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 (just Google 'Good Housekeeping best Christmas puddings') after all, they recommended my Christmas cake back in the day, so clearly they know their stuff). Their recommendations are 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 ♡