I’ve been making traditional Christmas pudding from scratch for years. I can’t say I have never missed a year as holidays been pretty upside down at times, so there’s probably been a couple of occasions over the last 25 years when I haven’t. But mostly, I’ve somehow managed to pull it off.
What’s interesting to me is what I can/can’t get in the different places that we’ve lived. There are so many ingredients in a Christmas pudding recipe that its pretty certain wherever I am (except for the UK) you can’t get something…so you have to leave it out, find a substitute or make it yourself.
Assembling the ingredients for the pudding. This is only about half of it. Amazingly I found sherry in one of the little stores around our house. The liquor store guy probably couldn’t believe his luck that some crazy foreigner bought it! Now…what else do I need to find……?
Here in Kathmandu, the issue was Guinness and lard. I’d put money on the fact that you can get Guinness somewhere around here but I didn’t have the time to go look, so I substituted Tuborg Gold that we had in the fridge and added a tablespoon of molasses for colour. Lard was another problem. I’ve made it myself before from scratch in the States (where you can’t get in over the counter) but that was by rendering beef fat. Here cows wander the streets, not the butcher shops, so the only feasible substitute was mutton fat. My Didi (helper) headed out to find my enough mutton fat to do the job and I showed her how to render it in the oven to make lard. Its a bit icky and a whole other story, but if you’re interested you can read about it here. She did a good job. After a couple of hours we had more than enough fresh lard to make Christmas puddings for the next five years.
Vast quantities of lard ready to use!
Why lard you ask? Lard gives a much lighter, less greasy pudding. I’ve tried it with butter before, but butter is no substitute. It gives a heavy, greasy pudding. It has to be lard.
Most of the work is in gathering the ingredients. Once you have them its just a matter of mixing them all together and then boiling the mixture in a pudding dish for eight hours. If anyone is interested in the actual recipe, I’ll include it at the bottom.
Mixing the dry ingredients: breadcrumbs, grated lard, spices…
..then add carrots, apples, lemons, oranges and dried fruit. Last in: eggs, beer, and sherry.
The mixed ingredients go into a greased glass or china bowl. An aluminum “hat” is tied on and the bowl is placed in about 3 inches of water on a trivet in a large saucepan. Steam for eight hours.
Pudding ready to lowered into the trivet and bath
Before boiling, the pudding is light in colour. At the end it will be a deep dark brown like the traditional picture at the beginning.
After its cooled down, remove the aluminum hat and replace it with a new, clean one. Store in a cool place until Christmas Day. To serve, steam again for 3-4 hrs.
Christmas Pudding ( by Delia Smith)
4oz shredded suet
2oz self-raising flour, sifted
4oz fresh, white breadcrumbs,
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
1/4 level teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
good pinch ground cinnamon
8oz soft, dark brown sugar
1oz mixed candied peel (I substitute marmalade)
1oz almonds, skinned and chopped
1 small cooking apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
grated zest and juice of one orange
grated zest and juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons rum
2 oz guinness or stout
2 large eggs
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