I am fascinated by the lore surrounding seasonal bakes and none is more steeped in tradition than Christmas pudding. Said to have been introduced to the Victorians by Prince Albert, the Christmas pudding is lovingly mixed by families on Stir Up Sunday – the last Sunday before Advent.
Everyone gets to take a turn stirring the ingredients together – from East to West to honour the three Wise Men – while making a special wish for the year ahead. A silver six pence is added to the pudding mixture to bring good luck before steaming it. The pudding is then stored and steamed again on Christmas day ready to serve with a sprig of holly as a festive crown.
It is such wonderful tradition to pass down to the next generation – and made even more special by the addition of a Royal Mint Silver six pence. The Royal Mint is rooted in history – it has been minting coins for over 1,000 years. By late thirteen century the organisation was based at The Tower of London where it remained for 500 years before moving to Tower Hill in 1812.
Currently based in South Wales, the Royal Mint has been providing millions of coins to the domestic market each year. But it also produces billions of coinage and blanks around the world and currently meeting approximately 15% of global demand, making it the world’s leading export mint.
The Royal Mint have commissioned their own Christmas pudding recipe, specially created by Rachel Walker, Food Editor at the Sunday Times. Can’t wait to serve our puddings on Christmas day and of course find out who will be lucky enough to find the silver six pence!
Traditional Christmas Pudding
- 170 g | 6oz sultanas
- 140 g | 5oz currants
- 140 g | 5oz raisins
- 200 ml | 7fl oz water
- 2 level tbsp plain all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground mace
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 55 g | 2oz breadcrumbs
- 85 g | 3oz shredded vegetarian suet or softened unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp grated dark chocolate
- one cooking apple peeled and grated
- 85 g | 3oz soft dark brown sugar
- 2 tbsp chopped mixed peel
- 55 g | 2oz blanched almonds roughly chopped
- zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
- 1 tbsp black treacle
- 3 tbsp brandy
- 1 egg beaten
- a little butter for greasing the pudding bowl
- Put the dried fruit and water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, and simmer for three minutes. Leave to soak, uncovered, overnight.
- Sift the flour and spices into a large mixing bowl.
- Add the breadcrumbs, suet or butter, grated chocolate, apple, brown sugar, mixed peel, almonds, lemon and orange zest.
- Mix well with your hands to ensure the mixture is fully blended together.
- Stir in the soaked fruit, treacle, brandy and beaten egg. Stir in the Royal Mint Sixpence. It’s traditional for everyone to give the pudding a turn and make a wish or two.
- Grease the pudding bowl, and pack the Christmas pudding mixture into it.
- Cut one circle of greaseproof paper, a few inches bigger than the rim of the bowl. Fold a pleat into the centre and use a large elastic band to secure it over the pudding bowl.
- Cover the top with a piece of tin foil then tie it tightly with string. Make a loop of string across the top, to fashion a handle, so the pudding can be easily lifted out of the pan.
- If you are using a steaming pot, pour some water into the bottom of the stock pot – about one eighth full – so that the steamer basket sits in the bottom, just above the water level. Bring the water to the boil, and place the Christmas pudding in the basket.
- If you don’t have a steamer basket, use a jam jar lid so that the pudding basin is kept away from direct contact with the base of the pot. Fill the pot with boiling water to come up halway up the side of the pudding basin.
- Cover and steam at a gentle simmer for four hours. Keep an eye on pot and top up with boiling water if needed.
- Lift the pudding out of the pot after four hours, keeping the greaseproof paper on – that way you can store the Christmas pudding for up to two months.
- On Christmas Day, steam the pudding again for another two hours, and serve – perhaps with a sprig of holly on top.
- If you want to light the pudding, heat 80ml (1/3 cup) brandy in a small saucepan and light it. Carefully pour the lighted brandy over the pudding (best serve it in a deep plate or stand so that excess brandy can pool at the bottom and not drip).
Be careful when serving the pudding, especially to children, and warn people about the lucky coin within! Might be best to wrap it in foil so that it is more visible.