I made the Christmas Pudding about a month ago. I use a Marguerite Patten recipe from the December 1986/January 1987 edition of BBC Good Food Magazine.
The recipe has evolved over the years, but I us the recipe because I wanted to make a round Christmas Pudding like in all the pictures on Christmas cards and in films, and the quantities and texture is just right. I got the mould from Boots in 1986 and I’ve been using it ever since.
Recipe for Christmas Pudding
100g/4oz soft breadcrumbs
50g/2oz plain flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground allspice
50g/2oz butter melted
100g/4oz moist brown sugar
75g/3oz grated cooking apple
50g/2oz carrot, finely grated
75g/3oz dried apricots finely chopped
50g/2oz dried prunes finely chopped
100g/4oz mixed crystallised peel, finely chopped
100g/4oz almonds finely chopped
75g/3oz glace cherries, quartered
1 teaspoon each finely grated lemon and orange zest
½ tablespoon each of lemon and orange juice
1 level tablespoon black treacle
1 tablespoon brandy
2 large eggs
150ml/¼ pint ale or stout (if you want a firmer pudding or are making a round one use 75ml)
I use ginger, mixed spice and cinnamon for the spices
No-one likes peel so I use 6oz dried apricots and 6oz glace cherries
I never use treacle, dark brown sugar has a treacley flavour but not too strong
I don’t use the chopped almonds as some people don’t like nuts
The instructions in the magazine say “mix all the ingredients together in a big bowl, cover and leave overnight”. In my experience it’s better to mix the dried fruit and apple and carrot in the big bowl first, then mix the flour with the spices and breadcrumbs and sugar in another bowl and mix this in to the fruit. Then add the lemon and orange zest. I melt the butter then add the brandy and stout to it, then the eggs and mix together and use this to bind all the rest of the ingredients.
After leaving overnight the cooking begins.
The recipe says there’s enough mixture to use 2 1.5l (2 1/2 pint) basins. If you want a firm pudding squash the mixture in tightly or less tight for a more crumbly pudding. Leave at least 2.5cm of space at the top of the basin to allow pudding to rise. Then cover the puddings with greaseproof paper which has been greased on both sides, then with foil. Put a central pleat in both coverings to allow the pudding to rise, then secure with string.
I make one round pudding and a smaller one in a pint basin.
Steam the puddings for 5-6 hours in a steamer, pan or fish kettle, keeping the water topped up. When cooked remove the covers and allow to cool completely before covering the basins with fresh greaseproof paper and foil. Store in a cool, dry place and on Christmas Day, steam for another 2-3 hours.
The magazine states that microwave puddings are not as good, but I microwave the smaller one and I have never had any complaints. It only takes about 6 minutes to cook. I have to steam the round one as the mould is made of metal, but I microwave it on a plate on Christmas Day for about 3-4 minutes and it’s perfectly cooked.