Sunday, 30 November 2008

Christmas Pudding Hotline

My friend Carmel is on the Domestic Goddess bandwagon and has this year decided to make her own Christmas Puddings. She was very cautious about it and I had the Christmas Pudding Hotline open all hours to answer lots of questions along the way. Having now successfully made it to the 'puddings are wrapped, ready for mum and mother in law' stage, I think Carmel has realised that it wasn't that bad, pretty easy actually. Here are a few things that came up along the way...

I think the length of the recipe and the quantity of ingredients makes it look daunting but essentially it is very easy to make Christmas puddings. Carmel followed the recipe on my work blog. You don't have to follow it religiously with regard to the types of dried fruits and even nuts you use. Same with any pudding - as long as you use the exact weight you can use a mixture of sultanas, raisins, currants, mixed peel, dried figs, apricots, dates, prunes and of course candied cherries. Nuts wise, try almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts or even pecans. Whatever takes your fancy really.

Carmel was unsure where to find the suet in the supermarket. Use vegetable suet (and not beef!) and you can usually locate it either in the baking section or around the area where you can find the paxo stuffings and stock cubes etc. This is what the pack looks like...

Instead of dark muscavado I sometimes use 'Siucra's' rich dark brown sugar - it's really yummy and not quite as bitter.

You can buy pudding basins easily at this time of year in places like Dunnes or Supervalu. You can buy plastic basins with lids cheaply (a 2pt in Supervalu is € 3.49 and a 3pt is €3.99) or spend more on a fancier old fashioned looking ceramic basin (also available in Supervalu or any good cookshop). Whichever you buy, you can reuse it next year anyhow. The basin size can be a little confusing. As with the recipe I referred you to on my work blog, the recipe may talk about 'Lb' sizes instead of 'Pt's'. A 3 Lb basin is the same as 3 pt basin and in the same way, a 2 Lb basin is equivalent to a 2pt basin.

You will need pretty big pans (with lids) to take the basins - check that they fit before you start. A large casserole pan is ideal for this. The basin shouldn't touch the bottom of the pan during cooking or the basin will melt and the pudding burn. You can either sit the basin in a steamer or on a metal trivet (which is a bit like a pot stand) that you can buy in any good cookshop. Add enough water to the pan to come half way up the sides of the pudding basin. If you're anything like me in being an expert in burning water (!), set a timer for every 20-30 minutes or so to go back and check the water level, topping up if necessary.

Carmel popped round this afternoon with her puddings in tow to have me check them over. She did a great job - they look and smell amazing. The mums will be very impressed! I told her there was one final job to do and that was wrapping them nicely. This is what we did...

Cut out a large square of fabric or soft paper and sit the pudding, still in the basin, in the centre. I had some florists 'Spiderweb' which I bought in a Florist's wholesalers. I'm sure your local florist would be happy to sell you a small amount.

Gather up two opposite corners to meet in the middle.

Followed by the opposite two corners.

Use both hand to bunch the gathering up in the centre.

Secure with a pretty ribbon.

and voila

little cutesy's!

Please leave any further Christmas Pudding Hotline questions on the comments below and I'll do my best to answer.

1 comment:

Cliona O'Flaherty said...

Hey cute wrapping! Oh my god can you imagine beef suet in plum pudding...yuck!