Miss Windsor excitedly presents Mrs Beeton’s Traditional British Christmas Pudding recipe - a frightfully fruity, remarkably rich, temptingly moist, and abundantly boozy classic festive dessert, which I discovered buried deep within my culinary bible - the 1906 edition of Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management - page 939, to be exact - How spiffing!
And I must say, what thrill it was, although rather laborious, to step back in time to the late 1800's and re-create an age-old recipe following traditional methods. And so, with a whole day set aside, and with my great great grandmother Georgina in mind, I wished to experience the joys of a Victorian 19th-century cook, slogging away in the kitchen as one prepares for the Christmas Day feast - well, so far, just the Christmas pudding!
I dare say, darlings, my great great grandmother Georgina would've whipped up an abundance of Christmassy creations in her quaint Somersetshire kitchen, including a stonker of a Christmas pudding, to be devoured on Christmas Day by my great great grandfather Henry and their gaggle of 9 children. By Jove! she must've had the patience of a saint, as one may know, Christmas puddings take around 4 to 5 hours to steam!
Now, a little history lesson about the world-famous Christmas pudding. It originates from England and began life in the 14th century as a pottage called 'frumenty', which was a kind of broth type soup made with beef/mutton, wine, spice, and fruit. Then it evolved over the years until the Victorians referred to it as plum pudding, or by the common title of Christmas pudding. Please note – plums refer to raisins or any kind of dried fruit – My word! you learn something new every day.
Also, did you know that Victorian Christmas puddings, or maybe before such era, were made with chopped beef suet, mixed fruit, spices, candied peel, and so on? I say, nor did I, until I carried out some thorough research. And so, I discovered there are many recipes out there for Christmas pudding - some require sugar, maybe an egg or four, a hunk of butter, lemon juice, nuts, honey, and of course, a wineglassful of rum or brandy - now we're talking!
Darlings, in addition to one wineglassful of rum, it was my intention to re-create an exceedingly rich and moist version of Mrs Beeton’s Christmas pudding, so I roughly chopped the dried fruit, then soaked it for a week (few days will suffice) in dark Lambs Navy Rum. I say, thank goodness for Alfred Lamb who in 1849 created this exquisite alcoholic beverage with no fewer than 18 rums from Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Guyana.
I then added dark brown sugar, in fact, the original version called for no sugar at all, and I also opted for brown breadcrumbs instead of white.
You see, I believe all these additions actually deepen the colour and prevents your pudding from looking rather ‘anaemic’ – now, we wouldn’t want that would we! Oh, and I must say, following a Victorian yet religious tradition one should make their Christmas pudding on the last Sunday before Advent begins, but a couple of weeks before Christmas day will do the trick!
Oh dear! I expect some of you are you're wondering what the heck is Stir-Up Sunday? In brief, it's a special time when family gather together and take it in turns to stir the pudding mixture, whilst making a wish for the year ahead. Traditionally charms were added such as a silver coin which represents wealth – and there you have it!
So, before you have a jolly ol’ go at re-creating this heavenly pud, Miss Windsor suggests you make two generous sized puddings, instead of an extra-large one – as Mrs Beeton recommends – that would feed a ginormous family of ten!
Therefore, serve one this year, then having spoon fed your second pud with dark rum or brandy all year round, it will have matured by intensifying the flavours, thus improving the texture in readiness for your next festive knees up!
Oh, and before I forget, if you're part of the health-conscious community, that being you're gluten-free or a lacto-ovo-vegetarian (this type can eat eggs) then one may opt for vegetable suet, gluten-free flour, gluten-free breadcrumbs - or one may use ground almonds instead - voila! And just for the record, I have experimented with all of the above, and I must say although it turned out slightly paler in colour, it was indeed a culinary triumph!
By the way, at present our trusty British household name of Atora has not created a gluten-free type of suet. However, I've carried out a bit of research and luckily I discovered a gluten-free / vegetarian suet by WWW.NATURALLYGOODFOOD.CO.UK.
Darlings, please do enjoy every mouthful with a drop or two of brandy butter, thick cream or Birds custard!
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MISS WINDSOR
Preparation time: 45 mins
Cooking time: 3 to 5 hours (depending on size of pudding basin)
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