Cherry and pecan Christmas pudding for candied peel haters

For someone who loves Christmas as much as I do, I have an irrational fear and loathing of candied peel. For most candied peel is synonymous with Christmas; an essential festive ingredient. But not for me. I like my peel either safely keeping my citrus fruit from ruin, or in the bin. Actually, in a martini is also acceptable. 

So, I endeavour to produce festive baked goods without the inclusion of the dreaded peel. I love a cherry, so often substitute with my little red nosed friends, which seem festive themselves what with resembling Rudolf's nose. I'm also partial to ginger and so often add a bit of this too. Not too much mind or the taste is rather medicinal. 

I know it's a little late for making Christmas pud what with stir up Sunday being last weekend, but I have a newborn who is a milk guzzling brute so everything is running a little late at Camp Bell these days. 

The secret ingredient for this pudding is tea. My son loves Christmas pud, however I can't bring myself to feed a toddler booze soaked fruit. So Lady Grey tea is the tea of choice to plump up the fruit and nuts. The bonus being it adds a slight orangey twist without the use of peel. 


50g sultanas

- 400g glacé cherries

- 300g pecan nuts
- 70g fresh white breadcrumbs made from rubbing together two small brioche rolls
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 100g molasses sugar
- 200 ml Lady Grey tea, still warm
- 100ml milk
- Butter, for greasing
- 100g self-raising flour
- 1 large Bramley apple, grated (you can substitute for grated carrot if you don't have an   apple knocking about)
- 250g vegetable suet
- 4 eggs

    Put sultanas, nuts, cherries and mixed spice into a large bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, spice, sugar, tea and milk. Mix with a wooden spoon, cover with cling film and leave overnight in a cool place. The fridge is fine if you have room. You basically need to keep it cold because of the milk. 

    The next day, mix everything else into the fruit and nut gloop. Butter either 2 x 1-litre pudding basins or 10 small pudding basins. I tend to make one large pudding and a few little ones as a compromise. John Lewis have some great small metal basins that are perfect. Fill each basin three quarters full then cover in the traditional way. (A double layer of buttered on the basin side down, pleated in the middle, greaseproof paper then tied with string just under the rim. There is no way I can do this without the help of either my teeth or Mr Bell. Up to you which to choose. If you need instructions check out youtube)

    To cook just pop an upturned saucer into a large saucepan and then sit the big pudding on top. Pour just boiled water into the saucepan until it comes to halfway up the basin. Cover the pan with a lid and bring back to the boil. Then simmer for 5 hours, checking periodically that the poor pud hasn't boiled dry. If it's in danger of this add more boiled water.

    To cook the little puddings, preheat the oven to Gas 4. Put the puds into a roasting tin and add boiling water until it comes to half way up the sides of the pudding basins. Cover with foil and bake for 2 hours altogether. 

    Once cooked remove from the pan/oven and let cool. I then tend to pop in the fridge (at back/bottom where they can be forgotten about) until Xmas but another cool, dark place is fine. You can also freeze them too! Just defrost in fridge over 48 hours before reheating. Oh and to reheat you need about 2 hours steaming for the big ones and about 1 hour for the small ones in pan or oven depending on which size you went for. Same heat as before. 

    Serve with brandy butter or cream or custard or if you're 2, ice cream. 

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