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My sister Margaret is queen of the puddings. She has it down to such a fine art that friends and family just wait in anticipation for the moment when she hands them out.
To be honest I was never a Christmas pudding fan but hers are light, totally exotic, and definitely worth the effort.
This Christmas pudding, in addition to an array of succulent fruit, also contains brandied sea spaghetti, which must be prepared a day in advance and left overnight in a warm place, just as the hot press.
Seaweed used: Sea spaghetti
Serves 6 – 8
Brandied sea spaghetti (left overnight)
20g (3/4oz) sea spaghetti, rinsed in cold water and chopped into 5 mm (1/4 inch) pieces
100ml (3 1/2fl oz) boiling water
1 generous teaspoon of honey
a good dash of brandy
1.8kg (4lb) pudding bowls x 2
Enough grease-proof paper and tinfoil to cover the mouth of each bowl, leaving a 2.5cm (1 inch) overlap
450g (1lb) of butter
225g (8oz) soft brown sugar
450g (1lb) raisins
450g (1lb) sultanas
225g (8oz) glace cherries
450g (1lb) dried fruit, any combination, see dried fruit suggestion below / opposite
juice of one lemon
225g (80z) mixed nuts, almonds, pecans, walnuts
115g (4oz) crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ground cloves
225g (8oz) breadcrumbs
About 225ml (1 cup) of alcohol, brandy or whiskey, grappa or any good spirit. Not wine or beer.
225g (8oz) plain flour
1 large carrot, grated
To prepare the brandied sea spaghetti
Soak the chopped seaweed in the water, honey and brandy, cover, and leave overnight in a cool oven 40°C / 150°F or a warm place, like the hot-press.
Dried fruit suggestion
85g (3oz) sour morello cherries
55g (2oz) baby figs, chopped
85g (3oz) dried pears
85g (3oz) dried cranberries
85g (3oz) dried blueberries
55g (2oz) dried peaches
To prepare the pudding
1. In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and the sugar together. Stir in the fruit and nuts followed by the spices and breadcrumbs. Add the alcohol and the flour. Stir well, cover with a clean towel and leave overnight in a cool place.
2. Next day add the eggs one at a time. Crack each egg into a cup, check for freshness, and beat each in mixing well. Grease the pudding bowls with butter.
3. Add the brandied sea spaghetti and grated carrot, stir very well again and fill the mixture into the pudding bowls.
4. Cut circles 2.5cm (1 inch) wider than the lid out of tinfoil and grease-proof paper. Fit this layer of grease-proof paper followed by the layer of tinfoil, leaving an overlap of 2.5cm (1 inch) over the top of the bowl. Secure lid snugly over the 2 layers.
5. To steam: Place each covered pudding bowl in the bottom of a large saucepan. Add enough boiling water to come 2/3rds of the way up the bowl. Cover with a lid and simmer for 4 – 5 hours. Top up with hot water every hour. Water should be simmering up the sides of the bowl but not over it.