No Christmas feast would be complete without the ultimate sweet embodiment of the festive season that is the traditional Christmas pudding. Packed with fragrant spices and dried fruit, this rich dessert is soaked in brandy and ritualistically set alight at the dining table. The dish has origins in medieval times and is sometimes known as plum pudding, even though it doesn’t actually contain any plums. The name instead deriving from the pre-Victorian use of the word “plums” as a term for raisins.
Then, to wash down your pudding, nothing could be more Christmassy than a glass of warm spiced mulled wine. The spicy aroma and sweet, fruity flavours make this practically taste like Christmas in a glass and it’s the perfect remedy when you have just come in from the cold!
Traditional Christmas Pudding
Makes 2 large or 4 small puddings:
You will need:
4oz/110g plain flour
8oz/225 golden caster sugar
4oz/110g white breadcrumbs
2oz/55g flaked almonds
4oz/110g candied peel, chopped
1 lemon, zest only
5 well-beaten eggs
1 level tsp mixed spice
1 level tsp ground cinnamon
1 level tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt
5 fl oz/150 ml brandy or rum
Lightly grease four 1 pt/600ml or two 2pt/1.2litre pudding bowls.
Mix together all the dry ingredients.
Add the eggs and brandy and mix thoroughly. Spoon into the bowls. Put a circle of baking paper and foil over the top of each bowl and tie securely with string.
Attach string handles to the previous string fastenings so you can lift the bowls up by them (pictured above).
Put the bowls in a large steamer and cover with a lid. Boil for 5-6 hrs, occasionally topping up the water if necessary. If you don’t have a steamer, put upturned saucers into a large pan and place the bowls on top. Pour boiling water in up to a third of the way up the sides of the bowls. Cover and steam as above.
Leave to cool.
Replace the baking paper and foil with fresh ones and tie up as before.
Store in a cool cupboard until Xmas.
On Christmas Day steam for 2 hours and serve with brandy butter, fresh cream, ice cream, or custard.
Festive Spiced Mulled Wine
You will need:
1 bottle of red wine
2 cinnamon sticks
4 star anise
2 oranges, sliced
2 lemons, sliced
100g/3½oz brown sugar
Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer gently for 6-8 minutes, without boiling.
Alternatively, if you have a slow cooker, add all the ingredients to it and cook on low until warm (1-2 hours, depending on your cooker).
To serve, pour the mulled wine into heatproof glasses.