Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas Special: Nigella's Ultimate Christmas Pudding


Christmas is in the air! Unfortunately where I'm at right now, a lot more is in the air and water and heaven knows where else. All of us at home recently fell prey to a nasty stomach bug (which is apparently doing the rounds) and are on the road to recovery. Following an entire day of violently ejecting anything I ate and not being able to keep anything down, I had to finally go to the hospital for a shot. After that my dad, mum and sister took turns to follow suit. The poor kids weren't spared either. But they bounced back much better than us adults and seem to be in high spirits despite the health upset. Probably the copious rehydration, rest, timely meds and round-the-clock TLC contributed greatly! The good thing is that after 3-4 days of pure misery, things are looking up and hopefully we will all be in the pink of health just in time to enjoy Christmas and New Year. Fingers crossed!

If you overlooked the last post on the blog which was a guest post for German Christmas Markets you need to go check it out right away! After I called in a favour with my sister-in-law (and fellow blogger) to do a guest post, I asked my husband to do the same. I wanted a dessert post in time for Christmas but I knew it was a little unfair to ask him since he doesn't do desserts. I went ahead and asked him anyway....cheeky me! He is the official gulab jamun maker of our household but the only time he made a western dessert was when he attempted a sticky toffee pudding a long time ago (which I thought was decent but he deemed it unsatisfactory). He said that he would think about it and after that I didn't badger him further. 

So you can imagine my surprise and delight when he sent me these pictures along with the recipe last week ☺ At first I didn't believe that he had made this himself! The poor dear had spent an entire weekend researching, shopping & making this attractive looking dessert for my blog and even took the time to take a few step-by-step pics and decorate it according to the Christmas theme. I have no doubts whatsoever that my husband loves me very much! It is another matter that he invited a bunch of his buddies home to give him company to polish off the pudding hahaha  ☺ Killing two birds with one pud! Smart move, no?

Okay so I'm done with my jibber-jabber. Over to the new dessert king of our household....



★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★
Greetings readers! It looks like you will be hearing from me once every year. This is the third post I am doing for Megha's blog and I must say one that I wasn't the least bit confident about. As she has already mentioned, desserts are hardly my forte. I love eating them at any time of the day but am quite clueless when it comes to making them. The lack of motivation to learn stems from the fact that she loves to bake and hence at any given point of time, there is no shortage of desserts at home. There are a few savoury dishes that I cook at home on a regular basis which form the foundation of my culinary expertise. I do experiment with other dishes every now and then (with varying degrees of success) but those end up being savoury as well. When she said she would like me to make a dessert for her blog, I was quite sure it was a bad idea. Nevertheless I decided to give it a shot. One has to make a start someday! 

I'd like to share with you a few pointers while making this steamed pudding. I chose this pudding mainly because it was in-keeping with the season and also because Nigella is a name we both trust when it comes to simple and hearty recipes. When I sent Megha the recipe, she was incredulous at the amount of time it took to make and was like - "You steamed that thing for 8 hours?! Are you crazy?". Like Nigella states, 8 hours combined cooking time might seem awfully time-consuming but it’s not as if you need to do anything to it in that time. The steaming of the pudding is done in two batches on different days so it really isn't as bad as it sounds. The recipe is quite simple and as long as you don't have plans to leave the house (you need to keep an eye on the pudding every hour or so as it is steaming), you don't need to worry about the time. For a guy like me who has only ever made one dessert in his life before making this one - if I can do it then anyone can! 

Another important point I want to mention before moving on - the original recipe states that a heatproof plastic pudding basin with a lid is required but I didn't have that so I used a plain old stainless steel basin. I covered it with a layer of clingwrap and then a layer of foil to ensure it would be watertight. I used a giant wok which I filled with water and placed the metal basin to complete the steamer setup. It worked pretty well and even reduced the combined cooking time from 8 hours to 6 hours. I have provided the original recipe in case you would like to try it out the intended way but you can take heart in the fact that improvisation is indeed possible!

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year. You will hear more from me next year! For now, do check out this seemingly intimidating but very easy Christmas Pudding recipe 


Nigella's Ultimate Christmas Pudding

Preparation time:  15 min; Steeping time: Overnight to 1 week
Cooking time: 6-8 hours
Serves: 8-10
Recipe type: Dessert
Recipe level: Easy
Recipe Source: Adapted from here

Ingredients:

1 ¼ cups currants
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup roughly chopped pitted prunes
¾ cup pedro ximenez sherry 
⅔ cup all-purpose flour
2 ⅓ cups fresh breadcrumbs
14 tablespoons coarsely grated vegetable shortening (freeze overnight to make it easier to grate)
¾ cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking powder
grated zest of 1 lemon
3 large eggs
1 medium apple (peeled and grated)
2 tablespoons honey
½ cup vodka (to flame the pudding), Optional

Eggnog cream or vanilla custard to serve

You will need a 1.7 litre/3 pint/1½ quart heatproof plastic pudding basin with a lid, and also a sprig of holly to decorate.

Method:

1. Put the currants, golden raisins and scissored pitted prunes into a bowl with the Pedro Ximénez, swill the bowl a bit, then cover with clingfilm and leave to steep overnight or for up to 1 week.

2. When the fruits have had their steeping time, put a large pan of water on to boil, or heat some water in a conventional steamer, and butter your heatproof plastic pudding basin, remembering to grease the lid, too.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the remaining pudding ingredients (except the vodka)

4. Add the steeped fruits, scraping in every last drop of liquor with a rubber spatula, and mix to combine thoroughly


5. Scrape and press the mixture into the prepared pudding basin, squish it down and put on the lid. Then wrap with a layer of foil so that the basin is watertight, then either put the basin in the pan of boiling water (to come halfway up the basin) or in the top of a lidded steamer and steam for 5 hours, checking every now and again that the water hasn’t bubbled away.



6. When it’s had its 5 hours, remove gingerly (you don’t want to burn yourself) and, when manageable, unwrap the foil, and put the pudding in its basin somewhere out of the way in the kitchen or larder, until Christmas Day.


7. On the big day, rewrap the pudding (still in its basin) in foil and steam again, this time for 3 hours. 

8. To serve, remove from the pan or steamer, take off the lid, put a plate on top, turn it upside down and give the plastic basin a little squeeze to help unmould the pudding. Then remove the basin – and voilà!

I cannot tell you how relieved I was to see this!



9. Put the sprig of holly on top of the pudding, then heat the vodka in a small pan and the minute it’s hot, but before it boils – you don’t want the alcohol to burn off before you attempt to flambé it – turn off the heat, strike a match, stand back and light the pan of vodka, then pour the flaming vodka over the pudding and take it as fast as you safely can to your guests. If it feels less dangerous to you, pour the hot vodka over the pudding and then light the pudding. 

10. You can serve with eggnog cream or vanilla custard. Even clotted cream or vanilla ice-cream would work well. 

MAKE AHEAD TIP:
Make the Christmas pudding up to 6 weeks ahead. Keep in a cool, dark place, then proceed as recipe on Christmas Day

FREEZE AHEAD TIP:
Make and freeze the Christmas pudding for up to 1 year ahead. Thaw overnight at room temperature and proceed as recipe on Christmas Day


Notes:

  • We never use shortening at home but made an exception just this one time. The original recipe calls for suet (in the place of shortening) which we do not consume so that was out of the question. 
  • If you do not find pedro ximenez sherry then you can substitute with rum or brandy but those allegedly don't work as well. 
  • As a finishing touch, the recipe suggests to flambé vodka and pour the flaming vodka over the pudding just before serving the guests at the dinner table. This would of course enhance the 'wow' factor of the dessert but I skipped it choosing to serve the pudding with vanilla custard instead. If you want to dazzle a bunch of people please go ahead!


Suggested reading,
You can check out my previous guest posts here,
Quesadillas with Homemade Salsa and Guacamole
Margherita Pizza


Cheers,
A


3 comments:

  1. That cake looks super yummy.
    By the way for stomach upset, take Vibact. Its a pro biotic and it puts in the good bacteria in the stomach (sort of balances it) In your place it may be called by some other name.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks :) Yeah we did probiotics. Fortunately, ours is a household full of doctors so medical issues get resolved quickly :)

      Delete
  2. WOW! The pudding looks amazing.

    ReplyDelete

What do you think of this post? You can leave a message to let me know. Thanks!

Please note that I reserve the right to delete any comments that I deem inappropriate, offensive, spam or self-advertising. I appreciate your understanding in this matter.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...