Making a round(ish) Christmas pudding inspired by Fanny Cradock

Making a round(ish) Christmas pudding inspired by Fanny Cradock

This year I made my Christmas pudding mid-November and I did it in a way that not only creates a more rounded pudding but is also energy efficient. Here's how I did it: 

I was inspired to make my Christmas pudding like Fanny used to- in a sieve. This creates a round Christmas pudding like the ones you see on every single Christmas illustration and cartoon. Apparently, the pudding was once round as in the 19th century it was boiled in pudding cloth in the kind of huge boiler you'd also use to do your laundry. Times have since changed and the Christmas pudding is usually cooked in a pudding basin, giving it that dome shape you see when you buy one or make one yourself. 

Here's how Fanny (who is an absolute culinary legend if you didn't know it already) did it: 

For a bit of fun this year I decided to make a Christmas pudding using a similar method to Fanny's and I can tell you why I loved doing it: 

1. Making the pudding has to be done in advance (but that can be as soon as the week before) and if you're a mostly broke parent of young children like me, Christmas won't be all that exciting when it comes to presents for yourself. This however, gave me something absolutely gorgeous to look forward to. It keeps for up to 6 months too so if you don't get to eat it on the big day, there's still plenty of time!

2. It was fun to get the children involved. Everybody makes a wish as part of the stirring process. You could even put a pound in it for luck but don't forget about that! No one wants to spend Christmas day in A&E. 

3. I love a personal challenge and having to work out how I was going to steam this pudding without pissing the smart meter off was fun. Rather than a "higher than expected" gas bill, this process went under the electricity radar even with the seasonally weak solar panels... in November. 

My step by step energy efficient method 

1. Use whatever Christmas pudding recipe you want. I wanted to try a traditional one with suet so I used Delia Smith's recipe and swapped barley wine and stout for lemon juice and brandy. All the recipes were similar so it doesn't matter which one you choose, just go for what you prefer! I love the bit in Delia's method where everyone is supposed to give it a stir and make a wish. I did as I was told. 

2. You'll need a slow cooker that serves at least 4 people (sorry Americans, I don't understand what "quart" means so I'm going with serving sizes). I have a small, standard one that you can get a meal for 4-6 in. You'll also need plenty of tin foil, greaseproof paper, something to grease the paper with (like butter), a sieve (the deeper and narrower it is, the more round your pud will be), boiling water from the kettle and a large, round colander.

a colander wrapped in tin foil

3. Turn the slow cooker on high with the lid on to get it warming up. Line your sieve with the baking parchment and foil. Try and flatten it as much as you can to help it have a smooth impression on the pud. You need enough foil to wrap around the puddiing. I popped my sieve on top of a suitable sized bowl for this to balance it. Don't forget the greaseproof paper!

christmas pudding mixture being laid into the foil and baking parchment

4. Pop your pudding mixture into the lined sieve. It will feel weird because you're essentially going to mould it with the foil rather than fill a basin. I used all the mixture. Don't hold back!

wrapped christmas pudding in a sieve
5. Now, carefully pick up the paper and foil from around it and fold it over. You want to put a bit of pressure on the sides of the pud to get it into that ball shape. Fold and make sure no pudding is going to spill out. One end of the pudding will not be as smooth and round as the other but you'll get to rectify that when you turn it around midway through the cooking.
wrapped christmas pudding hovering over a sieve on a slow cooker
6. Boil the kettle and fill the slow cooker to the halfway point with the boiling water. Remove the slow cooker lid. Rest your sieve over the slow cooker. If you're worried about steam wetting your worktop, you could put your slow cooker on a board or a towel.
my slow cooker is switched on and I have a colander covered in tin foil to catch the steam
7. Wrap tin foil around your colander to cover all of the holes. This will trap the steam and help cook the pudding more efficiently. Lay it on top of the slow cooker. My colander was round whereas the cooker was an oval shape, so there was a tiny bit of overhang but it's OK for steam to escape. You could also use a large pan. I didn't have one big enough for the job and the colander rested the best.
8. Cook on high for 8-12 hours, turning the pudding halfway through. I used oven gloves to do this because it gets hot! You can also check the water at the halfway point and add more as needed.
9. Take your pudding out and rest the sieve on a bowl again. Leave it to cool completely. Open it up in the morning, admire it and wrap it up again in new paper and foil. It then needs to be stored in a cool dry place until you want to heat it up and eat it. Enjoy!
my round Christmas pudding

Fancy trying to make a round Christmas pudding this year? Have you made one before? Let me know in the comments!

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