Stir it up – Mel does pudding

I managed to double-book myself for Stir Up Sunday, so I outsourced my Christmas baking and the write-up to my lovely flatmate Mel.  Thanks to Waitrose for the ingredients, and thank you so much Mel for jumping into the blogging hotseat! You did a great job.

Every year since I can remember, friends or family have always given a Christmas pudding to my family. Every year except one, where my Mother and I set about making one for each of my aunts. Today, with huge thanks to Sarah and a wonderful set of ingredients, I got the chance to partake in all the stirring, wishing and steaming that comes with making a Christmas pudding again. 

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There is something incredibly calming about spending most of a Sunday making a Christmas pudding. I don’t remember it being so calming when I was about 7 and my mother and I had about 5 of them on the go (sisters, sister in law)- a lot of wishing happened that day, mainly involving my not having to do all the washing up.

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I was never much involved in the soaking of the fruits part of the pudding making all those years ago, but today it quickly became my favourite part. The combined smells of orange zest and brandy soaked fruit are better than anything I can think of, to get you in the spirit of the season.

When it got to the point of stirring, a very good friend of mine had dropped in for tea and cake (making pudding is thirsty work). This meant I could share some wishes, and a little of the infectious orange zesty seasonal cheer (read: brandy).

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After the final mixing, my friend and I, managed to get the pudding steaming, and didn’t let the lack of kitchen string keep us down – you may notice some rather fetching Waitrose green ribbon featuring in some of these pictures, keeping everything together.

All in all, after happily keeping an eye on the pudding steaming for the next 6 hours (between bouts of laundry and catching up with family), I think everything worked out well. I have set the finished product aside tonight to cool, and perhaps I might find some willing volunteers to try it out.

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Christmas baking for busy people

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(yes, the cake is sitting on a radiator – at this time of year, it’s the only place I could find enough light!)

Usually I make my Christmas cake in October.  I’ve been very busy this year so unfortunately I haven’t gotten around to it yet.  Luckily Waitrose came to the rescue with one of their Christmas cake kits, available for £10.

The kit is great for busy people like me. Yesterday I had an after work meeting, but managed to put the ingredients together (the fruit is pre-soaked in brandy), get the cake in the oven, do the other things on my list and take the cake out by bedtime.  This morning I managed to get up and ice it in time to make my 8am Pilates class.

I took it to work to gauge my team’s opinions. It rated an average of 4 out of 5. Opinions differed as to whether it had too many cherries, not enough cherries, too much marzipan, or not enough! I find people have very set ideas on how a Christmas cake should be but this cake was a fairly good compromise for everyone.  They all liked how it was presented – I followed the instructions for decorating it, and putting the little silver balls on top was the fussiest part of the whole process!

If you’re like me and haven’t started your Christmas baking yet I can recommend this kit.  I imagine it would be even better with a few weeks to age and maybe fed with a bit more brandy every now and then.