Oh that thorny problem of what to buy your friends and family. It seems to get harder every year and with a limited budget to spend, I often decided to make my own gifts. In the past I have made Christmas coffee and tea and packed it in attractive jars, as well as spice mixes, soup, Irish style cream liqueur, stuffing, hot chocolate mix and of course there’s always chutney, jams, jellies, mincemeat and sundry preserves.
Following on from another very successful recipe I created last year on Great British Chefs, Christmas morning muffins in a jar, I decided to be even more ambitious this year and devise a pudding in a jar, and not just any pudding, but a Christmas pudding! I thought that this would be the perfect gift for most of my family and friends, who all seem to be avid foodies . . . plus, the gift isn’t just in the jar, but the lucky recipients get to keep the jar too, along with a wooden spoon and if you are really feeling flush, you could also add the pudding bowl.
I also believe that this gift will also change many 'pudding haters' and turn them into converts, as it is a light, fruity and carefree kind of pudding – bursting with plump fruits and spices, it’s golden with a loose crumb which makes it lighter and less dense than the usual dark pudding. If you want to add a silver charm or sixpence, that’s a great idea and again, if the budget allows it, why not add a sixpence in the jar on top.
Pack the fruits, flour, sugar and other ingredients in the pudding recipe in layers, as they are listed in the ingredients list. Pop a red ribbon around the neck of the jar with a luggage label for the cooking instructions, attach a wooden spoon and you have a thoughtful and very tasty edible gift to give to someone. Then all the recipient has to do is to tip all the ingredients into a mixing bowl, add two eggs and some booze (I have suggested sherry as it is a light pudding) and a drop of milk (or stout) and then mix it together before packing it into a pudding basin – you can then steam it for 3 hours, or, you can microwave it for 15–20 minutes.
Make sure you use vegetarian suet if you have veggie friends and also try to use high-quality dried fruits too – not the old, shrivelled fruits you might have lurking at the bottom of your cupboards! If you want to douse it in brandy (or sherry) and flambé it to serve, then that’s a great idea and you can add that to the cooking instructions on the label.
Choose an attractive jar with a tight sealing lid, and this gift will keep for up to 1 week in a cool place. I hope this recipe proves handy for those of you who stuck for ideas for unique and thrifty Christmas gifts!
'Tip the contents of the jar into a large mixing bowl. Add 2 beaten eggs, 4 tablespoons of sherry and 150ml of milk. Mix well and then pack the pudding batter into a well-buttered 2 ½ pint (900ml) pudding basin. Cover with greaseproof paper and foil and steam for 3 hours. Or, cover with greaseproof paper and cling film and microwave on half power for 15–20 minutes, depending on your microwave. Turn out once cooked and serve with cream, brandy butter or custard. Store in a cool place and use within 4 weeks.'