good also but I think it made the dough a little too wet and it didn't bake as evenly - it still worked out really well though so just decide how much you want in the raisin department :) 

DOUGH PART - have everything at room temperature - this makes 8 small toque shaped delights - I used a popover/dariole mould to bake them in and it worked perfectly - you could make 4 in bigger muffin tins or when I had them in Manchester they were made in small savarin moulds and the chantilly cream was piped into the centre.

3ozs/ 3/4 cup white flour
1 egg whisked
6 tablespoons body temperature water
 1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
 1 teaspoon sugar
2 oz/ 1/2 stick butter cut into small pieces and soft

1 tablespoon melted butter to coat moulds

METHOD:
1. Put warm water into a medium sized bowl and scatter the yeast and sugar across it's surface.

2. Blend in the whisked egg with a rubber or silicone spatula until just blended.

3. Add the sifted flour and blend gently for about 2 minutes until well mixed.

4. Now beat with a bit more intensity for about 8 minutes until totally smooth.

5. Add the well softened butter and mix gently only until incorporated.

6. This dough is VERY slippery and loose - don't be alarmed - it should look like this:
6. Cover the bowl with a tea towel soaked with hot water and wrung out and leave in a very warm but not directly hot place - ie the bowl should be surrounded by warmth but it shouldn't get hot to the touch - ambient warmth please - for about 15 minutes until the dough has risen slightly - it will not double and it doesn't look like bread rising at all - it's barely bubbly. If your house is cooler - I rise mine on the wood stove so it's warm!! - the rising will take longer so give it another 10 minutes or so.

Meantime drain the raisins and set aside. Keep the liquor from them for the syrup.

7. Brush your moulds with melted butter.

8. Add the raisins to the risen dough and mix just to blend with a rubber/silicone spatula.

The dough is very slippery and stringy as you see here.
9. Now the fun part - take spoonfuls or handfuls of the dough, I found using my hand easier, and try to drop into the moulds without getting it everywhere until moulds are half full - remember this is a slippy one - I didn't do such a great job but it's OK as they rise enough for everything to end up looking just fine.
10. Allow to rise in a warm place until they reach the top of the moulds - you don't need to cover them - should take about 30 minutes.

11. While they're rising heat the oven to 350F.

12. When risen pop in the oven - middle shelf and bake for about 25 minutes until well browned on top and easy to remove from the pan - mine weren't first time so I tried taking one out and when it wouldn't budge I put them back in for another 5 minutes - they should look like this when they come out:
 When baked to perfection allow to cool for a few minutes in the moulds then remove and put onto a cooling rack until completely cold. 
While waiting for the babas to cool MAKE THE SOAKING SYRUP: Julias recipe said to make twice this amount but I thought it was too much - if you like lots of syrup do make twice this amount.

4 fl ozs/1/2 cup tea and 4 fl ozs/1/2 cup apple juice
2 ozs/1/2 cup sugar

1. Heat together in a saucepan and reduce until it is nicely thickened - allow to cool.

NOW dip the babas into the syrup until coated evenly and allow to drain on the cooling rack - don't let them sit in the syrup - they'll get too soggy.

Whip yourself up some heavy/double cream with sugar to taste and pipe around your babas as you like - if you want more rum spoon a little over each baba before you serve and there you have it - fancy pants TEA Babas to impress your guests for New Year's Eve!!! 

This seems like an apropos 'pudding' for New Year's Eve as the name Baba refers to Ali Baba from The 1001 Arabian Nights - a favoured story of the desserts inventor King Stanislas Leszczynski of Poland.

HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and yours - do try this dessert - it's wonderful!!!


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Chocolate Chestnut Fondant Fancies


I have been fascinated by marrons glaces since I was a little girl in Manchester UK who was very lucky enough to have a Mother who worked at the Midland Hotel - an elaborate and fancy Edwardian Baroque edifice in the centre of the town - from whence she brought home divine petit fours - REAL petit fours made by great pastry chefs - they were fantastic - yes there were marrons glaces but also caramel coated orange slices - so simple and yet so brilliantly done - I remember their taste so clearly - and there were little cakes with crystallized violets and mimosas, what I think of as petit fours but which in England now appear to be called Fondant Fancies - I am quite quite certain this is where my fascination with all things confectionery began.

So making this recipe was sort of a pilgrimage for me - but not one that turned out so well - good but not great - I don't think I knew/know enough about the subtleties and intricacies of chestnuts - I have not worked with them before and there are 3 things I absolutely would do differently if I make this recipe again 1. I would consider buying the marrons glaces and chestnut cream 2. If I didn't do that I would boil instead of bake the chestnuts in preparation to use them - roasting them I think dried them out and they became hard in the finished cake but I'll give you the recipe as I did it and you can make up your own mind on how far you want to take it. Also - although the chestnut cream tasted very chestnutty and was worth the effort - when it went into the buttercream it didn't come off as that distinctive of a flavour so be warned and 3. I would make a whole cake instead of the fondant fancies - ie small petit fours cakes as you see in the photos - would have been much easier to do it as one whole cake.
Yes - that's a potato!!
Oh and yes this recipe has mashed potato in it - I love the idea of that - I have made cake before with mashed potatoes and really liked it and I thought the idea of smash in this Christmas recipe was a perfect concept considering I am in the state of Maine - a HUGE potato growing state - of course they were Maine potatoes I used.
   
...and I used Maine grown chestnuts too, starting with 8oz weight..first you need to cut an x on them - do this carefully - they are hard to hold whilst cutting - nestle them in a dish towel to do so as it helps them stop sliding around - if you don't cut an x they will explode in the oven and if you just spent a small fortune on them as I had you'll be very disappointed - I roasted them in a 425F for about 25 minutes until I think they were done but I don't know how you know and no one said what constitutes doneness in the roasting of said chestnuts - as I said above if I did this recipe again I would boil them instead and that would be for about 10 minutes, apparently the roasting makes the flavour bloom better but the boiling makes them softer - hmm - dilemma? - your call! 
 So - whether you boil or roast you need to skin them quickly - as soon as they are cool enough for you to handle - good luck with this - it is easy to break them and if you want to do your own marrons glace you want to keep them in tact.

To make marrons glace please follow these directions HERE from Not Quite Nigella

To make the chestnut cream for the buttercream and also in the cake:

4ozs shelled, roasted or boiled chestnuts
5 fl oz water
 4oz sugar
4 fl ozs half and half

1. Put all the above in a small saucepan and gently boil until almost all the liquid is absorbed - check to see if the chestnuts are soft but not falling apart - if they are still hard add some more water and simmer a little longer.

2. Allow to cool and puree in a blender, this took a while and did not end up completely smooth but I know chestnuts can be mealy so was this right or wrong - I have no real knowledge of this - it tasted goo though!! - set aside.

OR BUY YOURSELF a jar or can of chestnut cream which I don't think will taste as good but will surely save you time and heartache!

Please visit Histoire Sucre for beautiful marrons glace and chestnut spread

Another mistake I made was only pureeing half of this amount and thinking I was being clever chopped the rest to add to the cake batter - WRONG - they ended up becoming hard and chewy in the finished cake - I don't recommend this route!

Now for the cake: which I adapted from a recipe in Christmas Sweets and Holiday Treats by Allison Kyle Leopold for Caramel Glazed Chocolate Nougat Cake

INGREDIENTS: As usual have everything at room temperature and heat oven to 375F

4oz butter - I always use salted and I think salted works really well with the chestnut flavour
2 large eggs whisked together
7oz sugar  
2oz melted chocolate chips - I used semi sweet - keep warm and fluid or it won't work when you add to the cake batter - I let it cool too much and was not pleased with the chunks I got instead of a smooth blend :(
2oz roasted ground almonds
3oz creamed chestnuts
7oz flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4oz mashed potatoes
4 fl oz milk
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence/extract

Jam for spreading between the layers - I used plum which was a nice subtlety - you could use apricot for more flavour or fig if you have it.

METHOD:

Grease and line with parchment paper one 9" square pan if you are making the fondant fancies or one 9" round if you are just making a regular cake.

1. Sift all the dry ingredients together and set aside.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
3. Add the egg in about 4 goes and beat well between each addition - it may curdle - not to worry as you'll see in step 4.
4. Add the mashed potatoes and beat some more - now it's really going to look curdled and that's OK:
Looks like scrambled eggs - not to worry!!
5. Add the chocolate and vanilla essence/extract. 
6. Alternately add the dry ingredients with the milk in about 2 goes each until well combined and beat for one minute.
7. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth and bob into your pre heated oven. VOILA!!
8. Bake for about 35-45 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean from the centre of the cake - I overcooked as you can see part of the top of the cake caught a tad so keep your eyes peeled and start checking around 25 minutes.
9. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes in the pan and then invert on to a cooling tray - allow to cool completely.
10. Cut the edges off - now you have a great excuse to taste your cake :)
11. Mark your cake into sections (or leave whole in which case carefully cut in half laterally) - mine I cut into 5 x 5:
12. Top each of 10 squares with a scant teaspoon or so of warmed jam and place the other 10 pieces on top of each.
13. Now make your fondant topping - this stuff is GOOD!!!!!! If you don't make the rest of the recipe do make this - it would be great on everything from cake to ice cream - it's very very good!!

In the top of a double boiler melt together:
4oz chocolate - again I used semi sweet
2oz butter  again I use salted
6 tablespoons icing/confectioner's sugar
4 tablespoons water
 .....then spread over the top of the stacked cakes whilst still warm:

This actually proved to be quite tricky - the fondant topping sets quite quickly and holding the cake whilst trying to cover it with fondant and get it to trickle gracefully down the sides was quite the struggle - I was going to coat the whole cakes but forget that - just the top was enough for me - and there I was wondering why in the last series of The Great British Bake Off everyone was having trouble coating their fondant fancies - now I know why!! To see Mary Berry's Fondant Fancies click HERE

For the buttercream:
4oz salted butter
4oz icing/confectioners sugar
Balance of chestnut cream

1. Cream butter until light and fluffy
2. Slowly add in sugar to taste
3. Cream in the chestnut cream bit by bit - it may begin to look a little curdled so go slowly and see how much can go in before it turns curdled - you can always add more sugar if it does curdle and see if you can bring it back.

You are ready to assemble your Fondant Fancies: pipe buttercream atop the cake stacks and top with a marrons glaces either made or purchased :) If you don't want to go the chestnut route you could do all almonds with marzipan instead of the chestnut cream or hazelnuts and marzipan too - I like the sounds of the hazelnut myself. All in all this was a good recipe if a little tedious but not as exotic or different as I had hoped.
Here's a LINK to a similar but different chocolate chestnut cake that has chestnut flour too. 

HAPPY BAKING!!!
This post is part of the February Chocolate Tea Time Treats blog hop hosted by Lavender and Lovage and The Hedgecombers:
Lavender and Lovage

Friday, December 21, 2012

Ayuh - it's Christmas time in Maine!

Ayuh!! Merry Christmas from Maine!
..and what does Ayuh mean? Well - here's a couple of definitions from the Urban Dictionary:

1. A word used to end a statement; in a Maine accent.
2. A word used to confirm a statement; in a Maine accent.

 Let's go ta the faya, ayuh.
 
I'm a Mainuh, ayuh.
 
Wanna go ta the faya?
Answer: Ayuh
I'll admit to be a tad tardy creating my new Maine snowman but I'll have him all set to go next year, won't I? I originally created the little guy as a greeting card for a company in Maine but as a Cape Cod card for the Christmas Tree shops who were based in Cape Cod and at the time I was living there too. It originally had a border of cranberries and recently methought - "he also looks like a Maine snowman with his lobster trap, so'wester and the little lighthouse so why don't I change out the cranberries for blueberries" and so I did using elements from this design, which was created to be on t-shirts printed by Seastreet Graphics in Rockland, Maine, for the border motifs.

Whereas I used to live near cranberry bogs in Cape Cod I now live next to a blueberry barren in Maine so my botanical subjects are gratefully close at hand.

My snowman is awfully small compared to "Olympia Snowe" - the largest, thusfar, snowperson in the World - isn't she cute? With skis for eyelashes and fir trees as arms she stood a proud feet tall in Bethel Maine in 2008 - click HERE for more fetching images of our grand old snow lady.

 Here's my snowman from a couple of years ago - not quite fir trees for arms but small branches from the spruce in the front yard.
Snow is thin on the ground in Midcoast Maine at the moment - it's blowin' a gale and raining right now - and a white Christmas is not looking so promising but it'll always be beautiful here anyways :) 

You can purchase my Maine snowman as greetings cards HERE and a mini poster HERE.

Thanks and have yourself a Merry Little Christmas!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Pretty Bittersweet Steamed Chocolate Orange Pudding


I've wanted to make this pudding for quite some time mostly because it is SO pretty and despite the fact that I am not a big chocolate lover - I like it don't get me wrong I just don't love or crave it the way so many people do - I am sure there is something missing in my personality to be thus but I accept my burden humbly. Many times when you see a recipe in a magazine or book, I have found, to my dismay, that they rarely, if ever, come out in my kitchen the way they do so perfectly in the photographs but I have to say this time I was pretty impressed with myself and you will be too - with yourself I mean - if you also make this pudding. It is a delightfully moist little number and although it looks fudgy and wet like a flourless chocolate cake in the close up below it is not like that or indeed like a regular steamed pudding - it' not spongey or cakey but it is dense AND light and crumbly because of the almonds - the oranges make it DIVINE - they are lightly marmaladey and not too bitter - they were the winner in this pudding for me. This recipe is from British Country Living magazine January 2011 - the article is by Clarissa Hyman and recipes by Alison Walker.

Always read the recipe through first - this one takes a couple of hours total - have everything at the ready - your steamer bubbling delightfully and all the ingredients at room temperature as that makes for easier creaming and less curdling of the batter.

Serves 6 easily.

Prepare the orange slices first:
One thin skinned orange cut into thinnish (1/4" 5mm or a little less) slices.

4 fl ozs/125mls water

4oz/125 sugar

I found the easiest way to do this was in a big frying pan where I could have all the slices on the same level - I tried a couple of saucepans but then the slices were on top of one another - so try a big frying pan first.
1. Dissolve the sugar in the water - boil gently for a couple of minutes and then add the slices.

2. Simmer gently for 15 minutes. 

3. Remove the slices and allow to cool completely and reserve the liquid for pouring over the finished pudding.

GATHER ONE'S INGREDIENTS:
6oz/175g butter - you know I always use Kate's which has tons of goodly flavour

6oz/175g sugar

3 eggs whisked

4 1/2oz/125g plain white flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 oz/35g cocoa powder (the recipe said 2oz/50g but I reduced that because as I mentioned I'm not a big chocolate personage but you can go for the bigger amount if you want :))

3oz toasted almonds ground - toast for about 8 minutes in a 350f oven until browned and fragrant - taste one carefully and see if it tastes toasted - and keep an eye on them because they catch fast - allow to cool COMPLETELY and grind as suggested below. 

2 tablespoons whole milk

To grind your almonds yourself: In a coffee grinder place a handful of the COLD almonds and a couple of tablespoons of the already measured flour and then grind to a powder - if you do the almonds by themselves in the grinder they will become greasy and not grind to a goodly powder - the addition of the flour really helps this process!

METHOD: 
1. Grease a pudding bowl - mine measures 7 1/2" across by 4" high and was well big enough - I only have a domed one but it worked fine - you can see in the British Country Living pic they used a 'proper' pudding bowl that has a flat top. 

2.Line the bottom of the bowl with greased parchment paper:
 3. Arrange the cooled orange slices in the bowl thus:
 
4. Commence making the pudding!

5. Sift all the dry ingredients together and set aside.

6. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

7. To stop the mix from curdling add the eggs in batches and beat well between additions - if it does curdle which it might as this is a lot of eggs do not fear the mix will come back together when you add the dry ingredients :)

8. Fold in the dry ingredients and then the 2 tablespoons of milk and incorporate well:
8. Put a couple of big tablespoons of the chocolate yumminess on top of the orange slices gently and spread to fill the cracks:
9. Then add the rest of the batter and smooth.

10. Now cut a large circle of parchment/greaseproof paper big enough to cover the bowl and go down the sides by an inch or so then cover tightly with aluminium foil and secure with an elastic band then tie with string as the picture leaving long ends for easy putting into and taking out of the steamer!:
11. Now put into a double steamer basket and steam the little darling for about 1 1/2 hours and make sure you keep checking the water isn't getting too low.
(Make your custard whilst the pudding is steaming)
12. Remove the pudding with the string and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before turning out onto your serving plate: 
Pat yourself on the back because it looks so good!!

12. Put the orange syrup back on the stove and simmer until nice and thick - if you go too far you can always add a little water and bring it back to syrupy - but don't burn it which is easy to do - and pour over the pudding.
It looks wet and fudgy but it isn't - it's moist and crumbly!

Add lashings of Chocolate Custard!!

For 6 you may want to double this recipe :)

CHOCOLATE CUSTARD SAUCE 

10fl oz/1 1/4 cups of whole milk
1 heaped tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 whole large egg and 1 large egg yolk whisked together
3 ozs chocolate chips


1. Beat together the egg, egg yolk, vanilla and sugar together in a bowl.
 
2. Heat the milk to almost boiling and add in the chocolate and whisk until melted.
 
3. Stir a little of the hot milk into the egg mix and then a bit more to temper the temperature.

4. The add the egg/sugar/milk chocolate mix back into the warmed milk in the pan and stir until it thickens - you must stir the custard constantly and do not leave it alone until it is finished or it will curdle whilst you are not looking and you will have to start again. SO stir and stir and stir with a wooden spoon until it starts to thicken and coats the back of the spoon ...you take the spoon out of the custard, turn the spoon over, run your finger through the custard and if the line doesn't fill back in it is ready, don't let it cook too long or get too hot as the eggs will start to turn into scrambled eggs and the sauce will be grainy.....take off the heat immediately and continue to stir. 

You can eat this pudding hot - which is how it is meant to be - or cold which is how I prefer it - the oranges are WONDERFUL and I want to try a blond version of this soon. Personally I think the chocolate custard was too much and I would go with regular and if you want to do that you just leave out the chocolate chips and do the recipe the same.

Happy STEAMING and do let me know if you make this pudding - you can post pics on my Facebook page

Yesterday was the perfect day to steam a pudding - it was FRIGID in Maine - about 20F and snowing lightly - today however is warm and mild and raining 50f ish.

Here are pics from yesterday - I think the bittersweet pic is apropos, no?


The snowy lane down to Blueberry Hill
 


  


Sunday, November 25, 2012

A New England Christmas Pudding for Stir Up Sunday

Will you join me on my somewhat experimental journey this Stir Up Sunday the traditional day for making your Christmas Pudding in times past - let's revive the tradition I say!! - and make a slightly different Christmas Pudding which I am calling New England Christmas Pudding because of the addition of cranberry sauce and pumpkin puree - although to be fair Brits do eat cranberry sauce by the bucket load at Christmas but with it being so close to Thanksgiving I feel these ingredients have a more American bent. I haven't made this pudding before so I won't be able to tell you how it comes out or tastes until Christmas Day itself. If you'd like a more traditional pudding I did one a few years ago HERE or Auntie Beeb (The BBC) has a good recipe too - right HERE. Having looked at quite the number of Christmas Pudding recipes over the last couple of weeks I have to tell you white flour is about the only consistent ingredient - oh and sugar but other than that there are recipes with breadcrumbs, figs, prunes, raisins, with eggs, without eggs, with apples, potatoes, carrots and on and on - they do all get the living daylights steamed out them though and that seems to be the key to their rich and dense nature. I have adapted this recipe from one I found on Pinterest from Babble Food I have added grated ginger and nutmeg and garam masal - a trick I found from Passionate About Baking when Deeba added it to her Fruit Cake a couple of years ago - a rich and fragrant spice that is perfectly suited to the exotic nature of a Christmas Cake or Pudding whose spicy additions help 'keep' the cake over it's month of maturing. So off we go. 

Firstly you will need to soak 3oz/1/2 cup of raisins in 3 fluid ounces of hot strong tea or apple juice for about 5 hours until they are nice and plump.

Now have a double boiler bubbling away ready to receive your lovely pudding.

INGREDIENTS: 
6oz/1 1/2 cups of white plain flour
7oz/1 cup of sugar - white or brown your choice
2 eggs beaten
2oz/2 tablespoons butter melted
4oz/ 1/2 cup cranberry relish/sauce/compote - I made my own recipe below below
4oz/ 1/2 cup pumpkin puree - I did my own from a pie pumpkin - I find it is less watery.
Pie pumpkin ready for steaming - you steam with the skin on - something I learned the hard way when I spent hours making my first pumpkin pie due to peeling a very large pumpkin before steaming and making my hands so sore - when it it soft you can so easily scoop the flesh from the skin - DUH!!!!
 1oz candied peel - I did my own that's why it looks a little grey and not bright orange like the commercial stuff - but that's OK for this recipe, I mean the commercial stuff, you don't have to make your own.
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon of garam masala - you don't have to use this if you don't want - you can use 1 teaspoon of cloves or mace.
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt.
Tea soaked raisins, homemade candied orange peel, homemade cranberry relish, fresh ginger and nutmeg - YUM!!
1. Sift and swish all the dry ingredients together.

2. Mix all the wet ingredients together.

3. Mix the wet into the dry in batches until well blended.

That was hard!!!

4. Pour the batter into a greased basin that is about 5" high and 7" diameter - or you could use 2 smaller ones to the same effect - same amount of time steaming.

5. Cover well and leave in a cool place, but not the fridge, for a few hours or overnight to help lighten the pudding.
6. When you are ready to steam put a circle of buttered paper on the top of each pud and then cover tightly with aluminium foil and tie with string leaving long ends for easy putting into and taking out of the steamer!
Now put into a double steamer basket so the basin/s 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.

7. 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 traditional 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!!
Nice bright Cranberry relish made from Maine cranberries - yea!!
Apparently cranberry growing is back on the rise in Maine - HERE are some cranberry facts from the Ricker Hill website.
6oz fresh cranberries
2.5 fl oz/ 1/4 cup apple juice/cider (not alcoholic cider)
2.5 fl oz/ 1/4 cup maple syrup
1 garlic clove (yes I put garlic in the pudding - you can leave it out if you like but I thought I'd be really daring)
2oz/ 14 cup sugar
2.5 fl oz/ 1/4 cup water
 
Put all the above into a small saucepan and cook until thick and red and lovely - allow to cool before using in your pudding. 
 As you can see I am working on some Christmas ideas and my handmade felt snowman and Santa are lounging around whilst I make my pudding.
Let me know if you venture with me on my Christmas Pudding SHEAnanigans:)

For those of an even more adventurous spirit here's another recipe from the book "Good Things from England" by Florence White - I am intrigued and may make this one soon too.

VEGETABLE PLUM PUDDING from Miss Mary Smith

INGREDIENTS:
4ozs potatoes peeled and grated (that's a good start for me - love my spuds I do!!)
4ozs carrots
3oz sugar
4oz mixed currants and raisins
3oz suet but you can probably use butter
1/2 oz candied peel 
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
A little milk if necessary

METHOD:
Same as above for buttering pudding basin, having steamer ready etc.
1. Mix everything but the egg and milk together and then blend in the egg and a little milk to make a loose batter and proceed as for above.
I'll let you know if I make it :) 
Happy Baking, or rather steaming! - Patricia

Here's a slice of said pudding with a big old dollop of brandy butter melting on top - tastes so much more appetizing than this picture looks :)
By the way you will notice there are no plums in my Christmas Pudding and there are usually no plums in most of them these days - I have heard two different explanations for this - either they were originally made with prunes which are dried plums OR the word plum was used latterly for expensive or excellent - of the best quality. Whichever is it we may never know but I would like to make one with prunes - that sounds awfully good to me.