Berries-and-cherries Christmas pudding

At a glance

Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus at least an overnight for soaking the berries and cherries

Cooking time: 30 minutes, plus at least an overnight for soaking the berries and cherries

Yes, yes, I realise the picture looks like a bowl of squishy brains, but as this is my 2021 Christmas pudding, I can’t photograph the finished product until Christmas Day. By then, it will be too late to make a 2021 Christmas pudding, so at least the picture gives you a clue as to how it should look before it is steamed for six hours. And I made this pudding just as the news filled with stories of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, so I have probably waved the curse bone at Christmas by enthusiastically making a pudding to feed about 11 people in the north of England. Oh well, if Christmas is cancelled for the second year in a row, there will be plenty for my husband and I, as well as some to treat any neighbours who might also be stranded in London.

This pudding aims to please those who say they don’t really like Christmas pudding. The main reasons for this seem to be that it’s too heavy, too dense, too much after eating roast turkey and a pile of vegetables, and people don’t really dig desserts that are full of currants. So, this Christmas pudding ditches the currents and mixed peel for festive berries and cherries. This gives a pleasing pinkish tinge to the batter and the glace cherries are like little pieces of stained glass throughout.

To ensure the pudding is a bit more cake-like and less like a squishy, dense slab that could double as wall insulation, I’ve used golden breadcrumbs (or panko breadcrumbs work well), golden caster sugar, instead of mountains of brown sugar and a little coconut essence. Coconut chips and flaked almonds keep the texture interesting.

And affordability is important at Munching Matilda – among the ingredients are tinned raspberries, tinned black cherries and glace cherries, all from Asda. Tinned fruit works really well here as it’s never dry and it keeps really well, especially after it has been soaking in brandy. I had my berries and cherries soaking in brandy for a week before I made the Christmas pudding last night, but if time is tight, an overnight soaking will do the job.

Presuming we will be able to travel up north for Christmas this year – yes, I do have a special method for transporting Christmas pudding in a Volkswagen Polo – I will be serving it with brandy cream cheese ice cream for the adults. Click here for the Nigella-inspired ice cream. And for the kids, I’m thinking popping candy ice cream…

Ingredients

150g dried cranberries

1 tin black cherries, syrup drained

1 tin raspberries, syrup drained

200g glace cherries

Brandy for soaking (I just bought a £6 bottle from Asda, there really is no need to buy the top shelf stuff)

150g coconut chips

1 tablespoon coconut essence

50g flaked almonds

110g golden breadcrumbs

150g plain flour

160g golden caster sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons each of ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground ginger and allspice

Juice and zest of one lemon

1 green apple, grated

150g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

2 large eggs, beaten

Enough water to fill the kettle.

Foil and baking paper

Instructions

  1. Put all the berries and cherries into a container, steep in enough brandy to cover the fruit but don’t create a swimming pool of brandy. Leave overnight or a bit longer, if time permits.
  2. Once the berries and cherries have soaked, mix the flour, baking powder, breadcrumbs, sugar, spices, lemon juice and zest, butter, apple, almonds, coconut chips and coconut essence in a large mixing bowl. I find using a table knife makes the mixing easier than the traditional wooden spoon.
  3. Stir in the brand-soaked berries and cherries then add the beaten eggs and mix well, ideally with the table knife.
  4. Lightly grease a glass or china bowl or pudding basin. Put the bowl onto baking paper and trace a circle around the base – cut the circle out and place in the bottom of the bowl.
  5. Spoon in the mixture, squishing it in with the back of the spoon. Put a layer of baking paper on top of the batter and then use two pieces of foil to make lid.
  6. Put the kettle on to boil. While it’s boiling, put a trivet or small heatproof plate in the bottom of a big pot – it needs to be big enough to fit the pudding bowl with the lid on.
  7. Place the bowl in the pot on the trivet or plate and carefully pour in the boiling water until it comes halfway up the side of the bowl. Do not get any water into the batter.
  8. Put a lid on the pot and steam over a low heat for six hours. Check the water levels regularly to make sure it’s not getting too low and top up from the kettle as required.
  9. After six hours of steaming, leave it to cool and then carefully remove the bowl from the pot. Store in a cool, dark place until Christmas Day. Once a week, add a few tablespoons of brandy to “feed the pudding”.
  10. On Christmas Day, serve with cream, ice cream, custard or brandy sauce.