Devising the ultimate Christmas pudding.
I have decided to make my first ever Christmas pudding. I am an avid at-home baker, and I would say that I have a decent level of expertise, I have made dobos Torte, Spaniche Windtorte, Macarons, Sachertorte, cakes, pies, bakes and of course steamed puddings. I'm British so love a good steamed pud!
However, I've never before attempted to make an Xmas pudding. I've had a look at the numerous recipes available on the web and have decided I want to take the best of all that I have seen (reading reviews and comments etc).
My ultimate pudding will (in theory) contain:
- Alcohol (obviously) - Guinness/Ale, Rum and Brandy. I want a good boozy put, but I don't want the diners to end up pickled!
(I am also unsure as to whether to have Cointreau in it, however I think as there will be brandy, orange juice, and orange and lemon zest in there Cointreau might be overkill )
- Mixed dried fruits - Raisins, Currants and Sultanas (These will be soaked in some of the various alcohols before using. Timing however is where I am floundering. Some recipes say soak overnight and some say for a WEEK!
I (being the hedonistic glutton that I am), am leaning towards the week soaking (in the fridge).
- Mixed Peel - I will buy it whole and chop it myself if possible.
Although I want it in there, I hate it when you get a great whacking chunk, I feel it throws off the texture of the pudding.
- Glace Cherries - I will chop some and keep some either whole or halved for that luxury Christmas pudding feel.
- Dried Figs or Prunes (or both?) - chopped obviously, to add depth of flavour, caramel notes, moistness and richness.
I want the pudding to taste fruity, and not just like dried fruit. Will both be overkill?
- Nuts - Almonds, Should I have another type?
I was considering pecans for their smoky caramel flavour, and I have seen hazelnuts used. but again, will that be overkill?
- Orange and Lemon Zest + Orange Juice (I will not be using lemon juice as I don''t want it to be too sour)
- Breadcrumbs (white, fresh)
- Suet (Vegetarian)
- Flour - will self-raising/self-rising result in a lighter pud than plain/all-purpose?
- Grated Apple (Bramley Apples for their very sharp flavour, I'm thinking this will add moistness to the pudding, without extra sweetness, and will hopefully help to balance out the dried fruit)
- Carrot? I have seen a few versions that I lot of people rave about containing both apple AND carrot.
I like the idea, particularly if I'm adding Pecans to the nuts mix. Thoughts?
- Ginger - I like the idea of adding ginger, to give a lift to the finished pudding, and to make it a little different.
I am however stuck as to whether this should be crystalised Ginger (would Americans call it Candied?) or Stem Ginger. I am thinking that crystalised would be more obvious, but that the texture might be nice?
- Spices - Mixed Spice, Cinnamon, Ground Ginger, Grated Nutmeg, Ground Cloves
- Treacle - for that dark, sticky richness, and good caramelisation
- Golden Syrup - To replace part of the treacle (instead of using only treacle) to keep the pudding a bit lighter?
- Sugar, I'm thinking Muscovado (Dark Brown) to compliment the treacle.
But maybe a mix of dark and white, again to keep the pudding a little lighter, but still aid in a good caramelisation.
I have a few things I am considering:
- The addition of some chopped Ginger (Candied or Stem?) for a little lift to the pudding
- How to have the right ratio of flour, suet, breadcrumbs and apple/carrot to create a moist and light pudding
- I want the pudding to have a nice variety of fruits (mixed dried and figs/prunes), to create a fruity, moist and sticky texture without being claggy and cloying on the palate, or overly sweet and just too much fruit
- I want to feed my pudding over the next few months until Christmas. Should I stick with one alcohol (I'd use brandy), or brandy AND rum alternately, or a bit of everything going into the pudding?
- I have looked at quite a few recipes on the Internet, and have heard great things about the Carved Angel/Eliza Acton's Recipe, it is supposed to be light ( I am thinking this will be the ratio of fruit to flour and, flour to suet and, the addition of the grated apple)
- I have also heard good things about the Ritz, which is similar in flavour to what I am trying to produce (including the ginger), however it contains milk (which I don't want to use for keeping proposes) and Madeira wine and bitter, (I am considering the addition of Cointreau).
Apparently an good Christmas Pudding should be:
As Dark as Night
As Rich as Croesus
As Fruity as a Tart
As Drunk as a Lord
TO SUM IT ALL UP
Thought on my choice of flavours? Or notes on any of the ingredients? Any ideas on how to achieve the balance of lightness, richness, boozyness and fruityness? And any thing else!
All Pudding wisdom (Christmas or Otherwise) will be much appreciated!