This is paid post in collaboration with The Royal Mint
Tradition is an odd old thing. I have never made a Christmas pudding before this year – I’ve always had, and greatly enjoyed my mother’s, Christmas simply would not be Christmas without it.
This year I made the Royal Mint Christmas pudding, a recipe they commissioned from Rachel Walker, the food Editor at Reader’s Digest, and it was remarkably easy, with very little hands on time. My resulting pudding was rich, sticky, spiced (but importantly for me not over powering), had a hint of chocolate and was greatly enjoyed at the first taste.
I’ve made a quick video guide, and have a few hints, to show you just how easily it can be done
- Read the recipe twice before you start! You cannot make this pudding in an afternoon. You need to soak the dried fruit overnight, and you can rest the pudding mixture over night before cooking.
- Gather all your ingredients together and weight them out before you start.
- Reread the recipe as you make the pudding – I actually put the ingredients in the wrong order, fortunately it did not matter at all.
- It is OK to vary the recipe – change the spices according to your taste, use whiskey if you do not have brandy. Keep the amounts the same and you will be fine.
- I far prefer to cook steamed puddings in the slow cooker. It frees up a ring on the hob, and generally needs less attention that a pan on the stove does. Stand a jam jar lid in the bottom of the cooker, pop in the pudding and fill with boiling water to halfway up. Adjust the setting so you have a gentle simmer.
- The pudding needs 6 hours of cooking, 4 in advance, 2 on the day. The closer to Stir Up Sunday you make it the better – it improves and matures in the weeks before Christmas.
- Enjoy making your pudding and turn it into a family tradition with everyone taking a turn to stir and to make a wish.
- Do not forget to add your Sixpence – the person who finds it on Christmas Day (or possibly in Boxing Day leftovers) will have good luck for the next year.
This Sunday, the Sunday before the start of Advent is Stir Up Sunday, when it is traditional to make your Christmas Puddings and Cakes, so called as the Collect for the day starts “Stir up, we beseech the O Lord”, and the timing is ideal to allow the pudding to mature before Christmas Day. Traditionally a Sixpence was stirred into the pudding before it was cooked, and it would bring the finder good luck and wealth for the forthcoming year. As the pudding was made each member of the family would give it a stir and make a wish for the coming year.
The pudding making was very much a joint effort, Ed weighed everything out, I added it all to the bowl and gave it the first mix. Ed added the sixpence and we both had a stir and made a wish.
If you are making your pudding this Stir Up Sunday, please share with The Royal Mint on Twitter using #StirupSunday @RoyalMint
Recipe: Christmas Pudding
- 170 g sultanas
- 140 g currants
- 140 g raisins
- 200 ml water
- 30 g plain flour
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground mace
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 55 g breadcrumbs
- 85 g shredded suet (if you cannot get hold of suet, softened butter works just as well)
- 40 g chocolate (70%, grated)
- 1 cooking apple (peeled and grated)
- 85 g soft dark brown sugar
- 20 g chopped mixed peel
- 55 g blanched almonds (roughly chopped)
- 1 lemon (zested)
- 1 orange (zested)
- 1 tbsp black treacle
- 3 tbsp brandy
- 1 egg (beaten)
- 1 tsp butter
- The Royal Mint Sixpence
- 1 litre pudding basin / heat proof bowl
- Greaseproof paper
- Large elastic band
- Stock pot
- Steamer basket/Deep saucer/ramekin
- Put the sultanas, currants and raisins in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 3 minutes. Leave to soak, uncovered, overnight.
- Sift the flour and spices into a mixing bowl.
- Add the breadcrumbs, suet / butter, grated chocolate, grated apple, brown sugar, mixed peel, almonds, lemon and orange zest.
- Mix well, using your hands to get rid of any lumps of butter and ensuring the mixture is fully blended together
- Stir in the soaked fruit, which will have plumped-up over overnight. Next, stir in the treacle, brandy and beaten egg.
- Mix well, and stand overnight. While this isn't necessary, the marinating helps the spices soak in. Before you're ready to cook, stir in the sixpence. It's traditional for everyone to give the pudding a turn with a wooden spoon at this stage, and make a wish.
- Use the knob of butter to grease the pudding bowl, and tip the Christmas pudding mixture into it.
- Cut one circle of greaseproof paper, which is few inches bigger than the rim of the bowl. Use a large elastic band to secure it over the pudding bowl with a folded pleat running through the middle. This will room to allow the pudding to release excess steam. Cover the top with a piece of tin foil (same size as the greaseproof paper) and then tie it tightly with the string.
- Make a loop of string across the top, to fashion a handle, so the pudding can be easily lifted in and out of the pan.
- If you are using a steaming pot, pour some water into the bottom of the stock pot – about one eighth full – so that the steaming basket sits in the bottom, just above the water level. Bring the water to boil, and place the Christmas pudding in the basket.
- If you don’t have a steaming basket, simply use the upturned saucer or ramekin so that the pudding basin is kept away from direct contact with the base of the pan. Then fill the stock pot with water to around half-way up the side of the pudding basin.
- Put on the lid, and steam at a gentle simmer for four hours. Keep an eye on the water to make sure that the pan doesn't boil dry, and add more water from the kettle to keep it topped-up if needed
- If the lid of the stock pot doesn't fit on tightly, it's not ideal, but not disastrous– as long as there's plenty of steam circulating. Keep an even more careful eye on water levels though, as a loosely-covered pot is more likely to boil dry.
- Lift the pudding out of the pan after four hours, making sure you keep the greaseproof lid on – that way you can store the Christmas pudding for up to two months.
- On Christmas Day, steam the pudding again for another two hours, and serve – perhaps with a sprig of holly on top, and a splash of brandy to light.
PLEASE READ: Obviously, due to size, putting a coin in a pudding might cause a risk of choking. And while we might all remember stirring a 2p or 20p piece in our puddings as children, modern knowledge of health and safety might change our thinking towards it, particularly if the coins aren’t pure silver, or have not been sterilised. As such, we recommend that you do not bake your coin into the pudding or when reheating. Instead, we recommend that coins should be placed into the pudding just prior to serving, with the slices then dished out at random to give someone the chance to find it. Alternatively, simply pop the sixpence in its pouch and hide it under one of the table settings before everyone sits down to dinner.
If you do add anything like coins or charms to your pudding, sterilise them first in boiling water. Make sure you choose items large enough to be noticed, or wrap them tightly in a ball of tin foil, and tell everyone to look out for them. This serves two purposes: it will increase the fun, and it counts as a word to the wise, so that Christmas dinner doesn’t close with people accidentally swallowing the coin or breaking teeth!
Post commissioned by The Royal Mint. All opinions our own.