1st December 2020
Tips for a stress-free Christmas
We know how easy it is to get overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the holidays. So many preparations and events, it can sometimes seem too much. But you don’t need to feel stressed over Christmas dinner. Our head chef, has shared his top tips for a more relaxed prep experience and a perfect pudding recipe for you to try this year. First, the tips:
- Whatever happens, stay positive. Your family and friends are there to spend time together. So, if the pudding is a little wonky, that’s ok.
- If you’re feeling the stress bubble up, just take a breath. Centre yourself and then push on.
- Make sure to get good rest the night before and don’t overexert yourself on the day. You can delegate!
- Prep all of your ingredients before you start cooking anything. That way, if you’re missing something, you can adapt your menu or send someone to the shops.
Now for the Christmas pudding that you can prepare long before the day:
50g blanched almonds
2 large Bramley cooking apples
200g box candied peel (in large pieces) or all citron if you can find it
1 whole nutmeg
140g plain flour
100g soft fresh white breadcrumbs
100g light muscovado sugar, crumbled if it looks lumpy
3 large eggs
2 tbsp brandy or cognac, plus extra to light the pudding
250g packet butter, taken straight from the fridge
Get everything for the pudding prepared. Chop the almonds coarsely. Peel, core and chop the cooking apples. Sharpen your knife and chop the candied peel. (You can chop the almonds and apples in a food processor, but the peel must be done by hand.) Grate three quarters of the nutmeg (sounds a lot but it's correct).
Mix the almonds, apples, candied peel, nutmeg, raisins, flour, breadcrumbs, light muscovado sugar, eggs and 2 tbsp brandy or cognac in a large bowl.
Holding the butter in its wrapper, grate a quarter of it into the bowl, then stir everything together. Repeat until all the butter is grated, then stir for 3-4 mins – the mixture is ready when it subsides slightly after each stir.
Generously butter two 1.2 litre bowls and put a circle of baking parchment in the bottom of each. Pack in the pudding mixture. Cover with a double layer of baking parchment, pleating it to allow for expansion, then tie with string (keep the paper in place with a rubber band while tying). Trim off any excess paper.
Now stand each bowl on a large sheet of foil and bring the edges up over the top, then put another sheet of foil over the top and bring it down underneath to make a double package (this makes the puddings watertight). Tie with more string, and make a handle for easy lifting in and out of the pan.
Boil or oven steam the puddings for 8 hrs, topping up with water as necessary. Remove from the pans and leave to cool overnight. When cold, discard the messy wrappings and re-wrap in new baking parchment, foil and string. Store in a cool, dry place until Christmas.