This is the recipe for the Christmas pudding that we serve at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons and is the result of 20 years’ development. Each ingredient plays an important role. Ideally you should be making this in November to give the flavours time to mature. It can actually be made up to two months in advance and stored in a cool place, ready to be re-heated on the big day.
For the pudding:
Candied peel, chopped
Apple, Granny Smith, grated
Orange, zest and juice
Breadcrumbs, brown bread
Sugar, brown Muscovado
Treacle, warmed in a pan of water to loosen
Egg, medium, organic or free range
Cognac to seal the pudding
For the Armagnac butter:
Armagnac to flame
To prepare the puddings:
Prepare your basins by greasing them well, with a little butter.
In a large bowl, mix all of the pudding ingredients together thoroughly. Fill the pudding basins to 1cm below the rim.
Now cover with a circle of greaseproof paper followed by a large piece of foil. Tie this tightly around with a piece of string.
To cook the pudding:
Steam the pudding for 5 hours, or the smaller ones for 3 ½ to 4 hours. If you do not have a steamer, cook the puddings on a wire rack in a pan of simmering water topping it up occasionally. Once cooked, remove the basins from the steamer and leave to cool. Unwrap and pour 50ml of Armagnac to cover and re-wrap in cling film. Store in a cool place until needed.
To make the Armagnac butter:
With a whisk, cream the butter until white. Beat in the sugar gradually. Add the Armagnac little by little. Beat it in thoroughly, and should the mixture show any sign of curdling, do not add all of the alcohol, as you can pour it over the top of the pudding when serving.
The butter should be white and foamy. Refrigerate until needed.
Reheating and serving:
Re-heat the pudding by steaming it for about 2 hours (if you have made two smaller ones then re-heat for about 1 hour). The longer you steam them, the darker they will become.
Turn the puddings out onto a serving dish, and decorate with some holly.
Heat and flame a ladleful of Armagnac, pour it over the pudding and serve with the Armagnac butter separately.