Today’s post is dedicated to the process of steaming a Christmas pudding using a crockpot. When my mother cooked her puddings each year, they simmered for hours on the stove top, but I have found a fantastic, American solution for a pudding’s long cooking process.
I fell in love with my crockpot many years ago, when I first came to America. It truly is a wonderful cooking appliance, perfect for steaming a traditional Irish Christmas pudding.
My recipe for Irish American Mom’s Christmas Pudding is available on yesterday’s post and by clicking here. I decided to write a separate tutorial on how to steam the pudding, since otherwise, yesterday’s post would have gone on forever and a day.
We pick up the recipe at the point where the mixture has rested for a minimum of 12 hours to maximize the blending of all the fabulous flavors
Grease two glass bowls by brushing them with melted butter inside. This recipe makes two puddings, a 1 and 1/2 quart size, and a second, larger, 2 and 1/2 quart size. I did this since glass bowls are usually sold in nesting sets, and most people do not own two bowls the exact same size. Make sure your glass bowls are heat resistant and can withstand immersion in boiling water.
Fill each of the bowls with pudding mixture to within one inch of the bowl rim. About two-thirds of the mix will fill the larger bowl. The mixture is significantly less moist than when it was first mixed. Overnight, the dried fruit absorbs the eggs and Guinness, making them plump and delicious.
Here is a side view of the mixture in the glass bowl.
Next we have to prepare the bowl for steaming. Cut a square of parchment paper around the bowl, allowing an extra 6 inches outside the rim of the bowl.
Create a fold in the center of the parchment paper. This will be placed over the center of the bowl’s diameter, and will allow steam to accumulate within the enclosed bowl, without bursting its paper bonnet.
Cover the bowl with the parchment paper, with the fold over the center. Using cotton thread or twine securely tie the parchment paper, just below the rim of the bowl. Make sure your thread is not made of nylon or a synthetic plastic fiber, since this could melt during the cooking process. Cut off any excess paper with a scissors.
Now cover the entire bowl with aluminum foil, with the closure over the top of the bowl.
Next, it is important to create a handle with cotton twine or thread, to facilitate lifting the bowl in and out of the crockpot. Place the bowl over the thread approximately 3 feet from the end. Bring the two ends of the thread towards the center of the bowl, then cross them around each other, just as would be done in tying a parcel. Working perpendicular to the first thread, work the two ends of the thread around the bottom of the bowl, returning to the center top to tie a secure knot.
Now tie another knot 5 or six inches above the knot at the center of the bowl. This creates a looped handle for lifting the bowl.
Place the bowl into the crockpot, making sure the edge of the bowl is at least a 1/2 inch from the walls of the crockpot basin. I use a 7-quart crockpot to cook the larger pudding, and a 4-quart one for the smaller pudding. If you only have one crockpot, the second pudding can wait until after the first one has cooked. This mixture does not spoil quickly since it contains so much alcohol. Add water to the crockpot until it reaches three-quarter ways up the pudding bowl.
Place the lid on the crockpot and turn to high for 1 hour. Reduce the heat to the low setting and continue to cook on low for 6 more hours for the larger pudding, and for an additional 5 hours for the smaller pudding. Check the crockpot about half way through cooking, to make sure all of the water has not evaporated. If the water level is very low, add some boiling water. Do not add cold water as this will slow down the cooking process.
At the end of cooking, lift the bowl out of the crockpot using the handle created earlier. Use an oven mitt to protect your hands from steam. Do not open the pudding until after it has cooled for 2 hours in its wrapping.
Remove the aluminum foil and parchment cover on the bowl. Take a deep breath and inhale the wonderful aroma of Christmas pudding wafting through the air. Stand back and admire the lovely fruited surface of your pudding.
Next place a plate over the bowl with the serving side towards the pudding. Turn the plate and pudding over and let them stand for a few minutes. Gravity will take over, releasing the pudding onto the plate.
Christmas pudding is best if made four to six weeks in advance of Christmas. It’s flavors enhance over time. Allow the pudding to cool completely prior to storing it. Cover it in aluminum foil and place it in an airtight container. These puddings can be stored for upto 3 months without spoiling. No need to freeze them.
Christmas tradition involves setting the pudding alight before serving. If planning to do so, the pudding needs to be reheated. This can be done in a crockpot once again. First the pudding needs to be replaced into the steaming bowl, and prepared for steaming as outlined above. Reheat on the high setting for 1 to 2 hours in the crockpot.
Christmas pudding is served with egg custard, whipped cream or, with my favorite, brandy butter.
The week before Christmas I will post another tutorial on how to set your pudding aflame, together with my Mom’s recipe for brandy butter. (My apologies for not getting to these posts before Christmas this year. My blogging schedule got delayed due to important commitments. I’ll photograph my pudding lighting this Christmas 2012 so that I will have the post prepared well in advance for next year!!! Thanks for understanding. )
In the meantime, have fun steaming your puddings.
Once again, here is the printable version of the complete recipe.
Slan agus beannacht leat!
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom