The recipe didn't have any method or cooking instructions with it so I checked other recipes and came up with this way of making the puddings. This recipe is enough to make two two-pound puddings.
Start by preparing the pudding bowls. I greased mine liberally with butter. Now take a piece of baking parchment and fold a pleat in it; about an inch wide. Do the same with a piece of tin foil. You'll need baking parchment and foil for each pudding bowl.
Some more preparation is helpful at this stage. Measure the flour, add in the bicarbonate of soda and spices and sift into a bowl. Leave to one side. Get two pots, each big enough to hold one of the pudding bowls and with room enough to allow you to set the bowl down into the pot (rather than just dropping in). Put an upturned saucer in the bottom of each pot.
To make the pudding you will need a really big baking bowl; the biggest you can find. Cream the margarine (actually I used butter) and sugar together. I then added the eggs, one at a time, with a heaped spoonful of the flour and spice mixture. Beat this in each time until the egg and flour is fully incorporated.
Add the remainder of the flour (if there is any left), the breadcrumbs and the dried fruit. Give it all a bit of a stir to mix it in. Wash, peel and core the apples and then grate them into the mixture. Give it all a really good stir.
It's quite a moist mixture at this stage.
Now divide the mixture between the two pudding bowls. Smooth the top nicely; it doesn't really rise when it's cooked. I would say this is a good time to fill the kettle and put it on to boil; a full kettle.
Here it is, ready to be covered and steamed.
Now cover over the baking parchment with the tin foil. Bring the baking parchment and foil down over the sides of the pudding bowl and secure them tightly with some string. You can also make a string handle if you wish, for lifting the pudding out when it is cooked.
Unfortunately, at this stage I must have stopped taking photos! Anyway, carefully lower each pudding bowl into its pot. Fill the pot with boiling water until it comes about half way up the bowl. Since I have an Aga, steaming the puddings is really easy. First bring the water back to the boil on the boiling plate. Then transfer the pots to the simmering plate and keep them there for thirty minutes. Now the pots can go into the simmering oven where they can be left undisturbed for at least five hours and anything up to eight or nine hours. The longer you steam the pudding, the darker it gets.
For a normal cooker you bring the water to the boil on a high heat. Then you have to keep the pots on a low heat so that the water is just simmering. Unlike the Aga cooking method, you have to keep checking the water level and top it up when necessary with more boiling water. Again, you need to steam the puddings for at least five hours; anything up to eight or nine hours.
When the steaming time is finished, very carefully lift the pudding bowls out of the pots.
Here is one of my finished puddings. See how dark it has become?
You might need to run a knife round the inside of the pudding bowl in order to release each pudding. It should then slide out easily. Leave the puddings until they are completely cold and then wrap them twice in cling film and twice in tin foil. Christmas pudding can actually be frozen at this stage though it keeps for ages anyway. There's a lot of debate about just how long it keeps so I'm not going to give a definite time. If your family is anything like mine then it won't last too long and there'll be no need to worry if it's still alright the following Christmas!
So there you have it. Please let me know if you make some puddings. Also contact me if you have any questions and I'll try to answer them. Thanks for your great comments about my apples. And yes, I used some of them in my Christmas puddings. Bye for now.