If you are thinking of making a traditional British Christmas Pudding, now is a great time to do start. There are those who would argue with this, citing Stir Up Sunday (on 20th November this year) as the day for pudding making. However, many of the British cooks I know don’t stick to this custom, as Christmas puddings improve with keeping – in some cases, the more, the better. The flavours mingle and intensify, making a traditional pudding the dessert most British families would not be without on Christmas Day.
I say this, rather controversially, as someone who does not generally like Christmas pudding. I find the texture of most Christmas puddings very heavy, and the flavours quite strong. However, once in a while I come across a pudding that tastes ambrosial – light, fragrant, flavourful and fruity. Some of my favourite puddings so far come from a company called The Carved Angel. As well as the more traditional variety, they make puddings flavoured with Apples and Cinnamon and Chocolate and Ginger. One of their Christmas puddings is even made with White Chocolate and Cranberry. The traditionalists amongst us may balk at these ‘modern’ variations, but my goodness, these puddings are tasty!
Another Christmas pudding I love is the version made every year by the iconic Ritz Hotel in London. As well as enjoying it in their restaurants, you can buy their puddings to take home and serve at your own table. Of course. the team at the Ritz make so many puddings they use huge quantities of ingredients, but I am sure they have quite a lot of fun making them!
This year, for the first time, their Executive Chef John Williams has shared his recipe for The Ritz Christmas Pudding, in a much more manageable quantity (to serve 6). This wonderfully delicious, boozy concoction is definitely on my Christmas baking list – although as we plan to be in New York City for Christmas we will enjoy it when we are home again on New Year’s Day.
Click here for the recipe. Don’t be alarmed by the long list of ingredients, or the fact that you need to allow the mixture to ferment. The mixture is well steamed in the end, so this causes no problems. The measurements are metric and most of them are by weight, but if you are based outside of the UK, you can buy digital kitchen scales in most larger kitchen stores. (I have seen them in Williams Sonoma in both the US and Canada, as well as online.) They are definitely a worthwhile investment if you like to cook from recipes around the world. Most of the ingredients are available worldwide, with the exception of mixed spice. This is actually a blend of easily available well-known spices and you can read more about it here.
Making this pudding may seem like a long winded process, as it takes few days to prepare, but not only is it very rewarding, the actual hands on work is not that time consuming. Much of the dried fruit can be bought already washed these days so aside from quite a lot of measuring, there is little hard work involved. It’s a fantastic way to enjoy a little bit of British tradition on Christmas day, wherever you may be!