Be Joyous Dear One. You still have time to make the worlds most Magical Pudding. My Nanna Ruth’s.
In my house growing up, this luscious mix of fruit, sugar, brandy and tuppence was stirred by one and all, wishing as we went. Normally on a frosty country Saturday afternoon in June, the Rothheudt kids would wait in line for their turn to grasp the wooden spoon. Tiny muscles heaving I and my three brothers would merrily tumble that glorious mix, often sticking in a finger for a lick whilst mama’s back was turned. Lady Moss managed to get ours put away five weeks out this year, but really you could do it now with no harm done to flavour whatsoever.
I still remember many of my wishes, fervently uttered under a heady cloud of brandy and spice and I am glad to speak them still. Happiness for my family, health for my brother and that he never spend a Christmas in hospital and would Santa please remember I wanted twin My Little Ponies. Strangely enough I always ended my request with a whispered Amen, a habit that has remained a constant presence and comfort to me, more still as a mother.
This special recipe fills me with much joy to share Dear Reader. Please see it as a gift to cherish, from me to you. I proudly carry my Grandmothers name, her cake making ability, her obsession for absolute quality in shoes and her greatest lesson, strength. She has taught me that, no matter the heft of the burden, I can always dig deeper and find more courage to hold steady.
I recount this recipe in ounces for that is how it has been handed down to me:
4 oz dates chopped
1 cup water
1/2 cup (very loosely measured) brandy
1/2 cup brown sugar
You will also need at least one other to share the load, for no other reason that noone should be alone at Christmas.
Wash and dry fruit, place in a tray and liberally drizzle with brandy. Leave this for at least 24 hours.
Day Two or Three (depending on the size of your brandy hangover):
Place fruit, sugar, butter and water in a pot over medium heat.
Stir until the sugar dissolves and then simmer for 8 minutes.
Remove from the stove and stir in bicarb. In front of an audience of Littles is best for an impromptu science lesson.
Leave this to cool.
1 cup plain flour
1 cup self raising flour
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Combine the dry ingredients and whisked egg into the luscious fruit mixture.
Gather your family, friends, neighbours, courier around to each make a wish as they stir. If you can get your hands on a few vintage tuppence they make a thoughtful addition and a nod to the past.
Feel free to add another generous slug of brandy should you like. Lady Moss likes to. Very much.
We use a porcelain pudding bain in Rainbow Lane, mostly for sentimental value but you could use anything that will snugly fit your mixture and allow it to steam. Cover well with baking paper, two layers of foil and tie with kitchen string.
Place in a large, deep pot and fill to 2/3 with water. Steam this four hours long before placing at the back of your fridge to sit and ripen until Christmas. Try to abstain from opening the wrapping a pinch for a smell. Ha I dare you.
On the day you serve, (assuming you could wait til Christmas) steam for a further two hours before you gather all around to cheer as you yet again drench in brandy and set alight your creation.
To serve, pour over good quality cream, custard or Hard Sauce which simply put, is butter, icing sugar and brandy amalgamated into a mass of heavenly goodness when spooned on top of a hot pudding.