Yes, I made a turkey this week, complete with stuffing, gravy, mash, and about a dozen side dishes. But I also made the Prodigal Christmas pudding-and you should make yours now too. It gets better and better until it’s perfect for the big day!
A few things to bear in mind when attempting to make this fabulous confection. One: a homemade pud is ALWAYS better than store-bought one, even if you pay 30 bucks for it. Two: Christmas pudding is a very forgiving thing to make-you really can’t mess it up. And three: making a pudding is wonderful for using up those ghastly dregs of booze you’ve had kicking around for yonks, the kind that no one wants to drink but no wants to throw away.
Also, if you use lots of flour the pud will be heavier, denser; if you use prunes, the pudding will also be dense and almost black. It depends on what you’ve looking for-I’ve made puds like this but this year I went for a lighter, more mahogany-colored confection.
This recipe will be enough for three or four puds. Rather a lot, I can hear you say, but if you’re going to all this trouble, why not make extras and give some away as gifts. Actually, we use one to brighten the depths of winter and often keep an extra one for Christmas the following year. Yes, they keep! They don’t improve much with age, but they do keep.
Before you start, you’ll need three (at least!) 5-cup pudding basins. I use whatever ceramic bowl I find lying around the kitchen. You’ll also need aluminum foil and three old tea towels-the ones you don’t use because the design faded, they’re too ragged but you won’t throw it out, or you burnt a corner on the stove.
- First the dry ingredients.
You’ll need one pound of raisins and half pound of mixed or other dried fruit. This year I used dried apricots chopped up. You can sub in some sultanas and/or currants for some of the raisins and add a quarter cup of chopped candied fruits if you like that sort of thing. You’ll also need some grated peel from a couple oforanges and/or lemons. Grate up a carrot if you want, as well as two small cooking apples. Add in 1/4 cup of chopped almonds. This year I couldn’t find almonds so I used pecans and walnuts instead.
In a small bowl, sift half a cup of all-purpose or other flour with a teaspoon each of baking powder and salt. Now tip into the fruit mixture and add four cups of fresh white breadcrumbs. You’ll need quite a large, cauldron-like container!
Now here comes the English secret ingredient…Weetabix! You’ll need four lozenges of Weetabix, crumbled up, and a couple more lozenges standing by, just in case. I will explain later.
Let’s add the fat: I used one cup (two sticks) of butter. If you’re brave, and if you have a good relationship with your butcher, use the same amount of good quality beef fat. Now grate! To make life easier, I suggest freezing the butter or fat first. Combine the grated fat of your choice with the dry stuff and fruits.