Monday, November 1, 2010
If you followed the Christmas Pudding Recipe, you'll have a big bowl of rich Christmassy stuff in the fridge. Now you're going to boil it. For six hours.
You obviously need to plan this so you'll be around for six hours. You'll need some tinfoil, some butter muslin, some greaseproof paper, a little butter and a 2 litre Pyrex bowl. Oh, and some kitchen string. Cut two rounds of greaseproof paper using the bowl's rim as a guide.
Butter the bowl well and slosh the pudding mix into it. Top this with the disks of greaseproof and then fold a double layer of muslin over the top. Tie this under the rim of the bowl with some kitchen string, making sure it's good and tight. If you're feeling clever, tie the last loop of string over the bowl to act as a handle - as long as the string's good and tight (and so won't slip over the lip and send the bowl tumbling), you'll have a handy burnt-finger saving handle.
Fold a couple of feet of tinfoil up to make a square pad and place this on the base of a largeish pan, adding the pudding. Ideally you should use a pan that leaves space around the pudding bowl because you're going to need to pour boiling water into the pan without soaking the pudding. The foil pad acts in place of an upturned plate in keeping the pudding clear of the hotter base of the pan. Boil up a kettle of water and pour this into the pan, turning on the heat and topping the pan up to a couple of centimetres short of the rim of the bowl. And set it to a gentle boil. Cover and find something better to do with your time, returning every 30 minutes or so to check and top up the water. Six hours later, stop doing this and let the pudding cool.
When the pudding's good and cold (probably the next day), remove the muslin and greaseproof and give the pudding a good poke with a sharp stick all over. Pour brandy over the top so that it soaks into the holes, then cover the pudding with another couple of disks of greaseproof and some more muslin. At this stage, I usually tie the muslin down with masking tape as its easier to remove it for topping up sessions.
Every week or so leading up to Christmas, pull the pudding out of the deep recess in your fridge and give it a slosh of brandy. Re-tie the coverings and pop it back again.
On the day, you need to allow two hours for the pudding to cook. Do the whole tinfoil pad/pan thing again and boil it up as before. Upend it on a warm serving dish and slip some nice warm brandy over the top. Ignite and serve with the lights out.