When it comes to Christmas puddings, we’ve always bought those bonkers-popular ones from Waitrose by Heston, which have the whole clementine inside. I still remember the total madness of them being sold on eBay for hundreds of pounds back in 2010 when they were first released, but they’re actually very tasty so have been made every year since and really are quite delicious.
However, this year Royal Mail is attempting to revive an age old pudding tradition by giving away 2,015 free sixpence coins (which you can see above and below) just in time for Stir-Up Sunday. Traditionally, that’s the last Sunday before advent when Christmas puddings should be made in order for them to have enough time to mature before Christmas Day.
In Christmas tradition, sixpence coins are added and cooked inside a Christmas pudding, believed to bring good luck to whoever finds them on their plate on Christmas day. Plus, everyone in the family should stir the pudding (from East to West in honour of the Three Wise Men) and make a wish.
Royal Mail has collaborated with Opera Tavern to produce the great recipe above, but after getting such a cracking outcome from Nigella’s Christmas cake recipe (and reading The Telegraph’s rating of celebrity chef options here) – I decided to stick with what I know and use her pudding recipe as well. I sneakily made mine early to test it out, and so I could share how it went.
Add 150g each of currants, sultanas and roughly scissored prunes to a glass bowl and leave overnight to soak with 175ml of sherry (for up to a week if you like!). Nigella specifies Pedro Ximinez but that’s not strictly necessary if you prefer something less dark. Cover with clingfilm and leave somewhere safe.
The next day, grease a 3 pint heatproof bowl. Nigella recommends a plastic one with a lid; we used the glass pyrex and foil method. Make 125g breadcrumbs from 2-3 day old bread (white is best for this), then add your fruits.
Mix in 150g suet (vegetable suet makes for a lighter pudding), then add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 a teaspoon of cloves and 1 teaspoon of baking powder. Then the zest of 1 lemon.
Add 3 eggs, then 1 medium cooking apple (peeled and grated). We were able to use the ones in Mum’s garden, which meant they were super fresh.
Top tip – just peel using a knife, then grate with the TEENY WEENY grater below. They’re the perfect size. Also ideal for Bircher Muesli.
Finally mix in 100g plain flour, 150g dark brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of honey.
Clean any of the good luck charms you’re adding (or that precious sixpence) with full fat Coke, then add to the mixture.
Press the mixture into the prepared pudding basin, squish it down and put on the lid if you have one. Or wrap with a layer of foil so that the basin is watertight, trim and place into a pan of boiling water that should come halfway up the basin.
Steam for 5 hours, checking every now and again that the water hasn’t bubbled away. While this is happening, I fully recommend getting stuck in to M&S’s new still mulled cider. It’s like CHRISTMAS IN A CUP. Two bottles for £10 until Christmas Eve.
Finally, once the pan is off the heat and at a manageable temperature, put the pudding in its basin somewhere out of the way in the kitchen until Christmas Day.
On the big day, rewrap the pudding (still in its basin) in foil and steam again, this time for 3 hours. Remove from the pan, take off the lid or foil, put a plate on top, turn it upside down and ta-da!
To serve put a sprig of holly on top, then heat the vodka in a small pan. I’ll use Sipsmith, not just because it’s the best, but because it lends itself really well to dessert cooking.
The minute the vodka gets hot (before it boils), turn off the heat and light the pan of vodka, then pour the flaming vodka over the pudding and walk it to the Christmas table 🙂