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So That Was Christmas

Christmas 08

So Christmas dinner is over for another year, except for small matter of digestion, which, after so much food, feels like it’s still ongoing! The recipe went something like this:

  • Take 23 people (13 adults, marinated in red wine for a couple of hours, plus 10 kids, well sugared up).
  • Add some drama (remembering everything else, but forgetting to bring that specially prepared nut loaf).
  • Present the non nut-loafers with regulation turkey-and-ham-and-stuffing (and throw in some roast beef to boot).
  • Surround liberally with vegetables including (but not limited to) sprouts (the veg people love to hate), potatoes in roast and mashed form, carrots boiled alone and mashed-with-parsnip, turnip (mashed), broccoli (not mashed) and peas just being peas.
  • Adorn with gravy and any or all of the following:

    • Ma’s must-have bread sauce.
    • Pam’s mustard sauce a la Trudy.
    • Berna’s cranberry sauce with her “soupçon of cointreau”.
    • Spud’s own redcurrant jelly and rhubarb chutney.
  • Plug any gaps on the plates with yorkshire puddings.
  • Eat, drink and be merry.
  • When you have dispensed with that little lot, and any second helpings that may be required for that special feeling of Christmas fullness, allow to digest for the duration of another glass of wine or two and some Tommy Cooper jokes.
  • Proceed directly to the Ma’s legendary Christmas pudding and brandy butter (the various sisters-in-law all want the recipe, so that one makes the post, below). You might even have a little bit of room for the fresh fruit and cream before you start on the mince pies a la Delia Smith, though nobody will have room for the Irish whiskey Christmas cake for days yet.
  • Continue to drink, be merry, sing ’til the wee small hours and count the days ’til we do it all over again!

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Ma’s Christmas Pud a la Georgina Campbell

christmas pudding

Oh, there’s a bit of time and effort involved here but, hey, it’s only once a year… Plus these puddings can be made weeks or even months in advance if you like, covered and stored in a cool dark place and then reheated on the day.

The Fruit And Nuts:
  • 350g raisins
  • 225g currants
  • 225g sultanas
  • 100g glace cherries, halved
  • 100g candied peel, finely chopped
  • 75g blanched slivered almonds
  • 1 good sized carrot (about 185g), scraped and coarsely grated
  • 1 large Bramley apple (175-225g), peeled and finely chopped or coarsely grated
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
The Dry Ingredients:
  • 400g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 225g demerara sugar
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp finely grated nutmeg
  • 0.5 tsp ground ginger
  • 0.25 tsp ground cloves
The Liquids:
  • 225g shredded suet or margarine, melted and cooled a little
  • Juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon
  • 2 tblsps black treacle
  • 100ml whiskey or rum or brandy
  • 4 eggs, lightly whisked
You’ll also need:
  • 2 x 1 litre pudding basins
Day 1:
  • In a large bowl, mix all of the prepared fruit and nuts with the dry ingredients and the grated lemon and orange zest.
  • Warm the treacle slightly in the microwave or small pan to make it runny and add the orange and lemon juice, whiskey/rum/brandy, melted suet/margarine and lightly beaten eggs.
  • Mix the liquids well, add to the fruit mixture and stir to mix thoroughly.
  • Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave in a cool place overnight – the mixture will thicken.
Day 2:
  • Butter the 2 pudding basins and put a disc of buttered greaseproof paper or baking parchment in the base of each. Also prepare buttered double greaseproof circles about 10cm bigger than the top of the bowls (enough to catch and hold under the rim of the bowl with string).
  • Give the pudding mixture a good stir, spoon into the prepared bowls, tap sharply on the worktop to eliminate air pockets and smooth down the top of the mixture. Lay over the larger greaseproof circles and tie down firmly with good string. Allow enough string for a handle, if possible, as this will make it easier and safer to handle while hot later on. Top off the pudding bowls with a piece of foil big enough to tuck under the rim and cook by one of the following methods:
  • To Boil: Stand puddings on trivets in deep saucepans; pour in enough boiling water to come 2/3 of the way up the sides; cover tightly and boil for 5-6 hours making sure that the water never goes off the boil and topping up regularly with boiling water to keep up a level at least half way up the bowl.
  • To Oven Steam: Preheat an oven to 150C and stand the puddings in a deep roasting tin; ¾ fill with boiling water; then cover completely with foil to prevent steam escaping. Cook for about 6 hours or overnight, reducing the temperature to 140C if it will be left unattended for more than 6 hours.
  • To Pressure Cook: Stand each pudding on a trivet in a pressure cooker and fill about 1 litre of boiling water. Cook on high heat without pressure for 30 minutes, then bring up to pressure and cook for 2 hours.
Day of Eating:
  • Reheat the puddings when required by steaming/boiling for a further 2-3 hours or in a pressure cooker, for 20 minutes without pressure and then 45 minutes under pressure.
  • Just before serving, douse with some whiskey or brandy, set alight and allow to burn briefly.
  • Quench the alcohol-induced flames, slice and serve with brandy butter, cream or both (it’s Christmas, after all!)


  1. chef E

    I still have not tried Yorkshire pudding…even when I was in England and it was on the buffet of the hotel…this looks good though!

  2. Daily Spud

    The Christmas pudding is indeed good, though it’s an entirely different beast to Yorkshire puddings (which we had also) – made from a simple flour/eggs/milk batter, cooked in hot oil and traditionally served with roast meats and gravy. Will have to post about them separately sometime – they’re worthy of a post on their own :)

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