” But now, the plates being changed by Miss Belinda, Mrs Cratchit left the room alone — too nervous to bear witnesses — to take the pudding up, and bring it in.
Suppose it should not be done enough! Suppose it should break in turning out! Suppose somebody should have got over the wall of the back-yard, and stolen it, while they were merry with the goose: a supposition at which the two young Cratchits became livid! All sorts of horrors were supposed.
Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. A smell like a washing-day! That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastrycook’s next door to each other, with a laundress’s next door to that! That was the pudding. In half a minute Mrs Cratchit entered: flushed, but smiling proudly: with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.
Oh, a wonderful pudding! Bob Cratchit said, and calmly too, that he regarded it as the greatest success achieved by Mrs Cratchit since their marriage. Mrs Cratchit said that now the weight was off her mind, she would confess she had had her doubts about the quantity of flour. Everybody had something to say about it, but nobody said or thought it was at all a small pudding for a large family. It would have been flat heresy to do so. Any Cratchit would have blushed to hint at such a thing.”
–Chapter 3, A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickins
- 2 cups mixed sultanas, currants and raisins
- ⅓ cup chopped mixed dried fruit
- ⅛ cup mixed peel
- ¼ cup brown ale
- 1 tbsp rum or brandy)
- 1.5 tbsp of orange juice
- 1.5 tbsp of lemon juice
- 112.5g of grated suet or frozen butter (I replaced this with frozen butter. If the block of butter starts to soften as you grate it, pop it back in the freezer for several more minutes. Mix it into the bowl as you grate)
- ½ cup soft brown sugar
- 2 beaten eggs
- 1¼ cups breadcrumbs
- ⅓ cup self raising flour
- ½ tsp mixed spice
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ⅓ cup chopped almonds
- a pinch of salt
- butter, for greasing
- In a large bowl mix together the sultanas, currants and raisins mix, chopped mixed dried fruit, mixed peel, brown ale, rum or brandy, orange juice and lemon juice.
- Stir together, cover with cling wrap and leave overnight to soak
- Add in the grated suet or frozen butter, soft brown sugar, beaten eggs, breadcrumbs, self raising flour, mixed spice, ground nutmeg, chopped almonds and a pinch of salt.
- If the mixture is too stiff, add in more ale.
- To steam a pudding, take a large saucepan, place in a trivet, or in our case a low overturned metal veggie steamer, and place the pudding basin on top (without the pudding in yet!).
- Fill the saucepan with water until it reaches halfway up the outside of the pudding basin.
- Remove the pudding basin and put the saucepan over high heat to let the water begin to boil.
- Grease the pudding basin with butter and pour in the pudding mixture.
- With a wet spoon, smooth the top of the mixture.
- On the kitchen counter, layer baking paper and foil together.
- Create a pleat down the centre, about 3 cm.
- Cover the pudding basin with this layer of baking paper and foil and secure with kitchen string (unwaxed). Any excess can be snipped off. This will ensure water and steam doesn't sneak into the pudding (if this does happen, after it's been cooked, I pop the basin into the oven to remove some of the excess moisture for a few minutes).
- It's also recommended to use the string to tie a loop on the top of the pudding basin, so you can lower the basin into the boiling water with a wooden spoon, keeping your fingers away from the boiling water.
- With the basin in the water on the trivet, turn down the heat to a low simmer, place on the pot's lid and let cook for 1.5 hours. Check with a skewer. If cooked, it'll come out clean. If not, continue to cook.
- Once finished, turn off heat, remove pudding basin from water and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Invert onto a plate and serve.
- To light up the pudding (for display), make an indent in the top of the pudding with your fingers. When you are ready to bring the pudding in for your guests, pour in 80 proof alcohol (rum, brandy etc) and light the alcohol. Note (as I found out) that the flame will be blue only (no flickers of yellow and orange flame), and ready can only be seen in a darkened room. Which also means be careful as you might not realise it's alight!
Recipe adapted from 'The Essential Christmas Cookbook' (Murdoch Books)