Harry Potter Series · Rowling

Hogwarts’ Flaming Christmas Pudding

Author: Rowling, J.K.
Book: Harry Potter series
Difficulty rating: Little Women
Deliciousness rating: Exceeds Expectations

Pudding 1
All we want for Christmas is JUSTICE.
Flaming Christmas puddings followed the turkey. Percy nearly broke his teeth on a silver Sickle embedded in his slice. (Book 1: UK 150, US 203)
Neither Jenne nor I could wrap our brains around the idea of a traditional British Christmas pudding. From what we understood, this was a dessert that (1) sounded a whole lot like fruit cake, which is almost always gross, but which (2) had a mysterious meat product (suet) in it, and (3) was stored away for a year at room temp before eating. Whaaaaa…? How could the end product possibly be edible?
I don’t think we’d have bothered if we hadn’t been talking to our Official British Friend (OBF), Cam, about English cuisine in general, and she insisted that Christmas pudding is one of the most delectable dishes one can try. Okay, fine, we at 36 Eggs can’t hear a declaration such as this without testing it for ourselves!

Fortunately for us, Cam was v. excited at the idea of making a Christmas pudding and offered her expertise and assistance in the process, not to mention her gorgeous kitchen to cook in. Her partner Hildie cooked us a fantabulous feast of pork medallions in the hours the pudding was steaming, no less.

Pudding 2
Just look at this badass. *Also, the horseshoe hanging over the door was brought from Poland by Hildie’s grandmother when she escaped during WWII.

HOGWARTS’ FLAMING CHRISTMAS PUDDING

Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Ultimate Christmas Pudding recipe
*Sidenote: Cam went to secondary school with Nigella Lawson, who was two years her senior and a faraway, famous sort of figure. Even then, Cam says, Nigella was incredibly glamorous and clearly destined for great things.

Ingredients:

  • Silver coins, cleaned thoroughly in Coke (a Sickle in the HP books, which is about 59 cents in U.S. money; traditionally a sixpence in Muggle England)

    Pudding 3
    I cleaned these with alcohol, dish detergent, and then Coke. Not taking any chances! We used a fifty-cent piece for the larger pudding , since it was the closest to 59 cents. A dime for the smaller pudding.
  • 150g currants
  • 150g sultanas (We didn’t have sultanas, so we used regular raisins. Cam points out that American golden raisins aren’t a good substitute because they’re too tangy, whereas sultanas are sweet.)
  • 150g roughly chopped prunes
  • 175ml Harveys Bristol Cream sherry
  • 100g plain flour
  • 125g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 150g suet (we bought 8 oz at the butcher shop and used 6 oz)

    Pudding 4
    So what the hell is suet? Suet is raw beef fat — usually the hard fat around the kidneys. Cam’s mother insisted that the only way to make an authentic pud is with beef suet. She used to make her own suet from beef fat that the butcher gave her. “Just tear it off the membranes and run it through the mincer,” she said. We weren’t sure how readily available suet was in San Diego, but we called Iowa Meat Farms, and they stocked suet. They were SOLD OUT, in fact, and I had to call in an order! Now we are very curious what other San Diegans are using so much suet for… Anyway, Cam and I set to work, tearing the hard chunks of fat off the membrane. Avert your eyes, vegetarian friends! It was pretty grisly, but also kind of fun.
Pudding 6
We are zesting that lemon!
Pudding 5
Once we got all the chunks off the membrane, we were to mince it. Unfortunately, we had no mincer, but the pulse setting on the food processor worked fine! Cam had been told that they should look like “little white worms or maggots.” How appetizing, no? As you can see, that’s done…
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 150g dark brown muscovado sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tiny apples from Cam’s garden (peeled and grated)
    Pudding 7
  • One 2-pint pudding basin and one 1-pint pudding basin (we used Jenne’s plastic mixing bowls) with lids
  • Butter to grease everything
  • Steaming pots
  • Plastic wrap
  • Twine


Directions:

1. Put the currants, sultanas, and prunes into a bowl with the sherry. Swill the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and leave overnight, up to a week. (Holy hell, guys, this stuff is incredible once the booze is all soaked in. It was hard not to grab a spoon and just sail in.)Pudding 82. Put a large pan of water on to boil. Butter your pudding basin, including the lid.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the remaining pudding ingredients however you like.
Don’t forget to double-check — we first forgot the spices, and then we had everything all wrapped up and steaming before we realized we’d forgotten the eggs!
Pudding 9

4. Add the boozed-up fruit, making sure to get every last drop of sherry with a rubber spatula. Mix thoroughly. According to Cam, it’s tradition for every family member to take a turn mixing and make a wish, so we tried it.

5. Scrape and press the mixture into the mixing bowl. Add the coins, if using.
Squish it down, cover with greased plastic wrap, and put on the lid. Make sure the container is watertight.Pudding 10

6. Cam tied twine around the rim to make these handles. Not only did they look adorable — they were crucial for lifting out the puddings from the pots later.

Pudding 11
7. Put the basin in the pan of boiling water (to come up halfway up the basin) or in the top of a lidded steamer.

8. Steam for FOUR HOURS. Check now and then to make sure the water hasn’t all boiled off.

Pudding 12

9. Take it out carefully. When it’s cooled enough, put the pudding in the basin in the fridge until Christmas. (It’s much warmer in San Diego than in England, so leaving it out in our room didn’t seem like the best plan.)

Pudding 13
Cam took the small pudding and I took the large one to store till party time.

Did it measure up?
We’ll find out! The plan is to wait till December, steam it for an ADDITIONAL FOUR HOURS, top it with a sprig of holly, flambé it, and then eat it with brandy butter, along with a number of other HP Christmas dishes, of course.

The batter looked nothing like I expected — it’s a lot chunkier, and I was picturing it to be soft and smooth, like for a sweet tamal (the only other steamed dessert I can think of that has meat fat in it).

Jenne and I had all kinds of doubts about a cake-like dessert not rotting after several months, but we were reassured by articles that talk about how Christmas puddings and fruit cakes can last forever.


Update:

The pudding was steamed, lit afire, and eaten at our Very Harry Christmas Dinner.

Pudding 14

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. London: Bloomsbury, 1997.

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1997.

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