I my old age I have become reconciled to Christmas and am partial to pudding and mince pies, at least of the homemade variety. This particular concoction is of the right consistency to either fill mince pies or form the basis of a pudding. I initially used Microsoft Excel to do a side-by-side comparison of St Delia, Blessed Eliza, and the hysterical Empire Pudding, converting everything to metric and the same quantities to try and identify the quintessential components and ratios. In the end, old fashioned trial and error worked better.

You’ll need:

  • 500g in total of sultanas, raisins, currants, peel (nothing wrong with buying a pre-mixed bag)
  • 300g of apples (that’s probably three small or two large ones, aiming to end up with 200g grated apple)
  • 100g suet
  • two lemons: zest and juice
  • 125g muscovado sugar
  • 125mL booze (dark spiced rum, e.g. Sailor Jerry)
  • 25g almonds (flaked and bashed)
  • a solitary clove, 1tsp cinnamon, 1tsp nutmeg
  • 1tsp ground ginger

Day One. Mix the dried fruit, peel and nuts with the booze, cover with cling wrap and leave over night. I think you should use dark spiced rum for this, although some people say brandy, and some whiskey. Also, pour yourself a very small glass of rum, and when nobody is looking, down it and go, “Arrrr!!!” to commune with your Inner Pirate. If you’re feeling fancy, slip half a vanilla pod under the rum.

Day Two. Zest the lemons, and put the zest, juice, sugar and suet in a saucepan on a low heat, until the suet melts and you get a sloshy goop. Do not try and boil, melt or caramelise: fat, water and sugar on a high temperature is lethal. Add the spices. Don’t bother peeling the apples, just wash, grate coarsely and add. Now all you need do is stir this into the rest, and combine well. If you’re going to store and “mature” it then you’ll need sterilised jars etc. – I’ve only ever “matured” it for about four weeks. Otherwise, if you’re going to use it immediately, cover at let it at least sit overnight.

Day Three. Ready for action. Mince pie recipe in the following post. To transform into pudding, add one egg, 25g SR flour, and 25g breadcrumbs per 225g of finished mincemeat. The mix needs to be sloppy, so you may need to loosen it up with a splash of Guinness. (Same procedure works on the author.)

About the suet. I’ve only ever used Atora dried suet. If you can get the Real Thing from your butcher, then good luck. Melting the suet and then mixing it in means everything gets a light coating, which helps preserve things.


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