Sandra’s Christmas Puddings

Posted By Kerri

I’ve never made a Christmas pudding before, as a child I didn’t really like it and have only come to appreciate it in the last few years. I was keen to make my own this year so started looking around for recipes when my mum mentioned that her very good friend Sandra made very good puddings. Sandra kindly sent me the recipe which she tells me is from an old Schwartz book and she’s been making it for years. Tried and tested is always my preferred approach when dealing with something new so I was keen to get going.

I’ve mentioned numerous times before that baking isn’t really my forte but I’m trying to get better at it. One of the reasons is that I’m not very good is that I tend to have rather a haphazard approach to cooking and all the weighing and measuring and other careful skills required for baking doesn’t suit that style very well. I was determined to get this right though so why I started taking short-cuts before I’d even started I don’t know.

Sandra’s recipe calls for the fruit to be soaked in Guinness for up to a week in advance of the pudding making. I didn’t have Guinness so decided to use brandy instead. I also didn’t have a week as I wanted to make these yesterday. I ended up making them this afternoon so the fruit was actually soaked for three days. I did notice a definite plumpage to the fruit though so hopefully this isn’t too big a problem.

As I’d soaked the fruit in brandy I completely overlooked the part of the recipe that requires me to actually add brandy (I did mention I was rubbish at this didn’t I?!). I only realised my mistake once the mixture was in the greased bowls so I just stirred some in to each one. I suspect this has probably disturbed the greasing so I hope we actually manage to release the puddings from their bowls when the time comes.

The recipe requires raisins, currants and sultanas. Not wanting to be left with a surplus of sultanas, I decided to omit those and just used currants and raisins. I think this was silly though as the sultanas are the biggest and juiciest of the fruits and would have given a good contrast to the smaller currants and raisins. Too late now though 🙁

The recipe specifies three 1.5 litre pudding basins which I didn’t have so I made half the recipe to fill the two bowls I did have – Stephen did the maths on this part though so hopefully he got it right 🙂 I did end up with too much though so had to improvise with an additional, small Pyrex bowl. Of all the issues, I think this is the least of my worries though.

Finally, I couldn’t get the heat low enough to steam the puddings and ended up with boiling water. My mum suggested taking some of the water out but it still didn’t work so I ended up steaming the large pudding on the hob with the one heat diffuser that I have and putting the other two in the oven in a tray of water. Not sure the oven method will work out but if they go wrong then there’s always the one done using the traditional method.

Hopefully these amendments aren’t too serious and I’ve got away with it. I guess we won’t find until 25 December though – perhaps I should buy a pudding just in case…

Sandra’s Christmas Pudding Recipe

Makes 3 x 1½ pint/855 ml puds

8oz/227g SR flour
4oz/113g fresh breadcrumbs
4oz/113g ground almonds
1¼ lb/567g soft dark brown sugar
6oz/170g shredded suet
1lb/454g currants
1lb/454g sultanas
1lb/454g raisins
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp salt
6 size 3 eggs
1 orange
1 lemon
6 tbs/90ml brandy
½ pint/285ml brown ale (I use Guinness)

I also put in (some or all, all depends if I have them at the time and if I want to put them in): –

Grated carrot (don’t know why but my mum always used to!)
Few chopped dates
4 oz chopped almonds (I always put these in)
Grated apple (always put this in too)
Couple tablespoons marmalade

Before starting to mix anything up, I always leave the fruit in soak in the Guinness (I find I use nearly a pint then I drink the rest!) for up to a week so it’s nice and plump and soft.

Place flour, breadcrumbs, ground and chopped almonds, sugar, suet, spices, chopped dates and salt into a large mixing bowl. Mix them together thoroughly and beat the eggs in a separate basin.

Grate rinds and squeeze the juice from the orange and lemon.

Add eggs, fruit rinds and juices, brandy and all rest of wet stuff and stir well (making a wish!) ensuring that ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Grease well three 1½ pint/855ml basins (or whatever sizes you are using). Fill with mixture to within 1 in/25mm of top. Cover each with a circle of greaseproof paper, folded and tucked to allow for expansion of the puds. Cover with square of muslin (or old cotton pillowcase/sheet) or foil. Tie a length of string several times around the basin to secure the covers. Knot opposite ends of the muslin over the top of the basin.

Place puds in a steamer or stand them in covered saucepans of boiling water (with upturned saucer or scrumpled foil or greaseproof paper at bottom to prevent bottom of pud drying out) to come halfway up sides of basins. Steam for 6 hours (longer or shorter for different sized basins) topping up with water if necessary.

Allow puddings to cool. Remove the muslin or foil covers and replace them with clean ones. Store in a dry, cool place. Not necessary to freeze them.

Steam puds for 3 hours before serving.

That’s it!

Nov 10th, 2008

9 Comments to 'Sandra’s Christmas Puddings'

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  1. Darren said,

    Maybe you should rename them “Kerri’s Christmas Puddings”. 🙂

  2. Kerri said,

    You’re probably right, all that messing around with the original recipe means these are probably going to be nothing like Sandra’s revered puddings!

  3. Baby Bro said,

    Giving the recipe for aunty Sarns Christmas Pud Is like selling the family Silver, or Brass in our case.

  4. The thing about baking, there are a few pitfalls and all that, but, well, if you think about all the different sort of baked goods there are around the world, none would exist if it hadn’t been for people like you who try to take shortcut and improvise along the way. I’m glad you’ve documented it all, if it works out, then great, it can be repeated and imrpoved upon, if not, well, you know what not to do next time. Just don’t run amok like I did with my macarons a few weeks back, there’s so many Christmas puds you can put away in year 🙂

  5. Kerri said,

    That’s a very good point Caramella 🙂 We turned them off last night and left them to cool overnight but we did have a quick peek and they look OK. I did taste a little that was stuck to the greaseproof and it did taste like Christmas pudding so I’m slightly less concerned now!

  6. Jules said,

    I’m sure they will have worked perfectly 🙂 They certainly look good in the photo.

  7. Antonia said,

    They look great and I’m sure that they are just perfect! The first year that I made my own, I bought one just in case but luckily it worked a treat. Homemade really is so good and yours look just perfect!

  8. Will said,

    Love this recipe, but the quantities given make AT LEAST four pudding basins of that size! Though the embarrassment of having so copiously overproduced was quickly extinguished by the joy of having so much delicious pudding to consume!

  9. Kerri said,

    I’m glad you liked it Will. We halved the recipe to fit the bowls we had and I did find I had a little left over but only enough to fill the smallest Pyrex bowl, not sure why you ended up with so much!

    We have one left from last year so am looking forward to seeing how that has matured.

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