Starting today, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite holiday recipes as we countdown to one of the biggest days of the year. Christmas Pudding is first, since it takes a few hours prep and steaming time making it the one recipe you want to check off as “done.” The early prep will pay off though, because you can make it now, wrap and freeze it, and simply give it a quick re-steaming on Christmas. You'll find this, which is a variation of the Steamed Cranberry Pudding I shared before Thanksgiving, in my new cookbook "Favorite Flavors of Ireland." Order signed copies directly from my website www.irishcook.com.
Nollaig Shona Duit
Traditional Christmas Pudding with Brandy Butter
Figgy pudding, created sometime in the 1400s, was a dish of dried figs, dates, raisins, and spices boiled in almond milk. Also called plum pudding — despite the fact it contains no plums whatsoever — this steamed or boiled pudding was first recorded as Christmas Pudding in 1858 in a novel by British author AnthonyTrollope. The name is probably derived from the substitution of raisins for dried plums as an ingredient in pies during medieval times. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, dishes made with raisins retained the term “plum,” and in the Victorian era, Christmas plum puddings became a well-loved dessert. Curiously, plum pudding was a latecomer to Ireland, but it caught on quickly and today it is one of the best-loved Christmas desserts. This recipe, which you’ll find in my new cookbook Favorite Flavors of Ireland, is almost always served with Brandy Butter (recipe follows), also called brandy hard sauce.
1 cup sultanas (golden raisins)
1 cup currants
1/4 cup chopped dried fruit, such as cranberries, raisins, and figs
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup candied cherries, halved
1/4 cup candied mixed peel
1/3 cup brandy or dark rum
Juice and grated zest of 1 orange
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
1 apple, peeled, cored, and grated
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white bread crumbs
1 tsp. Mixed Spice or pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1. Combine the fruits, candied cherries, and mixed peel in a large glass jar or bowl. Add the brandy or rum, orange zest and juice, and then cover; let stand at room temperature overnight.
2. Butter a 6-cup pudding mold or deep, heatproof bowl and place a round of wax paper on the bottom. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs. Stir in the soaked fruits, ginger, apple, flour, breadcrumbs, mixed spice, and cinnamon.
3. Transfer the batter into the prepared mold and smooth the top. Cover with a double piece of buttered wax paper and a double piece of aluminum foil. Fold together and make a pleat in the center (to allow for the pudding to expand). Tie the paper and foil in place with kitchen twine.
4. Place the mold in a large saucepan or Dutch oven fitted with a rack, or put a folded kitchen towel on the bottom of the pot to prevent direct contact with the bottom of the pot. Add enough hot water to the pot to come halfway up the sides of the mold or dish. Cover and steam on medium-low heat for 2–2 1/2 hours, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. (Check the water level once or twice during cooking and add more water when necessary.)
5. Carefully remove the pudding mold from the pot. Remove the foil and parchment, and run a metal spatula around the sides to loosen. Place a serving plate over the mold and invert. Slice and serve warm with brandy butter or sauce.
6. If not serving immediately, let the pudding cool, covered, in the mold. When completely cool, unmold, wrap in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil. Refrigerate the pudding for up to one week or freeze. Thaw frozen pudding. Put the pudding back into its mold, cover with waxed paper or foil, and steam for 1 hour, as above, or until heated through. Serve as above.
Makes about ½ cup
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tbsp. brandy
1. In a small bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on medium until light and fluffy. Add the brandy and beat until smooth.
2. Transfer to a small bowl or crock, cover, and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Return to room temperature before serving.
Cooking Your Way to Christmas: