Northern Mummy

General thoughts and wittering about all sorts of things

Taking the plunge

on November 18, 2011

I’ve decided to try some new recipes this year.  I’ve already had a go at Granola but it wasn’t a resounding success – it fell victim, as so many things have in the past, to the Curse of the Over-zealous Oven and I had to throw it away.  I will try it again, perhaps nearer Christmas if I get time, but I won’t be giving it as a gift this year as I want to perfect the cooking time and also a recipe which tastes really Christmassy.   I’ve seen a recipe for Stollen which I’d quite like to try, as I love it (I’ve already devoured most of a pack of Lidl mini ones this year, before No-snack November began), but I’m not confident about bread so I’m going to need a few quiet moments to think about what I’m doing before I tackle that.  The other thing I’ve never made before, which may come as a surprise, is Christmas Pudding.

I’ve tried my hand at “alternative” puddings – I’ve made an icecream-type one before now and several times we’ve enjoyed Delia’s Light Christmas Pudding with Hot Punch Sauce.  For many years I didn’t think I liked Christmas pudding so I never considered it, until one year we were out for a meal in early December and were given it as dessert as part of the set menu.  It was delicious!  For one thing it was soft and moist (most of the ones I’d tried prior to that had been microwaved which sometimes makes them go hard if you don’t take care) and the flavour was mellow and spicy rather than the sharp, over-rich taste I was expecting.  I made up my mind that we would have a Proper Pudding that Christmas and went home to investigate my Delia’s Christmas book.  Unfortunately I was deterred by the inclusion of both stout, which I knew very little about other than vague memory that Ena, Minnie and Martha used to drink it in Coronation Street, and barley wine, which I’d never heard of.  There was some mention of sourcing some from your local pub but I guess that only works if you live in a lovely country village like Delia does – I can imagine the conversation if I went into one of the pubs round here begging barley wine.  So I bought a pudding that year, and in most of the years that followed, unless we were away.  Occasionally I’d get out my recipe and have a look, but it never went beyond discovering that you can buy both drinks from Tesco, but only in large quantities, and I only wanted 75ml of each.

This year, for some reason, a much bigger deal than usual is being made of “Stir-up Sunday” which falls this weekend.  The traditional collect for the last Sunday before Advent begins “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people…” and this, apparently used to remind the women in the congregation that it was about time they stir up their pudding mix.  I’ve seen at least two articles in the media about it in the last couple of days and it made me think on that I’ve still never made that pudding.  So once again I was spurred into action and looked up some other recipes online and in my other, newer, Christmas book, Nigella Christmas (haven’t made much out of it yet but the Christmas Morning Muffins are to die for).  I discovered that, whilst I didn’t entirely like the sound of any of the ones I found, stout and barley wine don’t seem to be compulsory ingredients and an assortment of other forms of alcohol can be used instead, usually a type of ale (which is what barley wine turns out to be – not wine at all), and I decided that if that was the only deterrent I could make it easily using the ale we have in the house.  Not that we always have ale in the house, but we do at the moment because it was on 3 for 2 when I bought some for a stew.  And even if we didn’t, it’s less of a risk than buying something we’ve never tried because I know it will be consumed at some point.  (Not by me though – I can’t stand it.  Ugh).

And so I’ve weighed out my ingredients and found I have everything I need except a Bramley which I’ll get tomorrow.  My bread is out going stale overnight to use for breadcrumbs tomorrow and then everything will be put in together and left to steep overnight.  And on Stir-up Sunday we’re having guests for lunch, so everyone will be able to have a traditional stir of the pudding before I put it in the basin!

PS – sorry for a boring, pictureless post this time – there’s only so many pictures of bowls covered in tea-towels one can litter around the place.  But yes, I am using a Christmas one again!  And I’ll post a picture of the part-finished pudding if all goes to plan!

21st November: PPS – Just in case anyone finds this useful, I didn’t use ale in the end.  I’m sure I could have and it would have been fine, but when I looked at the recipe on Delia’s website, as opposed to the one in my copy of Delia Smith’s Christmas, I discovered suggestions for making the pudding gluten-free by using gluten-free breadcrumbs, flour, etc, and substituting the stated alcohol for the same amount of sherry.  I didn’t use gluten-free ingredients but as it was my first time making it I decided to use sherry so as to stick as closely as possible to the recipe.

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