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. 
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