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Ruth’s Plum Pudding

 

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Why, you may ask, am I writing a post about plum pudding in March?  Plum pudding or Christmas pudding, is of course eaten at Christmas. This lovely pudding was made by Ruth S, and indeed was eaten by this quirky writer on Christmas day. I have just been given the recipe, very kindly, by Ruth, and couldn’t wait another month, let alone nine, before sharing it!

And anyway, who says that you can’t make this pudding at other times in the year? For us in the southern hemisphere, Christmas in July is big, when we can enjoy lovely hot wintery fare when the season is right. And if you are super organized, you could always start your 2016 Christmas baking now!

Ruth makes these lovely plum puddings every year, supported by St Alban’s Church Epping, where over 400 puddings are made and the proceeds from the sale are given to three charities, over $4500 to each. It’s a great initiative for charity, and the lucky recipients of the puddings have something really yummy on Christmas Day.

Why the name “plum pudding,” as the pudding appears to contain no actual plums? The pudding, however, does contain a lot of prunes, which are of course, plums.

Here is Ruth’s recipe as given to me.  Her mother first made it in 1973 and the original recipe is attributed to the Dried Fruits Board of NSW. She has some very useful tips for both experienced and inexperienced pudding makers.

Ingredients

250g/8oz butter

250g/8oz sugar

350g/12oz small or chopped raisins

350g/12oz sultanas

250g/8oz currants

175g/6oz chopped prunes

175g/6oz mixed peel

85g/3oz almond pieces/slivers

½ tsp  nutmeg

½ tsp mixed spice

125g/4oz plain flour

125g/4oz soft breadcrumbs

½ cup Stout or orange juice

½ cup  brandy

140mls/1/4 pint milk

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

1 large carrot grated

Method

Cream butter and sugar. Whisk in eggs one at a time. Add flour and spices. Add fruit, carrot, breadcrumbs and liquids together and stir well. I use a gloved hand rather than a spoon to make sure it is well mixed.

I now use the metric version but give the British version too!

If breadcrumbs are hard to grate, and you have a food processor, just put chunks of bread into the processor. It goes well put into the liquids and whizzed although it looks terrible!

Mixture does not look well homogenised and is quite wet. That’s fine!

It makes one huge pudding that you steam for 6 hours or two small ones that take 3 hours.

When I make the 800g ones, this mixture makes two 800g ones plus one of about 450-480g.

I generally cook small quantities such as this in the microwave oven. Place basin in oven loosely covered with lid or plastic wrap. Cook 800g pudding on second level of power – never the full power – for 8 minutes. If cooking whole quantity in one huge basin, cook at say, third power level for 20 minutes, but do it for a bit longer if it does not look quite cooked.

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Christmas Pudding Strudel

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This was my Twelfth Night dessert on January 6 2015. I celebrated the Twelfth Night of Christmas with a group of my old uni friends and a few others. I wanted to make something Christmassy but we were all over Christmas cake, pudding and trifle.

I had been fascinated by one of Jamie Oliver’s Christmas specials in which he created a Christmas Pudding strudel. It’s basically layers of filo pastry, filled with grated apple, pear or quince, crumbled Christmas pudding and a surprise chocolate centre.

This is a delicious way of using left over Christmas pudding. I had made a lovely rum and pineapple Christmas pud (see here) for Christmas day, along with an ice cream version. The pineapple one was very big, and so we had heaps left over. Now seemed the appropriate time to try Jamie’s recipe!

I used grated pear in my strudel. I think in retrospect I could have done with less filo layers – 12 all up was a bit much! The chocolate centre was a hit plus lots of demerara sugar on top gave a great crunch.

Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Pudding Strudel

Ingredients

12 sheets filo pastry (if frozen, thaw)

125 g butter, melted

1 teaspoon ground  cinnamon

100 g demerara sugar + more for dusting when serving

4 ginger nut biscuits

400 g leftover Christmas pudding

3 apples or pears or 2 quinces or a mixture of the three

50 g good-quality chocolate, roughly chopped

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan forced.  Lay out 6 sheets of filo pastry on a clean tea towel, overlapping each by an inch or so, so they cover the tea towel.
The filo should cover the tea towel completely, with just a little overhang at one of the shorter ends.

Work quickly so your pastry doesn’t dry out and brush some melted butter all over it. Sprinkle over the cinnamon and 50 g of the sugar, then crumble over your ginger nut biscuits to add crunch. Carefully layer the rest of the pastry sheets on top and brush again with butter.

Use your hands to crumble the Christmas pudding into a bowl then grate in the fruit, everything except the cores. (Jamie says to use the cores  – I don’t think you need them.) You want to have about the same amount of grated fruit as you’ve got pudding. Add about 2 tablespoons of sugar, and mix it all together to break up the pudding a bit more. Sprinkle this all over the pastry so it’s roughly covered, leaving the overhang clear. Place the chocolate in a row on top of the Christmas pudding, down the short side nearest the overhang.

Fold the overhang over the chocolate and pinch it up, then lift up your tea towel, and use it to help you carefully roll up your strudel. Tuck the ends under to seal it and transfer to a large nonstick baking tray. Brush it all over with butter then sprinkle over a little more sugar. If it looks a bit rough, you could wrap an extra layer of filo round it before cooking to make it neater. Bake in the hot oven for about 40 minutes until crisp and golden. You may get a split once cooked – I agree with Jamie that that would add to the rustic effect!

Leave to cool, then use a serrated knife to cut the strudel into 5 cm slices.

Note: This recipe makes quite a large strudel. The photos were taken AFTER my Twelfth Night celebration – what was left is about half of the original.

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A Tale of Two Puddings

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For Christmas lunch  2014 I couldn’t decide between a traditional Christmas pudding and the Jamie Oliver Christmas bombe, see here for his recipe. I made the latter a couple of years ago and Quirky Sister the Elder made a special request for its return this year.  As one Christmas pudding is never enough, I made both!
The hot pudding is a tropical take on the classic as it’s filled with pineapple and rum… yum. The Christmas bombe is pudding shaped and filled with panettone, ice cream and glacé fruit and alcohol, finished with a dark chocolate glaze. Both are delicious!

Pineapple Christmas Pudding

I found this recipe in a little book of pudding recipes published by the Women’s Weekly, which I have had for many years.

Ingredients
450g can of pineapple (crushed or pieces) in syrup – crushed  gives a smoother texture, pieces gives you chunks of pineapple.
250g butter, chopped
200g firmly packed brown sugar
250g sultanas
250g raisins
125g dried currants
100g glace cherries
4 eggs, lightly beaten
110g plain flour
110g self raising flour
35g stale breadcrumbs

Rum Syrup
110g sugar
125 ml rum

Method

Grease a 2 litre pudding bowl.

Drain pineapple well, reserve 125ml of pineapple syrup. Place pineapple on absorbent paper, pat dry. Combine butter and sugar in large pan; stir over medium heat without boiling, until sugar is dissolved.

To make Rum Syrup, add sugar to small saucepan, heat gently, stirring until sugar is dissolved and browned. Carefully add rum and reserved pineapple syrup. Mixture will bubble. Continue stirring until the toffee like mixture dissolves. Stir in half the Rum Syrup to butter and sugar mixture and bring to the boil, then remove from heat. Stir in all the fruit and pineapple; cool to room temperature. The rest of the Rum Syrup can be used to make a sauce for the pudding or added to cakes or muffins as a flavouring.

Place the fruit mixture in a large bowl. Stir in eggs, sifted flours and breadcrumbs. Spoon pudding mixture into greased pudding bowl.

Top with foil-lined baking paper or if you don’t have this, use baking paper plus foil. Make sure you cut a piece large enough to allow the pudding to expand when cooked – you can make a pleat in the paper which will allow this expansion. Secure with string round the top of the pudding bowl.  You can make an easy handling device by simply folding a piece of foil lengthways with 4 thicknesses and placing this under the bowl in the pot rather like a handle. Place pudding bowl in a large pot with boiling water to come halfway up the side of the bowl. Cover with a tight fitting lid; boil for 6 hours. Replenish with hot water from a kettle as needed.

When cool enough to handle, take pudding bowl out of the pot and the pudding out of the bowl. Wrap in cling wrap and store in a cool place – in summer in the fridge.

To reheat, remove the cling wrap and return the pudding to its bowl and the bowl to the pot filled with water as before. Steam for  1/2 – 1 hour as above to gently reheat.

Carefully remove the bowl from the pot and turn out the hot pudding on to a plate. Serve at the table flamed with brandy or whisky and with hard sauce or brandy butter.

Jamie’s Christmas Ice Cream Bombe

Ingredients
• 1 litre good-quality vanilla ice cream
• 1 kg panettone
• 125 ml vin santo or sweet sherry or any nice liqueur ( I used my favourite Pedro Ximinez)
• 3 tbs raspberry jam
• 50g  glacé cherries  whole
• 50g glacé fruit thinly sliced – I used glacé pineapple, apricots and pears to contrast in colour with the cherries
• 200g good-quality dark chocolate, bashed up

Method
Take the ice cream out of the freezer so it can soften a little.  Line a 2 litre pudding bowl with 3 layers of cling film. Using a serrated knife,  cut four 2cm thick rounds off of the panettone then cut them in half. You’ll have some panettone left over, so keep this for another time. Arrange six of the slices in a single layer around the bowl and push them down if they overlap.

Drizzle some of the alcohol around the panettone slices so it soaks in, then use the back of a spoon to smear the jam over the panettone. 

Add 1/2  the ice cream to the bowl and spread it around in a thick layer. Spoon in the cherries and glacé fruit, gently pushing them into the ice cream – some pieces will be submerged and some will sit on the top. Add the rest of the ice cream. Spread it out, working quickly so the ice cream doesn’t completely melt. Put the rest of the panettone slices on top of the ice cream, drizzle over some more alcohol then cover the bowl tightly with the cling film that is overhanging the bowl. Cover with a final layer of cling film. Press a plate down on top to press everything down, then freeze overnight, or longer.

Take out of the freezer, unwrap the bombe and put in the fridge for 1/2 – 1 hour before serving.  Put the bashed-up chocolate in a bowl and melt gently over a pan of simmering water on a  low heat.  Add some grated orange or mandarin zest to the chocolate. Place the bombe on a serving platter or plate.  When the chocolate is melted, pour it over the top of the bombe and serve immediately while the chocolate is still warm.

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