Category Archives: Pudding

Stirring up for Sunday – Whisky Pudding

The tradition to begin Christmas food preparation, inparticular the Christmas Pudding, begins on Stir up Sunday which is the last Sunday before advent. This year falls it falls on 21st November. The term Stir-up Sunday comes from the first verse of the collect for the day and has been adopted by the Anglican church.

Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Usually I follow this tradition, but this year due to a hectic diary I made my Christmas Pudding a week early. Of all the traditional festive foods the Christmas Pudding is my favourite, it easily wins over Christmas Cake. Even after being full of a traditional Christmas dinner I can always make way for pudding. I can still remember as  child my dad walking in to the dining room with the pudding all alight.

Many people have traditions when making their puddings from stirring from east to west to represent the 3 kings, having a wish when stirring it and placing a silver coin in the pudding mix. In my case the traditions seem to be how much alcohol I can get in the pudding along with praying it will come out of the mould.

One of the main reasons I make my own pudding (and mincemeat for that matter) is that I’m quite a fussy being when it comes to festive fayre. I’m not a big fan of suet being used it in sweet dishes but use grated butter which works just as well. If it says there is alcohol in it I want to be able to taste it and it must be jam packed with fruit. I also like to experiment with flavours and making these foods heralds the beginning of the festive season for me.

Thanks to my lack of Whisky knowledge, sorry Hubs, this may be one of the most expensive Christmas puddings I’ve ever made. Previous years the fruit has been soaked in Guinness. This year I wanted to use whisky as I though Hubs had quite a collection and we could do with using some of it. I picked up the closest bottle to hand, sloshed a generous amount over the fruit then decided to read the bottle. I had only gone and picked up some of Hubs’ expensive whisky and used £15 of it in the pudding. I then had a sip of it and had used a peaty whisky. I will admit this does dominate the flavour of the pudding, but by the time it is served in December the intensity of the whisky should hopefully mellow a bit and the spices become more dominant. If you didn’t want to be so extravagant with the alcohol replace some or all with orange juice.

Since making my own Christmas pudding I’ve always wanted to try a spherical mould for curoisity and nostalgic reasons. Bizarrely it looks a bit like a cyberman. I now know from experience why these moulds have gone out of fashion. Eventhough I had buttered the mould I had a few tense moments getting the pudding out of the mould and did wonder if we were going to get two crumbled hemispheres. Due to the pudding being a sphere we also had a few hairy moments when the newly released pudding started to roll on the worktop, cue flashbacks of On Top of Spaghetti.  This doesn’t mean I wouldn’t use the mould again. It would work really well for other steamed pudding along with desserts like icecream bombe. The coking instruction below are for making it in a pudding basin rather than a mould.

Mrs Cratchit left the room alone — too nervous to bear witnesses — to take the pudding up and bring it in… Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. A smell like a washing-day. That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastrycook’s next door to each other, with a laundress’s next door to that. That was the pudding. In half a minute Mrs Cratchit entered — flushed, but smiling proudly — with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.” Charles Dickens – A Christmas Carol

Whisky Christmas Pudding
makes 1x 2lb pudding

500g luxury mixed fruit
100g dates, chopped
250ml whisky
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange
1 medium bramley apple, peeled and grated
100g cold butter, grated, plus extra for the basin
100g dark muscovado sugar, plus 2 tbsp
100g fresh white breadcrumbs
50g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp ground mace
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp mixed spice
2 eggs , beaten

1) In a large bowl soak the mixed fruit, dates, orange & lemon zest and apple in the whisky for 24-48 hours.

2) Butter a 2lb pudding bowl then lightly coat the butter in 2tbsp of muscovado sugar by slowly tipping and turning the bowl.

3) Add the remaining ingredients to the fruit that has been soaking. Stir until well combined. Spoon into the basin and level.

4) Take a sheet or foil and greaseproof and make a pleat in the middle (this allows for the expanding pudding). Place over the top of the pudding bowl, greasproof paper side down, and fix in place with string.

5) Sit the pudding bowl on top of an upturned heatproof saucer inside a saucepan. Pour boiling water half the way up the pudding. Cover and steam for 6 hours. Top water up as required.

6. Once the pudding is cooked cover with fresh greasproof paper and foil. Store in a cool dry place. To reheat either cook in the microwave (minus the foil), on medium, for 10 or steam for a further hour.


Queen of Tarts

There is something simple, comforting and nostalgic about the humble Jam Tart. For many people it was probably the first thing they cooked with their Mum or Grandma. Making Jam Tarts always reminds me of Home Ec in Secondary School and many of those said tarts didn’t make it home as I would have scoffed them before home time. Back then though I was frankly rubbish at pastry, it would just crumble and fall apart. It put me off pastry for long time and it’s only recently have I got over my Fear of Pastry. I’ve just put Fear of Pastry into good old google and it sent me to a World of Warcraft page?!?…ok I digressed.

The reason behind these tarts is that I’m planning to cook them with my pupils during British Food Fortnight as you can’t get more British Afternoon Teaish than a dainty Jam Tart, plus I have have a set of fantastic 10 year old budding pastry making boys in my class. The kids are aware that they are making Jam Tarts in a few weeks and bless them, they are already excited and talking about it. After baking a Bakewell Tart last year I’ll be baking another traditional Derbyshire dish with pastry for British Food Fortnight this year. If I pull it off I’ll blog about it during the fortnight.

I did experiment with using marmalade in a few of the tarts, but they just don’t work as well and have an amazing ability, akin to superglue, to weld themselves to the bun tin. Given the fact I’ve now mastered pastry I can’t for the life of me make a Jam Tart look refined, I think the best way to describe them would be “rustic”. Anyway since when has a humble Jam Tart been anything but charmingly simple?

Jam Tarts
Makes 12 small tarts

225g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
110g butter
cold water
around 12 tsp jam

1) First get started on the pastry. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl then rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

2) Add the chilled water a small amount at a time and mix with a knife until you have a good dough. Roll into a ball, cover in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 min.

3) Roll out the pastry until around 5mm thick. Using a 3 inch cutter, cut rounds and press gently into a bun tin. Place a generous teaspoonful of jam in the center of each round.

4) Bake at 200oc for 10 min, or until well risen and golden. Allow to cool for 5 min before transferring to a wire rack.

Bara Brith & Butter Pudding

This particular loaf of Bara Brith had been hanging around for a week or two after I made it for my Welsh mother when she visited a few weeks back. To be honest I think we forgot about it in the cake tin as it is a very rare occurrence for cake to be left for a long time in this house. Now I did originally plan to accompany this blog post with a delightful photo of me aged 8 in traditional Welsh dress, but decided my credibility would go down the pan if I did, so you’ll just have to do with a pic of the pudding.

I’m not one to throw perfectly good food away and the nature of Bara Brith means it doesn’t go off very quickly, however it does begin to dry out making it perfect for a bread & butter style pudding. As much as I love feeding the fluffy fledglings with crumbs of cake I wasn’t sacrificing all of this Bara Brith to our feathered friends. I was really pleased how they turned out, with the Bara Brith giving more depth to the pudding than usual bread would. I would be interested to try it with other dry cakes that have gone past their best. We had the puddings with lashings to custard. In my eyes the only way this type of pudding can be served.

Promise I will blog something savory soon!

Bara Brith & Butter Pudding
makes 2 indiviual puddings

6 slices of bara brith (or similar fruit loaf)
75ml milk
40g caster sugar
1/2 vanilla pod
1 egg

1) In a small saucepan mix milk, sugar and vanilla and gently heat until sugar has dissolved. Take off the heat and allow to infuse for 15 min, then remove vanilla pod.

2) Using a circular cutter, cut rounds of the bara brith. Butter both sides and pile into a ramekin. Once the milk has finished infusing whisk in the egg. Pour the custard over the bara brith and leave for 30 to allow the cake to soak up some of the custard. Cover ramekins with buttered foil.

3) Preheat oven to 170oc. Place ramekins in a deep baking pan then pour boiling water into the pan so it is half way up the ramekins. Place in the oven and bake for 40 min. Remove the foil and bake for a further 5 min to brown the top.

Gin & Tonic Jelly

To try and get my cooking mojo back I decided to play around with an ingredient I’ve never used before, gelatine. Of course I’ve made jelly from the well known Rowntree blocks, but never from scratch. First challenge was finding leaf gelatine as the recipe I had was insistent that it had to be leaf gelatine and not the powdered form. I’m also not sure if it would work with vegegel. Most of the supermarkets near me are geared towards people who’s idea of cooking is putting a ready-meal in the microwave for 3 min, so sourcing certain ingredients can be a challenge. A good friend came to the rescue when she noticed some for sale in the supermarket she uses.

I was told about this particular Nigella recipe a few months back and have been wanting to give it a try. Gin & tonic is one of my favourite alcoholic drinks, and the fact it can be made into a dessert is even better! The original recipe serves 8. I halved the recipe or Hubby may never make it to work tomorrow due to a hangover. I don’t own any fancy jelly moulds so served it in tall glasses instead. Because of the alcohol content it takes a great deal longer to set than normal non-alcoholic jelly.

It had a lovely refreshing taste with a pleasing G&T kick. I believe a proper G&T should have lime and not lemon in it so next time may replace the 1 lemon for 3 limes. It would be a perfect BBQ dessert for adults. I’m thinking of using the same technique to make a Pimms jelly with the traditional Pimms fruit suspended in it for my Birthday get together at the weekend.

Gin & Tonic Jelly
Makes around 650ml of jelly (serves 2-4)

150ml plus 25ml water
150g caster sugar
juice and zest of 1 lemon
200ml tonic water (don’t use slimline, it won’t work)
125ml gin
4 sheets of leaf gelatine

1) Put 150ml of the water and the sugar in a saucepan. Boil for 5 min, take off the heat, add lemon zest and allow in infuse for 15 min.

2) Strain into a measuring jug. Add lemon juice, gin and tonic. It should reach the 600ml mark. If not top up with either more lemon juice, gin or tonic.

3) Soak the leaf gelatine in a bowl of cold water for 5 min. Squeeze out the water from the gelatine, then whisk gelatine into 25ml of boiling water. Add a small amount of the lemon syrup to the gelatine then pour this back into the jug of lemon syrup. Stir to ensure it is well combined.

4) Pour into glasses or lightly greased jelly mould. Put in fridge and allow to set for 6 hours.

Summer Pudding

Yet another day of dodging the torrential rain showers. Yesterday after going to the PYO farm and trying to convince myself that yes it is summer (not that the weather wants to make us believe that) I decided to try my hand at Summer Pudding.

The smell of the fruits simmering was glorious. You can’t beat summer fruits. Tonight was the tasting and it was delicious. The tartness of the blackcurrants was matched perfectly with the sweetness of the crème de framboise all finished off with a spoonful of extra thick cream from the local dairy.

Incidently, to find your nearest PYO farm pop along to this great website.
I’ve entered this recipe to Cook Sister’s – WTSIM Blog Event

Individual Summer Puddings
Makes 2

250g summer fruits (I used raspberries, blackcurrants and strawberries)
50g vanilla sugar
4 slices of white bread, minus the crusts
2 tbsp crème de framboise

1) In a saucepan gently simmer the fruit and sugar for 3 min. Don’t over simmer or the fruit will fall apart. You should have the fruit floating in a nice syrup. Allow to cool. Stir in crème de framboise.

2) Line 2 individual pudding basins with cling film. Cut 2 circles of bread just bigger than the base of the pudding basin and 2 circles the size of the top of the pudding basins.

3) Dunk the smaller bread circles into the syrup. Allow the bread to absorb the syrup then place 1 at the bottom of each pudding basin. Share the fruit out between the two basins.

4) Place the larger circle on top of the fruit then drizzle with the remaining syrup, ensuring all the bread is covered. Fold over the remaining cling film and weigh down with a weight (I used weights from my scales). Chill overnight.

5) Turn out onto a plate and drizzle with a small amount of crème de framboise.

A Kind of Key Lime Pie

It could take me a while to write this entry as I have quite a large Pimms induced headache…Above is a photo of our back garden at 8.30 this morning. It was lovely and cool and peaceful. It may be small, but still great for entertaining and relaxing. Our vegetables in the planter are doing far better than the did last year. I was trying to take a photo of Mr Robin who is forever in our garden, but he was being a bit camera shy. Last night we had the first BBQ of the year and christened our new BBQ. Well I say “new” go bought it at the end of Summer 2006, but due to the weather being so awful last year it never made it out of the box.

We cheated slightly and got chorizo sausages and lamb and mint burgers from the butcher, but I made a rack of Alabama pork ribs with a sweet and spicy glaze that was delicious. It was all served with pitta breads, rocket salad plus potatoes, onions and mushrooms that were cooked on the BBQ.

It was washed down with Pimms, River Cottage Stinger Ale, and Schweppes Summer Punch which is a great non-alcoholic Pimms tasting drink.

The pudding was the hardest thing to decide on. In my eyes a perfect BBQ pudding involves glorious Summer fruit like Eton Mess or Summer Tiramasu, but the PYO farm down the road isn’t open yet as it is still a bit early for strawberries and I refuse to spend £2 on a punnet of 8 sorry-looking strawberries from Morrisons. Nigella came to my rescue with a Key Lime pie. It was a perfect, light refreshing end to the BBQ. The one problem I did have, which may be apparent in the photo, is the biscuit base. It just didn’t stick together. I was a bit dubious when I read the recipe for the base, to me it couldn’t possibly work but took my trust in Nigella. Next time I make it I’ll use the base recipe I use in my Baileys Cheesecake. In the recipe below I have included the altered base recipe.

A Kind of Key Lime Pie
Serves 8-12

170g digestive biscuits, crushed
70g butter
Juice and zest of 4 limes
400g can of condensed milk
300ml double cream

1) Melt butter in saucepan then stir in crushed digestive biscuits until thoroughly mixed. Press into 20cm diameter springform tin. Press up the edges a bit to give a crust. Chill for an hour

2) With an electric whisk, beat together the cream, juice, zest and condensed milk until thick and creamy. Pour over base and sprinkle with some of the lime zest. Chill for at least and hour before serving.

Queen of Puddings

Every month Rosie from Rosie Bakes a “Peace” of Cake, runs a blog event based around great British puddings. This month was Queen of Puddings. I haven’t had the pudding before, but have always been intrigued by it. In good old British pudding style it uses simple storecupboard ingredients and/or leftovers.

How this pudding had slipped my pudding radar for so many years, I don’t know! It was pure comfort and at the same time not being too heavy. It would be lovely served with cream or vanilla icecream. The original recipe for Queen of Puddings can be found at Rosie’s link above. As there is only 2 of us I halved it and served it in ramekins.

Queen of Puddings
makes 3 ramekins

35g fresh breadcrumbs, made for day old bread
13g butter
Grated rind of quarter of a lemon
50g caster sugar
1 large egg – separated
1/4 pt of milk (both whole and semi-skimmed work)
4 tsp raspberry jam – heated through

1) Preheat oven to 180oc. Bring to the boil the milk, half of the sugar, butter and lemon rind. Take off the heat then stir in breadcrumbs. Leave to soak for 20 minutes.

2) Beat the egg yolk into the breadcrumb mixture. Pour the breadcrumb mixture into your well buttered ramekins and bake for 15 minutes or until set. Leave to cool for 5 minutes then gently spread the warmed jam over the top.

3) Beat the egg white until stiff, then gently fold in the sugar. Pile the meringue on top of the jam, making sure you spread it to the edges of the dish, sealing in the jam. Bake for a further 20 minutes or until the meringue is set and lightly browned.

Rice Pudding

Although the past few days have been unusually warm for this time of year the nights have been bitterly cold. While the weather is still cold, I crave comfort food. This months edition of delicious has a whole section devoted to British puddings, heaven! Tonight I cooked a rack of lamb with port & cranberry jus and for the last month or so it’s become a tradition to cook a pudding with sunday dinner.

Tonight was the turn of rice pudding. I always have a bag of pudding rice languishing at the back of the cupboard, to be honest I don’t know why supermarkets sell such big bags of pudding rice as you only need a tiny amount to make a pudding…anyway it’s a gorgeous comforting pudding. Be warned it takes a long, long time to cook, but it’s worth it. It tastes far better than any tinned rice pudding.

Rice Pudding (from River Cottage Family Cookbook)
Serves 2

50g pudding rice
25g unsalted butter
500ml whole milk
25g caster sugar (I use my vanilla sugar)
pinch of salt
vanilla pod, slit down the middle

1) Preheat to 150oc. Lightly butter ovenproof dish. Wash rice then mix all ingredients in the dish.

2) Bake for 45 min, remove from oven and stir. Bake for a further 30 min, by this point a skin will have begun to form. Stir again to stop the rice sticking to the bottom of the bowl.

3) Return the dish to the oven yet again and bake for a further 1 – 1.5 hours. If you don’t want a skin cover dish with lid/foil. If it begins to dry out stir in more milk.

Toffee Apple Pudding – The Great British Pudding Challenge

This months Great British Pudding Challenge is Toffee Apple Pudding. There is a copy of the recipe & rules on Rosie’s blog. As there’s just the two of us I halved the recipe and steamed for 55 min in 2 mini pudding basins. In the words of Nigella my pudding looks very *cough* “rustic” thanks to me not greasing the mounds enough. I also meant to serve them with custard. I wasn’t in the mood to make proper custard so was going to use some readymade stuff I had on standby, but the custard tasted so horrible we ended up serving it with whipped cream.

I felt like I was on Masterchef trying to get the puddings on to steam within minutes of the pies being ready. Poor Hubby got quite a shock as he walked into the kitchen to find dirty dishes all over the place. I admit I’m not the tidiest cook, but trying to keep everything on track tonight almost got the better of me!

How NOT to cook a roast dinner & the redeeming clafoutis

Today I had possibly the worst cooking day I’ve had in a long time. I was so looking forward to cooking dinner today…and it went wrong in quite spectacular style.

First I cooked the pork. Rather than my usual lion of pork I brought a rolled piece of pork that had stuffing in the middle. I used my usual tricks to get the skin to crackle, but for some reason it didn’t.

Then I made a smashed potato dish that has 1/2 a head of roasted garlic in it. I’ve made this potato dish before, but rather than traditionally roasting the garlic like I usually do, I decided to use a trick I had read about; nuking the garlic in the microwave. First I blasted some oak smoked garlic we picked up at the Good Food Show…well this turned to dust , thinking the odd reaction was due to the age of the garlic I tried the same trick with some fresh garlic. This time it went rubbery. Rapidly running out of garlic I had to use garlic paste which doesn’t taste anywhere near the same. Lesson learnt – never try and cheat on recipes, it’ll always go wrong!

Thinking everything was back on track I cooked the Yorkshire puddings and started to quickly boil the purple sprouting broccoli. Just as I was about to serve the food, Hubby carved the pork only to find it still pink in the middle. I shoved everything back into the now switched off oven to keep warm while we pan fried the pork. 5 min later we sat down to over-cooked broccoli, dry Yorkie puds, fried pork and fake garlic potato…nothing like I had originally planned

Thankfully, to help rid the glut of cherries Hubby brought earlier on the week, I had made some mini clafoutis. These saved the evening from disaster. I just prey my cooking bad luck is out of the way as I’m planning to cook Hunters Pie tomorrow, something I’ve never cooked before

Mini Clafoutis
Serves 2

14 cherries, stoned
2 tbsp ground almond
1 tbsp plain flour
1 small egg
40g vanilla caster sugar (or normal caster sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract)
80ml milk
pinch of salt
icing sugar

1) Preheat oven to 190oc. Butter and flour two ramekin dishes. Place 7 cherries at the bottom of each ramekin

2) Whisk all of the remaining ingredients (apart from the icing sugar) together until smooth. Pour over cherries. Bake for 15-20 min until risen and golden. Allow to cool for 5 min before eating. Dust with icing sugar.

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