Sun, 21 December, 2014
Honestly – who appreciates Christmas pudding? After hours stuffing themselves silly, turkey fit for a forensic archaeologist, Auntie Jean at least tipsy, Grandad discretely burping, Uncle Connor telling an interminable story that seems to have had no beginning either… please.
Even sober, it’s a gloopy, gooey, steamed affair, over boozed so kids won’t touch it, in fact I won’t either for that reason. I’m all for booze, and for cakes, but not thrown together. The booze makes cakes bitter, that’s all it does, unless it’s just a couple of spoonfuls thrown in the fruit to soak, or a glug of port into the mincemeat – that’s flavour, half a litre of brandy in a small cake isn’t.
I’ve suggested here and successfully served lighter desserts on Christmas day, like buche de Noel or filled meringues – classic pudding is just too much.
But if you will, and if you want a tastier variety – here goes. A cross between a carrot and date cake, a lighter sticky toffee pudding, baked not steamed, sauce still served – this is the one to try. Bake it ahead, freeze it, freeze the sauce, freeze the whole damn lot and best serve it on New Year’s Eve – people will appreciate it more. After a few canapés rather than half a turkey.
The pud recipe, slightly modified, is from the BBC Good Food, and the sauce is genius – and Gordon Ramsay’s. If you wish to make them: candied orange slices from the orange tartlets recipe.
christmas puddingServings: 6-8 portionsTime: 3 hours
- 13g soft stoned dates
- 60g walnuts, shelled
- 1 small carrot, grated
- ½ dessert apple, peeled, cored and grated
- 1tbsp golden syrup
- 2tbsp brandy
- 70g butter, at room temperature
- 2 medium eggs, beaten
- 90g caster sugar
- 110g plain flour
- 1tsp baking powder
- 1tsp baking soda
- a handful of raisins
- For the sauce:
- 250g caster sugar
- 4tbsp water
- 140ml double cream
- 50g butter
- 1tsp good quality sea salt (optional)
1. Blitz the dates briefly in a blender or chop very finely. Blitz the walnuts to coarse chunks. In a food processor or using an electric mixer blend the dates, the walnuts, the carrot, apple, golden syrup and brandy. Add the butter, sugar and eggs and beat until well combined. Stir the baking powder and bicarb of soda into the flour, add to the date mix and beat in. Stir in the raisins.
2. Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas 3, with a baking sheet placed on the middle rack. Butter a 1 litre pudding dish and place a disc of parchment at the bottom. Pour the mix into the dish, smooth out the surface and bake for 1 hr 20 mins – 1 hr 30 mins or until a skewer inserted into the pudding comes out almost clean. If the pudding is browning too much at the top, cover it loosely with foil halfway through the baking time.
3. Make the sauce: place the sugar with the 4 tbsp. of water in a small pan and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. When the caramel looks clear, take it off the heat and beat in the cream and butter, and the salt, if you fancy. It can be re-heated in a microwave or in a bain-marie before serving.
4. Turn the pudding out onto the dish when still warm, decorate with candies orange slices if you have any and drizzle over the sauce.