Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Nigel Slater's Christmas Pudding; Cheese Update

How are your Christmas preparations coming along? Do you like to make food for gifts? Do you have traditional plum pudding, and if so, do you make it yourself?

I like to make food for gifts each year, as I have done for the past 4 years. I haven't made a pudding every year, but on a personal level, it wouldn't feel like Christmas if we didn't have plum pudding and custard for Christmas dinner. Sure, it might be 30 degrees Celsius with blazing sunshine outside, but to me, there is nothing like the smell and taste of plum pudding. Because it is only a once a year treat, it is extra special.

I made my plum pudding back in October so that it could mature and smell all spicy and boozy by Christmas, but you don't have to make it that early. My pudding will mostly be divided up and given to friends in Christmas gift boxes, but oddly, my Mum has asked if I could save a piece for her this year. I am happy to do so, but am curious because she has never asked for some before.

This year, I chose to make Nigel Slater's Christmas pudding from The Kitchen Diaries. You can also find the recipe online here. I only made a half recipe, as I didn't want two puddings. Nigel's pudding uses suet, which I have not used in plum pudding before. I just used boxed dried suet, as getting fresh suet is almost impossible in Australia.

Nigel's pudding is unusual in that it is quite light in colour - I am used to dark plum puddings. As to taste - I can't tell you about that just yet, but if you are interested, let me know and I will give an update in due course.

This pudding requires three and a half hours to steam, so you need to make it on a day when you can be at home the whole time to make sure that the pudding doesn't boil dry. Although Nigel says that you can reheat it for eating the same way, I recommend just cutting it into slices and microwaving it for 30 seconds or until heated through - especially if you are in the Southern Hemisphere for Christmas and the thought of steaming up your house is not appealing.

Nigel says he steamed the pudding using china bowls with paper and string tops, but I used a much more modern metal steamer with a clip-on lid.

The pudding looks like a beauty, so I can't wait to try it.

On a different topic, you may remember that I made camembert in a cheesemaking class recently. Finally, after 15 days of changing the ice almost daily in an esky "ice cave", here is my camembert, covered with downy white mould:

I worried about the wrinkly top, but my research shows that this is OK. As an educated guess, I understand that it is to do with the geotrychum used to encourage the growth of the penicillium, and the fact that the temperature in the esky may have been a little warmer from time to time than was ideal, encouraging the geotrychum to grow more quickly than the penicillium. Certain cheeses are actually supposed to have this wrinkly "geotrychum" rind, so as far as I am concerned, all is well.

I have transferred the camembert to the fridge, wrapped in baking paper and alfoil, to ripen for at least 5 weeks. That means no camembert for Christmas!

I also used the mozarella to make another pizza - this time, I brushed the pizza base with olive oil, sprinkled it with salt and pepper, and topped it with chunks of mozarella and gorgonzola and thin slices of ripe pear, followed by more seasoning:

This pizza was fabulous! I can't choose between this one and the Hawaiian version.

Stay tuned - more Christmas baking ideas will follow over the next couple of weeks.

Finally, I wanted to add a quick note to remember the 30th anniversary of John Lennon's passing. I am a huge Beatles fan, although the Beatles split up before I was born. I would love to know what John might have been doing musically if he was still with us. RIP John.


Kayte said...

Oh, Gaye, I don't know which looks better, the plum pudding or the pizza...I have to say that I would love to have a slice of each one and couldn't choose if I had to make a choice! I love reading about your cheese making experiences. I am so tempted to get onboard with that next next great frontier to conquer. I have never had a plum pudding but have read about them and it just seems like something that I should save until I go to England and have it there...seeing yours makes me think I shouldn't wait.

Gloria Baker said...

Cakelaw your Christmas pudding look awesome! I love pizza too! x gloria

Anonymous said...

Your pizza looks delicious! I love anything with pear. I'm saddened that you won't be able to have your cheese at Christmas, but right after the new year would definitely start it off right! The Beatles were popular before I was born as well, but I got hooked on them when I saw "A Hard Day's Night" on PBS when I was in high school and have been devoted ever since!

Cher Rockwell said...

It's so cool that you made cheese. I have tried farmer-style cheese (like a ricotta) but haven't been brave enough to go toward the "hard core" stuff.
Well done!

Johanna GGG said...

brie and pear on pizza sounds delish

I have made my christmas pudding but only a couple of weeks ago - yours looks wonderful - I am guessing it is steamed - I boil mine and have trouble with the floury skin but will post about it later - hope to get an update on yours

And RIP john lennon - watched the show on channel 7 last night and it made me so sad - we were talking about what he would have been doing now - such a loss

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I wonder how it will taste? Will you let us know? :) And RIP John Lennon!

Emily said...

Pudding and pizza! Two of my most favorite things. :)

The pudding looks excellent!

Audax said...

One of relatives (my sister-in-law mum) makes six large Christmas puddings each year in June for the extended family. She boils it in a cloth bag. It is exquisite. Your pudding looks wonderful I like light coloured puds the recipe looks straightforward I like the mass of dried fruit well done.

The cheese making class looks so great I'm so envious and your pear and cheese pizza is a great use of the home made product great.

Cheers from Audax in Sydney.

Anonymous said...

omg. i cant believe u made ur own cheese. I am terribly impressed!

Cakelaw said...

Audax, I have always wanted to try making a boiled pudding. I have always made steamed ones, but you can't deny the old worldy charm of a boiled one.

stef said...

I am currently boozing my christmas cake.... love your pizza!

Anonymous said...

I've never had plum pudding, but would like to try it. If it's boozy, it's probably pretty good! It's great that you can make it so far ahead too.