Grandma Lucy’s Christmas Pudding

Grandma Lucy was a country cook of many years experience – don’t worry about the instructions – EVERYONE knows what they mean! What? Who? Me? So, this is the recipe I received from my daughter – and what I did follows.

Grandma Lucy’s Recipe
1/2 lb butter
1/2 lb brown sugar
5 eggs
1 & 1/2 cups plain flour
1/4 lb breadcrumbs (not real fresh)
1/2 lb dates
6 oz raisins
6 oz sultanas
6 oz currants
2 oz cherries
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1/4 tsp salt
a little Parisian essence
3 tbspns rum or brandy
1 tbsp plum jam

I always sprinkle the pudding cloth with flour to give the pudding a nice outside. You can also sprinkle the pudding with 3 tblspns spirits after cooking and light it to serve.
To serve, boil for 30 mins to reheat but that’s not necessary these days with microwaves.

Very Lucy instructions!

What I did
First, I don’t add salt to anything. Second, I didn’t add the Parisian essence which makes the pudding darker, as I don’t have any. Third – oh woe is me, I forgot the breadcrumbs which make the pudding a bit lighter. Damn! I’ll report back on how it tastes.

1) Put the boiler on to heat the water – enough to come half way up the pudding tin.
2) Grease a pudding basin – I use a stainless steel mixing bowl that fits in the boiler and line well with Gladbake paper or similar – my mother always used brown paper – and let it stand proud of the bowl by about 1 inch.
3) Cut the dates into threes with a small pair of scissors or knife. Add them to the remaining dried fruit (I used about 150gm cherries) and pour the rum/brandy over (I used a lot more than specified because the sultanas looked very dry – that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!) Leave to stand and soak up the alcohol.
3)Add the spices and bicarb to the flour and place in a sifter.
4) Cream butter and sugar.
5) Add eggs, one by one and beat each in well – don’t worry if the mixture looks a bit curdled.
6) Add the plum jam and beat in – home-made if possible. Mine was dated 2006!
7) Add sifted flour and fruit alternately and mix in well. I had used too much brandy and had to make sure I didn’t overwet the mix, but if I’d remembered to put the breadcrumbs in, I’d have soaked them in the remaining brandy and added at this step!
8) Put the mix in the pudding bowl. Cut two sheets of Gladbake to fit and place on top of the mix.
9) Take two sheets of aluminium foil, overlap and make a pleat in the centre to allow for the pudding to expand. Place across the bowl, crumple in to the sides, then tie with string tightly under the bowl’s rim. With extra string create a “hanger” for the bowl that you can use to pull it out of the boiler.
10) Place the bowl on an upturned saucer in the hot water so the water is halfway up the bowl. Bring to the boil then lower the temperature to a simmer and continue to boil with the lid on for 4 hours. Check every 30 minutes or so to make sure there is enough water.
11) Remove from the water; cool; then place in the fridge until day to be used. Either boil the pudding for 30 minutes to reheat OR turn out of the bowl onto a serving plate; cover with plastic wrap and microwave until heated through.
12) If you wish, pour brandy over the hot pudding and ignite to serve at the table. Serve with brandy custard and fresh cream.
14) Spend the rest of the day wishing that you hadn’t eaten so much!!

I’m pleased to report that the absence of breadcrumbs in no way affected our enjoyment of the pudding – it was delicious!

UPDATE CHRISTMAS 2014

1) Remembered the breadcrumbs – white sourdough bread whizzed in the kitchen whiz thing until still largish lumps among the finer crumbs. I think this makes the pudding better.

2)Had no Parisian Essence again,  or plum jam – didn’t notice their absence.

3) Forgot to add the spices to the flour so had to mix in later – no problems.

4) As always, used no peel but lots of extra glace cherries. Yum.

5) Made with organic free range eggs as my Vegan daughter will stretch a point if she knows the provenance of the eggs and approves of the care of the chooks …

6) Substituted Nuttelex for butter (see vegan daughter above) – I have to say I thought this improved the pudding – maybe because my cholesterol is high ; )

7) Very carefully oiled and floured the bowl to make the crust on the pudding — then proceeded to carefully  line with baking paper ……. and wondered why there was no crust …. Perhaps I had 2 slurps of brandy for every one I used in the pud!

This year we ate the pudding cold with  custard for the non vegans and BonSoy custard and/or ice cream for the others (some do stretch a point when Christmas fare is involved). It was truly delicious.

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