Sunday, 7 November 2010

Cranberry and Apricot Christmas Puddings

I thought I'd have a go at an alternative Christmas pudding. Not everyone likes the rich, fruity cakes and puds that are traditional at Christmas. There are plenty of different cakes to be found, but a pudding is a trickier proposition; obviously you could choose from any number of desserts, but I do feel that Christmas lunch demands a 'proper' pudding, preferably hot and not just something as an afterthought, to continue the sense of occasion. So, if you have someone in your family, as I have, who won’t touch the usual Christmas Pudding, this could be the very thing.

I couldn’t find a recipe that was exactly what I wanted so I decided to adapt my usual sponge pudding recipe. I thought I’d have a couple of dry runs to get the flavour and texture right and I’m so glad I did…..the first attempt was truly awful! I have no idea what I did wrong but instead of being light, fluffy and fruity they were heavy, doughy and horrible and they went straight into the compost bin!

The second try was (thankfully!) much more successful; I shall definitely be using this one at Christmas. I’ve substituted the normal dried fruit for cranberries and chopped apricots and I've also added a soup├žon of nutmeg and some orange zest to give that familiar fragrant Christmassy flavour.

These puds look so cute with their little jewels of cranberry and apricot studding the surface; they taste pretty good, too.

Little Cranberry and Apricot Sponge Puds

175g softened butter
140g light muscovado sugar
1 orange, zest only
2 beaten eggs
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
175g self-raising flour
50g dried cranberries
50g chopped dried apricots

You’ll also need 6 individual metal pudding basins, well-buttered and with a disc of baking parchment in the base.

Place the first six ingredients into a large bowl and mix together – don’t overmix, you want to just combine them until no trace of flour can be seen. Stir in the dried fruit then divide the mixture between the greased tins; cover the tins tightly with a square of baking parchment and a double layer of foil folded well down over the rim.

Place in a steamer and steam the puds for 45-55 minutes. When cooked, run a knife round the edge, turn out and serve with pouring cream or custard.

If you like, cook these on Christmas Eve, turn them out of their tins, allow to cool and put them in an airtight container. Microwave each pudding for about 30 seconds before serving.

Serves 6

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