This is a post of a cool idea that I put to test but lacking in pretty photos. No matter, it is too cool to just keep to myself. Any British or anglophile baker reading this? Any procrastinators who missed Stir-Up Sunday and still haven’t made your Christmas pudding yet? My answer was an emphatic yes to all of the above as of last night but not anymore!
As I mentioned yesterday, I am smitten by Dan Lepard’s new cookbook Short & Sweet. The book has a number of British Christmas pudding recipes including plum pudding and figgy pudding. They all call for steaming the pudding in a traditional 2 pint pudding basin with a lid that you make out of parchment paper, foil, and string. The whole contraption is steamed in a water bath for hours until it is cooked through. Every recipe ends with the dire warning that you should not, under any circumstances, peek inside the lid after the pudding is steamed. During the month-long aging period, you want to minimize the risk of introducing mould to your pudding as it sits quietly in the dark cupboard. Water bath? A tight seal? Storage at room temperature? Sounds like canning to this home canning aficionado!
I knew immediately the vessel I want to make my Christmas pudding. The 1/4L mold jar from Weck is the perfect size and shape. Best of all, they are now available at Crate & Barrel! I never thought the day would come when I can walk into a store at the mall and buy a few Weck canning jars.
I buttered and sugared the inside of each jar just as I would for a large pudding basin. I lined the bottom of each jar with a small circle of parchment paper so the pudding can be released easily comes Christmas Day. The recipe for Lepard’s figgy pudding does not contain any leavener. It is simply fruit, nuts, and breadcrumb bind together with egg yolk, ruby port, and butter. I tightly packed the mixture into my prepared jars and topped with another circle of parchment paper. I know it’s hard to resist but try to leave a bit of room at the top to account of expansion during steaming. Wipe the lip of the jar clean and clip on the rubber gasket and glass lid. Steam away in the simmering hot water!
The advantage of using a glass container is that I can see the whole pudding top to bottom to check for doneness. The small size also ensures the interior would set not too long after the outside looks done. Just to be on the safe side, I steamed mine for 90 minutes as the book recommended for a 2 pint pudding. Good thing you can’t really overcook a steamed pudding!
When I removed the pudding from the water bath, the tab of the rubber ring was not yet pointing down (sign of successful seal). However, once the pudding cooled to room temperature, the tab pointed down. I unclipped the lid and gingerly lifted the jar by the lid. Sealed!!
All that is left to do is to put away my figgy pudding until Christmas Day when I’ll steam it once more to serve the pudding warm (with billowy whipped cream). Even if the airtight seal fails between now and end of December, I am not terribly worry. My pudding would not be any worse off than his traditional foil and string brothers. Mind you, this experiment is not meant as means to keep the pudding for long term storage. It is simply an alternative to what the traditional method recommends. I have three more unused Weck jars. I think plum pudding is calling my name!
If you need more pudding inspiration, check out Lepard’s Sweet Sherry Plum Pudding over at The Guardian!