Slow cooker Christmas: Christmas pudding
Even if you’ve already made your Christmas pud, don’t stop reading. Cook or reheat it on Christmas day without the need to constantly check the boiling water level, no rattling pan taking up a ring space and without your kitchen turning into a steam room.
My slow cooker is the best purchase I’ve made in years; why on earth did it take me so long to get one (a head-scratching rhetorical question for sure). With Christmas coming up I’ve found so many ways it’ll make festive cooking a lot easier. It’ll have a permanent place on my counter well into the New Year.
My pudding received its first steaming on the day after Stir Up Sunday this year but, regular readers may not faint at this news, the fruit had been soaking in alcohol for two weeks beforehand. I used Nigella’s recipe as I love dousing it in sweet, rich, coffee-like Pedro Ximénes sherry (PX). I couldn’t get hold of a cooking apple so used a carrot instead and I buy bags of mixed vine fruit from Waitrose to minimise odd leftovers, plus I added some mixed spice.
I usually grease traditional pudding basins and do all the greaseproof paper and string malarkey, but I was in such a rush this year that I turned to the infinitely simpler but less photogenic plastic ones with snap on lids (from Lakeland). Nigella’s mixture filled 1 x 2 pint (1.2 litre) basin and 1 x 1 pint (600 ml) basin (why they still use Imperial as we’ve been going metric in the UK since the early 1970’s I can’t fathom). The size was important as a 1.7 litre one (OK, OK, 3 pint) won’t fit in my slow cooker.
Slow cooker Christmas pudding
- Turn your slow cooker onto high.
- Stir up all the ingredients from your favourite Christmas pudding recipe.
- Grease 1 x 2 pint (1.2 litre) basin and 1 x 1 pint (600 ml) basin with butter and snap on the lid (if plastic). If using conventional pudding basins, grease the insides with butter and line the base with a circle of greaseproof paper. Fill with the mixture and top with another circle of greaseproof. Cut out two generous circles of greaseproof paper per basin, pleat in the middle and secure tightly with kitchen string tied under the lip of the pudding basin, looping the ends over the top to make a handle.
- Place the basin into the slow cooker and fill the slow cooker with water so the level is three- quarters of the way up the side of the pudding.
- Replace the lid of the slow cooker and cook on high as follows: 600ml (1 pint) for 8 hours; 1.2 litre (2 pint) for 10 hours; 1.7 litre (3 pint) for 12 hours
- Leave to cool and store in a cool, dark place.
To reheat on the day: Preheat the slow cooker for 20 minutes, put the pudding in and pour enough water to come to three-quarters of the way up the sides of the pudding basin. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours (subtract 1 hour for the smaller pudding and add 1 hour for the larger pudding – you will smell the scent of delicious Christmas pudding when it is ready).
To set light to the pudding: Warm about 125 ml of alcohol (brandy or vodka) in a small saucepan (but do not boil). Dim the lights in the dining room and bring the pudding to the table. Pour the warm alcohol over the pud and set light to it (a barbecue lighter is ideal). Walking in with a flaming pud looks dramatic but you are courting danger.
Don’t worry if you haven’t made your pudding yet – it’s not too late. If you really can’t face making your own, don’t beat yourself up over buying a good shop bought one. If you are in Dubai, and want one with alcohol, I spotted some tiny puds laced with 10-year-old The Macallan whisky in MMI; if you search the forums a few home bakers are making them; and you can feed a store-bought one with brandy for a few weeks just as you would for a Christmas cake.
Watch out for more slow cooker festive recipes over the coming weeks. Have you made your Christmas pud and what will you be serving it with?