Last Christmas an innocent question from my father resulted in me nearly thrusting a sprig of holly up his nose. The question?
'Did you make this pudding or buy it?'
'Buy it? BUY IT? When have I ever bought a Christmas pudding?'
'Well, you can buy them now can't you? he said looking nervous, 'Marks and Spencers' do them, I've seen the adverts'
'When has anyone ever given you bought Christmas pud? They've all been made for you by Gran, Mum or me.'
'But isn't it easier to buy it?
'Easy? Do you have any idea how easy it is to make a Christmas pud?'
'Actually no, none at all' he said
'Well it's a piece of cake...pudding, I mean.'
' I'm sure I wouldn't be able to make one'
'Of course you would' I scoffed.
'All you do is measure a load of stuff into a big bowl, stir it up, pack it into a basin and cook it.'
And that is really all you do.
Dad wouldn't have it though, and continued to claim that he would never be able to make a pudding. I continued to claim that any fool could make one. I became quite agitated until my elder son said 'Calm down Mum it's Christmas',
'I know that!' I yelled, 'why do you think we are eating this flaming pudding!'
And do you know I'm not honestly sure I said 'flaming'.....
Measure everything, chuck it all in a bowl and mix really well. Use your hands.
The recipe I use most years is based on this one by Delia.
I change a few things. I use wholemeal breadcrumbs instead of white because I rarely have white bread around. I defy anyone to be able to say what kind of bread has been used in something as strongly flavoured as a Christmas pud. I replace the 10 oz of currants with more raisins and sultanas. I leave out the zest of half a lemon and instead use the zest of a whole orange and I leave out the hard-to-find and expensive barley wine and replace it with more stout.
I also add a sixpence.
Make sure each member of the family stirs it and makes a wish. Very important.
Cover the bowl and leave overnight. I'm not convinced leaving it overnight is necessary but I do it anyway.
Pack it into a buttered pudding basin. This is a two pint basin.
Cover with both greaseproof paper and foil, pleated to allow for the pudding to expand. Tie firmly with string.
Steam for 8 hours. I filled the saucepan almost to the top, brought it to a boil and then turned down to a simmer. It did not need topping up at all.
I'm not sure why this shot was taken at an angle, my mind must have been elsewhere.
I will cover it, tying with string again and store on my preserves shelf in the garage. On Christmas day it will need another steaming of 2-3 hours, or you can microwave it.
Mincemeat next, and that is even easier than pudding Dad.