Kitchen Wit & Wisdom: Thanks, Mom, for the Christmas tradition

Cathi Litzenberger fondly remembers the Christmas pudding her mom used to make, as well as the tasty sauce that accompanied it

Christmas puddings! Either you love them or hate them but they’re not likely to disappear, as they are a tradition for countless people worldwide at Christmas time.

The first recipe I’m sharing today was brought over from England in the 1930s and is a fine example of a traditional Christmas pudding. The second is one of my favourite carrot varieties, a traditional recipe from my mom’s collection. As kids we never really had a taste for this rich fruity pudding, but we absolutely loved the sauce Mom made to pour over it; it was something seldom served during the rest of the year. So in order to have this sauce we had to have at least a rounded tablespoon of the pudding with it. Eventually all eight of us came to really enjoy it, and today I appreciate my mom’s efforts in that regard. The tradition has been passed to one of my sisters who gifts us all with a pudding for Christmas each year.

English Christmas Pudding

3 cups fresh bread crumbs

2 cups  shredded suet (or 2/3 cup butter, softened)

1-1/3 cups  dark raisins

1-1/3 cups  light raisins

1-1/3 cups  currants

1 cup  mixed candied peel

1 cup  granulated sugar

1 cup  milk

1/2 cup chopped almonds

3 eggs, beaten

1 tbsp.  grated lemon rind

1/3 cup  lemon juice

1/3 cup  dark rum

1 tsp.  ground allspice

1/2 tsp.  ground cloves

1/2 tsp.  cinnamon

1/2 tsp.  nutmeg

1/2 cup  all-purpose flour

In large bowl, combine bread crumbs, suet or butter, raisins, currants, candied peel, sugar, milk, almonds, eggs, lemon rind and juice, 1/4 cup of the rum, allspice, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 24 hours.

Stir in flour and remaining rum; scrape into 2 greased 6-cup (1.5 L) pudding moulds or bowls, smoothing tops. Place circle of waxed paper directly on surface of each. Cover with lids. (Or make 1-inch/2.5 cm pleat across middle of large piece of foil and fit over top, pressing down side. Trim edge, leaving 3-inch/8 cm overhang; press down side. Tie string securely around mould about 1 inch/2.5 cm from rim; fold foil overhang up over string.)

Place moulds on rack in deep pot; pour enough boiling water into pot to come halfway up side of moulds. Cover and bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer, adding boiling water as necessary to maintain level, until skewer inserted in centre comes out clean, about 5 hours. Remove moulds from pot and let cool slightly.

(Make-ahead: Let cool. Unmould, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Or store in cool, dry place for up to 3 months.

Christmas Carrot Pudding

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter*

1 egg

1 cup shredded raw carrot

1 cup grated raw potato

1 cup raisins

1 cup dates

1 cup currants

1/2 cup glazed cherries or fruit, chopped

1/2 cup chopped almonds, optional

1 cup flour

1 pinch salt

1/2 tsp. each cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg

1 tsp. baking soda

Sift flour and spices.

* Traditionally suet would have been used instead of butter

Cream sugar and butter; add egg, mix well. Add carrot and 1/2 the potato, stir together.

Sift flour, salt and spices together and add with the fruit; mix together. Dissolve soda in remaining potato and add this last. Pour into mold(s) and steam for three hours. Unmold, wrap in plastic and refrigerate.

Serve with a brown sugar sauce or custard.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every Wednesday and one Sunday per month.