Full disclosure I have never made a “Christmas Pudding”… until now.
Recently for a holiday party that I was asked to cook for (don’t get any ideas… I still do not cater, and they are very wealthy) the request for a full on English style Christmas dinner was met head on! I rolled out the beef rib roast and Yorkshire pudding, Brussel sprouts, and potatoes, “Gentlemen’s Relish” with plenty of homemade cheese biscuits, and of course a traditional (of sorts) English Christmas Pudding.
A pudding for the English is not what we think pudding is here in the US… shocker. So a pudding typically refers to a dessert for the English and derives based on a class system they once had. Typically “puddings” refer to “homely or rustic style desserts popular with the lower class.” I searched and searched for recipes and combined the ideas that I liked into one big Christmas Pudding. There's a nod to my Persian roots with the dried cherries, Oklahoma roots with the pecans, and well…ITK with the More Than Pumpkin Pie Spice.
How can I best translate this to the American way of understanding? This Christmas Pudding is a steamed/poached fruit cake that is dense, and warm, and creamy, and packed with tons of flavor and texture. The clients loved it, and so did I!
So let's discuss “Suet.” Remember a pudding is “homely and rustic, popular with the lower class”. Way back when, when butter was not something easily accessible or affordable. Suet fat (The hard white fat on kidneys around the loin of beef pork and lamb) isn’t maybe the healthiest thing to consume, but OH WOW! Suet is great in baking and frying just as lard is great in those methods cooking. The flavor and texture are amazing! No your “pud” will not taste like pot roast, but it will have a rich and flavorful body.
Plan on starting your Pudding a day or two ahead of time…. That dried fruit needs to soak in the whiskey overnight, and if you want a flavorful well set “Pud” try letting it hang out in the pan overnight before steaming! Just an idea. In the fridge of course.
SCOTTY’S CHRISTMAS PUDDING - serves 10
Overnight Whisky Soak:
1 cup dried plums (pitted prunes), chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dried currants
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup crystallized (candied) ginger, chopped
1 cup whiskey or brandy
1 1/2 cup ground Suet (ask your grocer’s meat counter or butcher)
1 cup loose golden brown sugar
1/2 cup Sorghum/Molasses
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup whole milk
1 cup All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons In The Kitchen With Scotty “More Than Pumpkin Pie Spice” (may sub 1/2 teaspoon of each: ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground cloves)
1 apple (Granny Smith, Fuji, Jonathan) chopped
1 cup Pecans, rough chopped
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
2 teaspoons fresh orange zest
Softened unsalted butter
Lightly whipped and sweetened cream
You are going to soak the dried fruit in whiskey or brandy overnight…. So do that. Okay, I will tell you how. Chop what needs to be chopped, place in a non-metal bowl, pour the whiskey over them, mix around to coat, cover in plastic wrap, and then carry on with your day/night.
For the Pudding (Pud): Sift together your flour and baking powder in a bowl. In another bowl (Christmas needs many bowls) add the ground suet, brown sugar, bread crumbs, More Than Pumpkin Pie Spice (or spices), salt, then sprinkle on the sifted flour/baking powder. With your clean hands, like you’re making pie crust or shortbread, start hand mixing and rubbing the suet in with the dry ingredients. Mix until everything is evenly combined, and you have a nice crumbly mixture.
Unwrap the dried fruit that has been macerating with the whiskey. To that add the lemon and orange zest, along with the chopped fresh rosemary. Mix to combine then pour into the dry, crumbly mixture. Add the chopped apple and chopped pecans. Give the entire mixture a toss.
Next, add the beaten egg, sorghum/molasses, and milk. Gently fold it all together until you have a tick, wet, chunky, mass.
Generously butter the inside of a small (8’-9”) bundt pan or large ovenproof bowl. Make sure this pan or bowl will fit inside a large pot or stockpot. If not you may have to break your pud down into two or three same size containers and cook each one separately.
Fill that pot with enough water that it comes almost halfway up the side of your filled bunt pan or "pudding bowl," and bring to boil.
Once your pan is buttered spoon the pudding batter inside evenly, pack it nice and full and smooth off the top. Cut out a parchment paper top that will evenly fit flush over the top of your pudding… like a cartouche. Lay over the top of your pudding and place a heatproof plate on that for added weight. If you had to break the batter down into more than one pan, you might place the ones not cooking on the fridge, covered, until ready to cook.
Place the pan into the boiling water carefully, almost like a ban Marie. Cover the pot and bring back up to a boil then turn the het down to a simmer. Simmer the pudding for 3-3.5 hours or until the pudding is cooked through and set just like a cake.
After cooking, carefully remove the Christmas pudding from the boiling water. Invert the pudding onto a heatproof dish (we are going to set this sucker on fire!) and carefully “plop” it out. Dust with powdered sugar and stick some pretty holiday greens on if you like.
In a saucepan gently heat a cup of brandy… to warm it and to get those fumes going. When ready to serve your Christmas Pudding turn out all the lights. Carefully light the brandy with a lighter or match and pour over the pudding while singing “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” … or your favorite Christmas song!
After the flame burns out, slice, and serve with lightly whipped cream. Enjoy!