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If you’ve arrived from Leslie Hachtel’s blog, hi and thanks for clicking! This week we are doing something a little different. As the nights draw in, we’ve decided to share our favorite seasonal recipes with you. So take a look at mine, then follow the links to see what the rest of the Romance Writers’ Weekly team will be cooking. If you’re lucky, you should have enough ideas to keep you going for weeks!
Winter is quite possibly my favorite season. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that the dark nights come early, encouraging me to hibernate inside the house, or whether it’s the lure of Christmas, but either way as soon as the clocks turn back I find myself in a baking frenzy, trying to fill all my cupboards ready for the holiday season. Today I’m going to share a recipe my grandmother taught me, which we traditionally cook on ‘stir up Sunday’ – the last Sunday in November.
Grandma Elks’ Fabulous Christmas Pud
For us Brits, Christmas Pudding is the only thing to eat after the Turkey and roast potatoes have been cleared away. It’s a long-lived tradition here, harking back to the middle ages when Plum Puddings were boiled over an open stove. Every family has their own recipe and way of serving it, and here in the Elks household we like to pour brandy over the top then light it before carrying it to the table, to the accompaniment of ‘oohs and aah’s.
Though rich, my children always ask for extra helpings. Not because they like the taste of it, mind you, but because the pudding contains money (which is wrapped in foil and pushed inside the pudding just before serving), and it’s a game to see who can make the most.
Like many dried-fruit based recipes, this one is best made weeks in advance and left to mature in a cool, dark place (if you visit an English house during Christmas, you’ll be surprised what you can find beneath our beds!).
500 g mixed dried fruit (sultanas, raisins, cranberries etc)
1/2 grated nutmeg
100 g dates, chopped up
125 g suet
zest of 1 orange (I like to squeeze in the juice too)
125 g plain flour
125 g caster sugar
150 g fresh white breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons Napoleon brandy
1 handful blanched almonds
1 large egg
150 ml milk
brandy to serve
Grease a 1.5 litre pudding basin with some butter. In a mixing bowl, stir all the ingredients together, except the serving brandy. (In our house it’s tradition that every family member has a stir). Put the mixture into the greased bowl and cover with a double layer of aluminium foil or greaseproof paper. Tie a piece of string round the side of the bowl. Place in a large saucepan with water halfway up the sides of the bowl. Bring the water to the boil, put on a tight-fitting lid, and simmer for 3 hours. Check the water regularly to make sure it doesn’t boil dry. Remove from the pan.
Let it go cold, replace the foil and store in a cool, dark place for until Christmas morning.
On Christmas morning, fill a saucepan quite full with boiling water, put it on the heat and, when it comes back to the boil, place a steamer on top of the pan and turn it down to a gentle simmer. Put the Christmas pudding in the steamer, cover and leave to steam away for 2¼ hours.
You’ll need to check the water from time to time and maybe top it up a bit.
To serve, remove the pudding from the steamer and take off the wrapping. Slide a palette knife all round the pudding, then turn it out on to a warmed plate.
Place a suitably sized sprig of holly on top, and carefully push some foil-covered coins inside the pudding, making sure not to break it up.
Now warm a ladleful of brandy over direct heat, and as soon as the brandy is hot ask someone to set light to it. Place the ladle, now gently flaming, on top of the pudding – but don’t pour it over until you reach the table.
And there you have it, one perfectly tasty, rich (in more ways than one) Christmas pudding.
And now to read more Romance Weekly Recipes go to Xio Axelrod’s blog and read her answers!
Romance Writers’ Weekly Holiday Giveaway Event
Join the authors of Romance Writers’ Weekly for an amazing day of fun and giveaways, on the 2nd December. The Facebook event will be taking place from noon (EST) right through until the early hours. So pour yourself a glass of something festive, curl up on the sofa and join us.