It's not that I don't like Christmas pudding, it's just that, honestly, my heart isn't really in it. And that's probably the reason why I don't often make my own. For that reason (and because it isn't a massive priority for the rest of the family either) it isn't a big part of my festive food plans but I do have 9 truths about Christmas Pudding that I'd like to share in the spirit of maybe making your plans and decisions go a bit smoother.
So here are my 9 truths about Christmas pudding -
- Stick with a classic - If you're going to make your own Christmas Pudding, stick with a classic, trusted recipe. This is not the time for experimentation. If I am going to make my own, I go for this recipe from Delia, the Queen of Christmas.
- You can probably ignore most of the nostalgia and traditions - There's plenty of nostalgia about using traditional pudding basins, topped with greaseproof paper and sealed with rustic string and a few of your best Girl Guide knots. I must admit that I opt for Lakeland's more practical plastic alternative, complete with its own tight fitting lid. This one is the right size for the Delia recipe too.
- But don't ditch all of the traditions - I'm a great believer in choosing the traditions that suit you and if you are going to take the time to make your own Chrsitmas pudding, the tradition of 'stir and make a wish' is a gorgeous one to fully embrace. These photos serve as proof that I haven't made my own Christmas pudding for a number of years but there was definitely stirring and wishing back then. I wonder what they were all wishing for ...
- You can make the 'steaming for hours' part much easier - I must admit that the thought of steaming Delia's Christmas pudding for 8 hours is what makes me want to run for the hills. I know that it isn't a 'hands on' 8 hours, but I still need to be there to make sure that the pan is regularly topped up with boiling water. And I don't much like the idea of that. But here's the thing, I discovered that you can do it really easily in your slow cooker. Here's how -
- For its first steam (the one that involves checking the water for 8 hours) put the basin into the slow cooker and fill it with boiling water so that it comes three quarters of the way up the side.
- Then cook it on HIGH for 10 hours - with no need for constant checking of water levels.
- To reheat it on the day, use the same amount of water and cook it on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 8 hours. It's a huge bonus that there's no need to hog a burner on the hob too.
- Buying a Christmas pudding is often the best option - All of the UK supermarkets do fantastic Christmas puddings and if we have family visiting for the holidays I'll ask them to squeeze one in their suitcase. I'm a big fan of the Good Housekeeping recommendations for all things festive (after all they recommended my Christmas cake back in the day, so clearly they know their stuff) - and here are their recommendations for 2021. This is a great place to start and they have clearly tasted a lot of puddings to curate this list because they really get into specifics -
- best for whole glacé cherries
- best for light sponge
- best boozy
- best organic
- best with cream (isn't that all of them?!)
- Setting light to the Christmas pudding is easier than you think - Bring the pudding to the table and dim the lights. Now warm a little brandy or sherry in a saucepan (not letting it boil) and pour the warm alcohol over the pudding, setting light to it with a long match or a BBQ lighter. Enjoy the ooohs and aaahhs before you dig in. I do all the pyrotechnics part at the table rather than walking with flames in my arms, but you do you.
- You can serve whatever you like with Christmas pudding - Everyone has their favourite accompaniment. For me it's custard (ready-made, preferably Ambrosia from a tin and warm) and plenty of it. We also have fans of ice cream (only vanilla - anything else would be questionable), cream and brandy butter. Or all of the above.
- You can use your microwave for heating and re-heating - Most of the ready-made puddings have microwave instructions as well as a steaming guide and I know which I would choose. And if there are any leftovers, I always use the microwave for heating (try to portion it first rather than heating up the whole thing; this avoids it spending too long in the microwave and getting tough). I actually think I prefer Christmas pudding as leftovers. You know, the kind of leftovers where you're enjoying it as a little afternoon treat with a sneaky glass of wine and a 'made for television' Christmas movie. Now there's a thought ...
- There is no rule that says you HAVE to serve Christmas pudding - the world is full of gorgeous alternative desserts and maybe chosing to serve and enjoy something different is exactly what your Christmas Day needs. I've pulled together a few suggestions here and you will also have plenty of your own.
So there you have it, my 9 truths about Christmas pudding. Make your own if it makes you happy; stir and make a wish if you like that kind of thing; buy an easy, ready-made pudding from the supermarket if that appeals to you; do the setting fire part if you enjoy the drama; choose your favourite accompaniment to eat it with; re-heat the leftovers at your leisure or opt for something totally different to round off the Christmas dinner. Nothing is wrong. You choose ♡