I love Christmas. I think it stems from the two days of the year that my parents closed the cafes. My seven brothers and sisters, parents, grandparents and our fairy godmother Margaret were all at home. There was laughter, the occasional tear or two, treats, new pyjama days, visiting relatives, bubbly drinks and loads of delicious homemade, once-a-year, seasonal dishes!
Christmas Pudding is one of those once-a-year dishes, made with dried fruits, mixed peel, glacé cherries and spices. Our recipe is made with 100% seedless muscatel raisins. It’s sticky, intense, rich, indulgent and for all of these reasons is called a Yum Yum pudding, so good they named it twice!
I leave all my mixed peel and glacé cherries for the Christmas Cake. I’m one of those lucky cooks that has an AGA. Slow baked for at least eight hours, this cake can be made a few weeks before Christmas and still be heavenly. Lovely made and baked in Victor’s grandmother’s cake tin, this cake tin is first wrapped in several layers of newspaper so it doesn’t become too brown around the edges. Made this way, this Christmas cake, together with a generous soaking of 10 Year-Old Glengoyne, will be a party showcase for all those visiting family and all those cosy nights in front of the fire enjoying the moments that are our children’s future happy memories.
Christmas Yum Yum Pudding
Before you start make sure you have the right sized pudding bowls, greaseproof paper and string to cover them with. This recipe is enough to make two 600ml puddings, or one 1.2 litre pudding. You can use plastic pudding bowls for convenience but make sure you have a pot with a tight-fitting lid that will hold the bowl comfortably with water a third of the way up. Best test now, before the pudding is made and the water is boiling.
Serves 6 – 8
400ml cold water
250g golden caster sugar
125g unsalted butter
3 tablespoons treacle
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground cloves
½ tsp of ground mixed spice
750g dried seedless muscatel raisins, soaked overnight in brandy or marsala
150ml brandy, marsala wine or Glengoyne 10 YO to soak the raisins and to treat the cake once baked
450g plain flour
3 tsp bicarbonate of soda
A pinch of fine sea salt
A dash of brandy to set a light
Before you start with the cake, soak the seedless muscatel raisins overnight in the brandy or marsala.
Place the water, sugar, butter, treacle, spices and fruit into a large pot and stir. Very slowly bring it to the boil. Switch the heat off and allow the mixture to cool. It is vital the mixture is cool, but not cold, before you add the sieved flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into the mixture. Stir well – this needs a bit of elbow grease.
Generously butter a large 1 kilo pudding pudding bowl or plastic basin with lid. Mummy always placed a circle of baking parchment at the bottom of the bowl to stop it sticking when you turn the pudding out.
Next fill the bowl and cover with another circle of baking parchment and then either use the plastic matching lid or wrap a double layer of foil and parchment around the pudding and tie tightly with string.
Choose a large pot that the pudding will fit in and allow enough space to half-fill with water. Place a saucer at the bottom of the pot – this is an insurance policy if you forget to top up the water half way through the steaming. Steam for about three hours.
On Christmas day, repeat the steaming process and serve flaming with sugar and brandy and lots of lovely homemade custard. Is it Christmas yet?!