Christmas pudding for two

At a glance

Preparation time: 30 mins plus overnight soaking for the fruit

Cooking time: 30 mins plus overnight soaking for the fruit

Christmas this year is going to be a scaled-back affair for many of us, including my husband and I. But I still love a pudding on Christmas Day so I made a smaller one for 2020 – that way, we’re not saddled with pudding until Easter. My godmother, Aunty Nance, used to make the Christmas pudding, complete with real Australian sixpences from the pre-decimal currency days. She’d fill it with booze and make it in about October. I still miss her. Mum would make the creamy brandy sauce to go with it.

In about 1986, Mum made the sauce and there was a splash of brandy left in the bottle. She found my grandfather, never a big drinker, in the kitchen swigging away straight from the bottle. When she asked him what he was doing, he said he thought it would be thrown away and didn’t want it go to waste. He was a child of the Great Depression, after all. Mum said the brandy was for the flambé. Pop, in all his innocence, said, “What’s a flambé?”. I still miss him too.

Aunty Nance’s pudding was seriously rich. Then, in 1989, Mum had a meltdown and decreed that we would no longer have the full hot meal for Christmas dinner. After all, there is something faintly ridiculous about eating something piping-hot and fit for Queen Victoria’s table on an Aussie summer day. So from 1989 onwards, we’d cook the turkey on Christmas Eve, to serve cold with ham and salads on Christmas Day. When it came time to serve Aunty Nance’s pudding, we’d appreciate it because we weren’t exploding with hot turkey and farting out sprouts.

Ingredients

75g dried mixed berries

75g dried cherries

50g currants

50g glacé cherries

25g mixed peel (I like Italian mixed peel from M&S Food but any will do)

50g desiccated coconut

1/3 cup brandy

50g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

70g panko breadcrumbs (any breadcrumbs will do but I like the lighter texture panko breadcrumbs gives to the pudding)

80g light brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon allspice

1 lemon, zest

75g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

Half a Bramley apple, grated

25g flaked almonds

1 large egg, beaten

Foil and baking paper

Instructions

  1. Put all dried fruit and peel into a glass, china or plastic bowl, add the brandy and mix well. Put in the fridge to soak overnight.
  2. The next day, mix the flour, baking powder, breadcrumbs, sugar, spices, lemon zest, butter, apple and almonds in a large bowl. Stir in the boozy mixed fruit then add the egg and mix well.
  3. Lightly grease a small glass or china bowl or pudding basin, cut out a circle of baking paper, and put on the bottom of the bowl.
  4. Spoon in the mixture. It might seem like too much for the bowl but if you squish it in with your fingers, it will fit nicely.
  5. Put a layer of baking paper on top of the pudding and two layers of foil to make a nice lid. Put the kettle on to boil.
  6. Put a small heatproof dish, saucer or trivet in the bottom of a large pot, place the pudding bowl on top and carefully pour the boiling water in until it’s halfway up the side of the bowl.
  7. Cover the pot and steam over a low heat for six hours. Check on the pot every half hour or so to make sure the water levels are not too low and top up with more boiling water as required. As Nana would say, you don’t want to “boil the bum out of the pot”.
  8. After six hours of steaming, carefully remove the bowl from the pot and leave to cool completely.
  9. Store in a cool, dark place until Christmas Day.
  10. On Christmas Day, steam for two hours before serving to reheat.
  11. Serve with cream, ice cream, brandy sauce, custard, sticky toffee sauce – whatever you like. No rules apply here, especially in 2020. If you have any leftover brandy, don’t drink it from the bottle like my grandfather did – pour a little on top and set a match to it for a spectacular flambé.

Image credit: Matt Taylor/Flickr