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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Pudding

For those away from home the build up to festive periods often brings about a little homesickness and the wish to reach out to those in far away lands. One way to help fill the gap is to surround oneself with distant sounds and smells that evoke memories of times past. For this particular exile this usually takes to form of food and drink :)

With Christmas fast approaching the advent of a rainy weekend brought about the perfect opportunity to indulge in the preparation of one of my particular favourites, Christmas pudding…..Irish style!!!

A wide and varied recipe search amalgamated with memories of recipes past brought about the following concoction:

170g self-raising flour (if you can get Odlums, excellent!!!)
225g white breadcrumbs (slightly old will do)
340g dark brown sugar (muscovado is best)
450g currants
225g raisins
225g sultanas
115g mixed peel
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
115g glace/maraschino cherries, quartered
55g ground almonds
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
1 grated apple – skin on (preferably granny smith)
1 tbsp dark treacle
225g grated suet (or melted margarine or butter…margarine was used in this case) + more for greasing
3 eggs
90ml Irish Whiskey (Jameson here)
300ml Guinness

For the adventurous a couple of drops of Tabasco sauce add a nice little departure from tradition. If in doubt, perhaps best to leave out :)

Mix the dry ingredients together, thoroughly. Then add the wet, again mixing thoroughly.

Tradition has it that everyone in the household takes a turn at mixing; going it alone will soon expose the wisdom behind this particular tradition :)

The consistency should be wet (see above). Add more Guinness/Whiskey if not wet enough…more breadcrumbs if you go too far the other way.

When finished grease a couple of one litre/circa two pound pudding bowls, filling each to just under the rim with the mixture. Take a big piece of grease proof paper, fold in half and then fold back on one side leaving a 50mm flap in the middle. Do the same with tin foil. Place the grease proof paper over one of the bowls, taking some kitchen string to tie it tightly in place under the rim.

Repeat with the tin foil by placing it over the grease proof paper. Finally tie a string handle to the outer string; this is used to lift the pudding in and out of the steamer.

Repeat the above process for the second bowl.

Now for the easy bit. With the Whiskey and Guinness still within arms reach have a toast to the puddings….just one mind you!

Back to work!! Place each pudding in its own pot, add boiling water to three quarters the depth of the pudding bowl and place a tight fitting lid on the pot. Simmer for between six and eight hours.

When done lift the puddings from the pots, set aside and allow to cool.

If you can’t wait until Christmas then a sneak preview can be had by slicing the “muffin top” from over the top of each pudding.

Repeat the grease proof paper and tin foil steps again and stow away safely.

On the day itself the puddings will need to be steamed again, only for two hours this time. When done remove the puddings from the pudding bowls (upside down on a plate…to state the obvious).

Serve flaming (more whiskey), with your choice of cream, custard or brandy butter.


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Scribe's Notes

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So from the diversely abstract to the intensely specific, it's off to making tracks, and it is here where it stops for a thought or two.

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