This year I put my hand up to make the Christmas pudding. Ever since I can remember, this has been the sacred domain of my mother. She does a fantastic job. Every year the pudding is amazing. Packed full of fruit and nuts combined with the heady scent of alcohol and all things good, it has always tasted fantastic. When I was a child I remember her making the pudding months ahead, boiling it up for hours and wrapping in a well used calico cloth. It would then be hung up above the oven, waiting for Christmas to arrive. It seemed to me that the hanging of the pudding signalled the beginning of the countdown to Christmas.
This year I accepted the challenge and said I would do it – I was surprised that my mother would hand this task down to me and so I have been determined to do a really good job.
Unfortunately, due to work and being tired and just generally forgetting how fast time seems to go these days, I kept thinking I would get around to making the pudding and of course I didn’t. Finally, this weekend I decided to get it done. I have my trusty Thermomix which makes everything so much easier so I looked up a recipe (just the right one proved harder to find than I thought) and I spent a small fortune on ingredients and away I went.
The first issue arose – no pudding cloth. I searched high and low and alas, there was none to be found. The young chap I asked in Big W as to where I might locate such a thing repeated the words “pudding cloth” somewhat doubtfully, as though I had spoken to him in some alien tongue. “We don’t have those” he said, clearly having no clue what I was asking for.
Upon arriving home I remembered I had a piece of calico in amongst my fabric remnants and everything was good to go again. At least that is what I thought. When going over the recipe again I realised I had forgotten to get brandy or rum. But I had rum essence and I decided that was good enough. Then I saw the recipe said to soak the fruit in rum overnight. Nope. No time for that. So I forged ahead regardless. Then I noted the recipe called for breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs? In Christmas pudding? No. That’s not happening either.
As I read on I realised it was much more complicated than I had anticipated. I therefore cobbled together a recipe which was a mix of a traditional pudding from an old recipe book and a couple of the Thermomix recipes and if the batter is anything to go by then the finished product should be amazing.
The batter was way too runny so I added about a kilo of flour, mixed it up, put it in the pudding cloth and got ready to boil. The kitchen smelled Christmassy and delicious and I was very pleased with myself. Until I realised the pudding was too big for the pot. Recalling my big clean out a couple of months ago I cursed myself for throwing out the big pot I hardly used anymore. Still, I was determined to forge ahead.
I ended up trying to boil and steam at the same time, and of course, I got distracted and forgot to keep an eye on the water level which promptly boiled away and burned the bottom of the pudding. Horrified, I pulled the entire uncooked thing to pieces, put the mixture in a bowl, ran the only piece of calico I have through the wash and started again. And then I burned it again. Give me strength.
Finally I figured it had boiled enough, I then flipped it over and let the top part boil. It doesn’t seem terribly well cooked but I am too scared to look.
My mother is having 25 for lunch on Christmas day. I sincerely hope that this thing turns out okay otherwise I don’t think I will be allowed to make the pudding again. I am sorely tempted to purchase a back up from the supermarket just in case. At best it will be a delicious dessert at the end of our Christmas lunch. At worst it will be another Christmas story “remember when Alice made the pudding…”. I sincerely hope it’s the former.
* Note: the picture above depicts what I hope my pudding will look like. There is no guarantee what I serve up on Christmas day bear any resemblance to this.