Cakes have been baked, and puddings have been steamed. Oh yes, "stir up" Sunday produced a flurry of activity, none of which the cat agreed with. As far as he was concerned, all attention should be focused on the sofa, the first One Day International cricket match between England and South Africa, and, quite frankly, giving him as much attention as possible.Alas, I was not obliging. Instead I have spent the majority of the day aproned-up covered in puffs of flour and icing sugar, in a haze of steam, attempting to get test products baked and photographed before the inevitable disappearance of natural light.
Wait a minute! Test products? I hear you exclaim, I thought this post was all about Christmas preparation.
Well, it is. Sort of. You see I've been in a bit of a slump. I have grand plans, I really do, but am a bit unsure of quite how to go about them. So a while ago I decided that baby steps were the only way to kick me out of stasis and get me going. And of course what better time for me to choose than the run up to Christmas. Nothing much going on around that time is there!
You see, I've decided to try my hand at opening a little online shop over at Etsy! I'll be selling handmade and homemade baked goodies, and hopefully the odd piece of knitting or sewing. Oh and a print or two. I have spent the last couple of weeks thinking about and testing products, and hopefully on December 1st I'll go live!
I thought you'd all like the sneak preview and heads up. If you fancy a spot of festive foodie goodness, head over on December 1st and you'll see what's up for grabs. I might even throw an offer or two into the mix.
In the midst of this I have of course also been trying to get more personal Christmas things sorted. Like the making of puddings. Last year we had the Great PhD Pudding Stir-Up. This year it was just me. Needless to say I had to adapt the recipe somewhat so I didn't end up with twenty puddings! Instead I have just two and they smelled rather lovely steaming all afternoon. I did of course stir and make a wish, and asked N to do so too. Last year I shared the ingredients list for all twenty puddings, this year I thought I would give you the scaled down version. Okay, a little late to make your pudding on stir-up Sunday, but I highly recommend it. There really is nothing quite like producing a homemade pudding at Christmas, aflame with hot brandy.Oh, and don't forget to give it a stir and make a wish. They taste better holding wishes, I promise.
Christmas Pudding - Makes two 700ml puddings.
This is my own take on a traditional recipe. You can swap in and out things you like. For example, although I love nuts, I just can't abide them in my pudding, so I don't bother. But if you want them in there, who am I to stop you. (wrong as you are!)
Also, you need to start this the night before as the fruit needs soaking. Just to warn you.
Before you start you will need either two traditional ceramic pudding bowls, lined with first buttered parchment paper, and then muslin, or two plastic modern pudding bowls well buttered. You will also need two disks of parchment paper, with a fold in the middle go on top of the pudding basins while they steam (the fold allows for expansion).
63g mixed peel
50g unsulphured apricots
38g dark glace cherries
1 apple, grated (but you don't have to peel it first)
juice/zest of one orange
125g vegetable suet
175g light muscovado sugar
125g brown bread crumbs
88g self-raising flour
1 tsp mixed spice.
Firstly, put all the dried fruit in a bowl, pour over the brandy and leave over night. The liquid won't cover the fruit, but don't worry, just give it the odd stir.
In a large bowl mix together the apple, orange juice and zest, the eggs, suet, sugar, breadcrumbs and flour. The add all the dried fruits and any remaining liquid. Stir together (whilst making a wish), and then divide between the two pudding basins. Place the disks of parchment over the top and tie down with string around the edge. Steam for three and a half hours (!) and then leave to cool.
When cool seal the pudding basins. Do this with a double layer of cling film across the top of the plastic basins before popping on the lids, or by wrapping the traditional pudding basins with parchment and then foil (I do this to make doubly sure they'll still be okay by Christmas).
On the day you'll need to heat them for further three hours of steaming, or if by heating in a microwave for 3-5 minutes depending on your wattage. To serve turn out onto a place, douse with heated brandy and light! Bring to the table aflame, and then serve with lashings of brandy butter and clotted cream. Yum!