This is Part Two of a mega-epic undertaking to make a real Christmas pudding. Also check out Part One, in which the pud gets cooking and Part Three, in which the pud is lit on fire and devoured.
Oh it’s a looker, that Christmas pudding.
I hope you disabled the sarcasm detector on your computer before reading that last line, or else BAM! Where’s the needle? It broke clean off.
When we last saw our Christmas pudding it had just been mixed, stirred, steamed for eight hours, covered, stuffed into a dark pillowcase, and shoved to the back of a cool, dry kitchen cabinet to sit for several weeks. The CIA would have been proud. In today’s post we take a look at what weeks of soaking in brandy have done to our dense ball of fruit, liquor and holiday cheer. Oh, and beef fat. Don’t forget the beef fat.
The pudding had been sitting in its deep, dark, boozy cave for two weeks before our whole gang got together again to witness its baptism by liquor. Sean, the keeper of the pudding, had been making sure it didn’t dry out, but the rest of us hadn’t laid eyes on the thing since it went into its steaming pot a fortnight before. What? It’s a Victorian recipe, I can say fortnight. When all the various layers finally came off the bowls, we stared in awe, for the first time, at… uh…
… Mom always said that if you can’t say something nice don’t say it at all, but I can say something nice, and I swear I’m going to get to it later, but first I need to deal with my first impressions and warn anyone who may try this at home that the pud, in mid-curing process, looks pretty disgusting. It is more solid and cake-like in its consistency, but after eight hours of cooking and the two weeks of soaking, the whole thing reaches a dark, homogenous shade of brown and you can just barely make out the anonymous lumps of dried fruit from the pudding they are suspended in. It kind of looks like cold chili. Or a muddy terrazzo floor.
WOW, what salesmanship. If I didn’t sell you on this recipe last week with tales of raw beef fat, then dingy terrazzo is sure to seal the deal. Here’s the thing though: it smells delicious. When I got my face close up, to scope out that cake-y consistency, I was hit by the most amazing aroma, and while a saying that a Christmas pudding “smells like Christmas” is a cliché that could get my poetic license revoked, your nose could honestly be fooled into thinking you were in a house where half a dozen different winter dishes were cooking. The pud smelled sweet, from the candied fruit; caramelly, from the brown sugar (and the rum?); spicy, from the cinnamon, cloves and mixed spices; alcoholic, from the Guinness, rum, and brandy. And it did not, to my relief, smell the least bit beefy. The bits of suet completely dissolved during cooking, and melted into the mixture just like butter would. Relieved and intrigued, we toasted our puddings’ prospects with a round of hot toddies and got to work.
Recipe-wise, this week is pretty simple:
Curing a Christmas Pudding
(2 minutes, every week or so while curing)
A Christmas pudding
1. Sprinkle booze on pudding.
Both puddings were slightly damp and sticky to the touch. One had a tiny bit of rum pooled on the side. On it, we sprinkled one tablespoon of brandy. On the drier one we sprinkled two. Then both went back into the cabinet for a few more weeks.
The saga continues next week with the final installment of the Christmas Pudding Tales. Stay tuned.
Jonathan Bensick hails originally from Oakland, California, has also lived in St. Louis, MO and Florence, Italy, and now resides in a two-bit Southern California burg named El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora de la Reina de Los Angeles del Rio de Porcuincula where, at the risk of jinxing himself, he is 38% of the way to being a licensed Architect. His latest non-pudding post for us was A Passage to Indian Food, or an Indian-ventory of Spices.