Flaming Christmas puddings followed the turkey. Percy nearly broke his teeth on a silver sickle embedded in his slice. Harry watched Hagrid getting redder and redder in the face as he called for more wine, finally kissing Professor McGonagall on the cheek, who, to Harry's amazement, giggled and blushed, her top hat lopsided.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J. K. Rowling, Chapter 12
I'm harking back to my very first post here. Ten months on, Harry Potter's first year at Hogwarts still includes some of the most memorable foodie scenes of my childhood - ones that made this Australian girl wish for a Christmas in England. Happily, I got my wish and, as anyone who knows me will attest, relish the fact that I now get to spend much of December each year under a blanket, drinking mulled wine, watching Christmas films (rather than in my togs, sweating profusely, watching Christmas films).
This year, for the first time since I moved to England, my mum and I are spending Christmas together. To celebrate this, I've asked her to share her Christmas pudding recipe (and the story behind it) below:
This was apparently my Nana’s (great-grandmother’s) recipe. Grandma took it over and added to it. She added the carrots, which Nana would never have used, and other things, but mum can’t remember exactly what. When your dad and I were going to the UK in ’78 I wanted to make a pudding for our first Christmas there and asked Grandma for the recipe. She scoffed and replied that there was no recipe and she remembered it best when she was making it, so in July ’78 I watched her making an early pudding and wrote everything down as she did it.
In her later years we used to have to help when she was making all the puddings for Christmas (24 one year, as she gave a lot away as presents to all her friends) as she did not have the strength in her hands to tie them up.
4tsp mixed spice
1kg mixed dried fruit
1 grated carrot
1 grated apple
1tbsp golden syrup
125ml Bundaberg rum (another golden rum can be substituted)
115g dry breadcrumbs
220g brown sugar
130g self-raising flour
130g plain flour
50mL brandy (if you want a flaming pudding)
Large mixing bowl
Electric hand whisk
1 large square unbleached calico (approx. 500mm square) and string to tie
Silver coins (optional)
Something to hang the pudding from (in our house we use a large upside-down kitchen stool, with a wooden broom handle placed between the horizontal supports, and the pudding hanging from the spoon with a bowl under to catch the drips)
1. Soak fruit, apple, carrot, spices, marmalade, syrup and almonds in rum overnight.
2. The next morning, wash the calico and soak in water. Cream butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift the flours together and fold into the batter with the breadcrumbs. Stir in the fruit. Add coins (if using).
3. Wring out calico and sprinkle lightly with flour. Spoon mixture into the centre of the calico, pull up the corners and tie up with string, leaving a small hole in the top. This step is easier with two people as you need to hold around the top of the pudding while pulling the fabric firmly to make a well-shaped pudding. Fill the hole with flour. Knot the corners of the calico together to aid lifting out of the water and hanging to dry afterwards.
4. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Ease pudding into the pan and bring back to the boil. Reduce heat and boil for 7 hours. Hang over a bowl/sink to drip overnight. Do not allow the pudding to rest on its bottom as this will affect the shape of the finished pudding.
5. Hang in an airy place to dry out. Once bone dry, including in the folds of the fabric, store in a cool place until Christmas - in our experience, they will last for more than a year (the one in the photo is fourteen months old).
6. To reheat, boil the pudding in the calico for an hour on Christmas day. Unwrap and place on a plate. If you want a flaming pudding, gently warm the brandy in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and, being very careful not to burn yourself, hold a lighted match to the brandy. It should ignite with a blue flame. Pour over the pudding. Serve with custard, rum butter, ice-cream and thick cream.