It is hard to describe just how spectacular this Christmas Pudding is, before we discuss the taste the sheer size is nothing short of spectacular, in fact I can say with some certainty I have never seen a bigger Christmas pudding. The flavor and the light texture are just about perfect, and you can make it in any size tin or bowl you have available, just remember the bigger your pudding is the longer it will take to steam, I used this recipe to make just 2 huge puddings which when cooked weighed over 4.5 kg each and took a total of 11 hours to steam. the first steaming for 8 hours and the second steaming on Christmas morning for 3 hours to heat through, but the effort and the time were worth it, served with Brandy sauce the crew really do enjoy it. Although this recipe calls for suet, I very rarely have suet (Shredded Beef Fat) it when sailing in waters well away from the U.K. so a suitable substitute is chilled butter and the results are just as good.
The first thing we are going to do is soak the fruit. Place all the dried fruit in a large container, boil enough water on the stove to cover the dried fruit, when the water is boiling pour it over the fruit and leave the fruit to soak for 2 minutes then drain. The fruit needs to drain well to remove all surface water and it also needs to cool down, this is why we do this first.
Butter your pudding basins or tins, this recipe is enough to make 2 x 3.5 litre puddings. These are extra large pudding and I use 2 stainless steel mixing bowls as pudding basins. Notice how well buttered they are, made sure you have a good thick layer of butter to grease the bowls.
Mix together all the dry ingredients.
If you are using suet mix the suet in with the dry ingredients, but if you are using Butter grate the butter whilst still chilled so that it stays in small pieces and re-chill the butter when grated, it will look like grated cheese
When the butter is chilled again and in crisp brittle strands add it to the dry ingredients and gently blend in so that the butter is still visible as thin stands, if using suet it will look like grains of rice.
Mix together the eggs, sugar and brandy in a bowl and then add to the dry ingredients and mix well to create and very wet a runny cake batter, Note how the butter still remains visible.
Then add the soaked dried fruit nuts and lemon zest and mix to a wonderful fruity and thick cake mixture.
Spoon the mix into basins or cake tins
Cover the top of the puddings with buttered grease proof paper.
Then cover in aluminum cooking foil ensuring the edge is well sealed, and make sure there is a pleat in the foil to allow for any expansion of the pudding. Although Christmas pudding don't rise much, because they are loaded with fruit and the cake batter is only there hold the fruit together.
Put the into a steamer tray and place in a Rational Oven on the steam setting, and steam for a minimum of 8 hours depending on the size of your pudding. A normal size pudding would be steamed in 3 to 4 hours, but because these pudding are almost 4kg in weight they take a long time to steam. It is almost impossible to overcook this pudding.
When the pudding is cooked allow to cool fully, this could take several hours
The next day warm the outside surface of the pudding basin by dipping in hot water to melt the greased basin and tip your pudding out. I cover a dinner plate in cling film, place it on top of the pudding then turn over the pudding holding the plate in place, the pudding should drop onto the plate it is doesn't just tap the plate and pudding on the bench and it should release
Make some holes using a skewer or wooden cocktail stick and add brandy the pudding. then wrap the pudding in grease proof paper and food wrap and store in a cool place in the dark, or in a fridge.
This pudding can be made months in advance but I have made it a close and 9 days before Christmas and had excellent results. But I like to make it September or October if I can.
On Christmas morning your ovens are going to be very busy and you will have to carefully balance your production, my advice and what I do is steam my pudding very early in the morning between 4 am and 7am before the ovens get really busy then keep my pudding warm still wrapped up it the paper and food wrap until lunch time, the pudding will stay warm and fresh and have perfect eating qualities when lunch time arrives
Serve with hot Brandy Sauce separately
This pudding is so good the crew will talk about it later and for weeks to come.