Christmas pudding gratin
Part of the immense pleasure of festive celebratory meals is eating the left overs. Rather than something to get through, personally I regard them as good as the main event. A turkey sandwich with some shreds of lettuce, a wedge of stuffing and luscious layer of cranberry sauce; turkey and ham folded into a creamy white sauce and baked in a pie; Stilton with piquant cranberry on rye crackers; Christmas cake with Cheddar (honestly it works); Bubble and Squeak made with roast veg and sprouts topped with a poached egg – and pickles with everything.
The pinnacle of the after-feast for me is this gratin that actually surpasses the original incarnation. Much love, care, attention (and booze) is lavished on my Christmas pudding for a couple of months prior to the 25th. I revel in the spectacle of the blue flames as I light the brandy, but while digging a spoon into the moist, crumbly pudding with brandy butter and rum cream I’m already eyeing up the leftovers.
The genius of this gratin combines the fruity pud with a light, cloak of creamy, bourbon-laced custard. Simple to make, exquisite to eat.
The recipe is from Annie Bell and adapted only in the fact that I used Woodford Reserve Bourbon instead of rum or whisky with great success. In My Kitchen is one of my most well-thumbed recipe books especially at Christmas. I made three puddings this year – large, medium and small – just in case. Nigella‘s pudding recipe has been my favourite for the last few years (without the Pedro Ximenez as no-one stocks it here – importers please take note) although tempted to make this one next year as it uses ale and starts steeping in August.
Looking back during this left-over part of the year, the high points for me have been the experiences and friendships I’ve made through My Custard Pie. Huge thanks to everyone who kept coming back, reading and commenting in 2011; it’s been a real pleasure getting to know you. I’m so excited about the potential that 2012 will bring, new friends, old friends, new experiences and familiar ones. I hope you’ll join me for the journey – wishing you all a spectacular New Year.
Christmas Pudding Gratin – printable version here
900 g Christmas pudding, cut into slices about 1 cm thick
350 ml full-cream milk
300 g crème fraîche
100 g vanilla caster sugar
45 ml bourbon (or dark rum or whisky)*
3 medium eggs
icing sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C fan oven) gas mark 4.
Cut the slices of pudding in half and lay them in overlapping rows in a 30cm x 20cm gratin dish, or equivalent, which will hold them snugly.
Whisk the milk, crème fraîche, sugar, bourbon and eggs in a jug until well combined. You can make the pudding in advance up to this point. Just before you are going to bake the gratin, pour the egg and milk mixture into the dish, making sure you coat the whole of the surface of the pudding. There should be small crags peeking out, but not too much otherwise it will burn. *If you avoid alcohol, use a generous teaspoon of vanilla extract instead of the bourbon (and a non-alcoholic Christmas pud).
Place the pudding in the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes until the custard has set and the surface is lightly golden in colour. Leave it to cool for 15 minutes if you can. Dust with the icing sugar before serving.
You could also use Christmas cake for this recipe – remove the icing and marzipan first. The gratin is best eaten light and freshly risen from the oven but also reheats quite well – the perfect leftover, leftovers!
What are your favourite left-over combinations or reincarnations?