Christmas Pudding - the whole story

Not me, but Zeltus has generated the family history of the Christmas pudding from our Maternal side of the family and it can be found here

I like his christmas pudding, I make the mincemeat - though mine was made way back in January and has been soaking up the brandy ever since...

Will be putting up the recipe for the pastry to go with the mincemeat recipe above..

Somerset Cider Cake


175g sultanas
150ml dry cider
280g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
225g unrefined caster sugar
180g unsalted Butter
2 Eggs
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large cooking apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

Method 1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas 3. Grease a round silicon cake tin and line the base with a circle of greaseproof paper.

2. Soak the sultanas in the cider for about 20 minutes.

3. Sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon into a bowl.

4. Cream the sugar and butter for about 5 minutes until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating as you go.

5. Fold in the dry ingredients, the lemon zest and the sliced apples.

6. Stir in the soaked sultanas, along with any remaining cider.

7. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

8. Cool in the tin, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Lavender/Strawberry Vodka (or Gin)

400g/14 oz strawberries Hulled and thickly sliced
175g/6 oz caster sugar
8 Large Lavender flowers
750ml/1 1/4 pint/3 cups of Gin or Vodka.

Put the strawberries, sugar and lavender into a large wide necked jar. Pour on the Gin or Vodka and seal.

Leave the jar in a cool place for 7 days giving it a gentle shake each day.

Strain the Gin or Vodka off the fruit and lavender, then pour it back into the original bottle or into two smaller more decorative bottles. Seal well. Store in a cool place for up to four months

From the book Herbcrafts by Tessa Evelegh ISBN 1 85967 3430

Cottage Cider - Strong stuff!!

Still working on making use of the windfall harvest of apples.

12lbs or so of mixed apples
1 gallon warm water
1lb raisins
1 1/2 - 2lbs sugar

Wash and chop apples, place in bin, add water, raisins, sugar and activated yeast. Stir well and cover. Leave in a warm place for 2 weeks, stir and push down the pulp daily.

Strain the liquid into a demi john, leave to ferment out; transfer to a cooler place for a month or so, then siphon into strong bottles. Can be drunk soon after, but improves with age.

This is from Home Made Country Wines - tried and tested recipes collected by The Farmers Weekly.

Vanilla Apple Cake (c)

(c) Sweet and Simple Bakes

250g/9oz unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
250g/9oz golden caster sugar (or normal caster sugar)
4 eggs, beaten
250g/9oz self-raising flour
1 vanilla pod, split, seeds removed and reserved (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
3 small Bramley apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges (or any other type of cooking apple, if not apple of your choice)
2 tbsp Demerera sugar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon

Step 1: Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter a 20cm/8inch springform tin, then line the base with baking paper.
Step 2: Beat the caster sugar and butter together until the mixture turns pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, flour and vanilla seeds, then beat together quickly to make a smooth batter.
Step 3: Tip into the prepared tin, then lay the apple wedges on top, poking them halfway into the mix. Don’t worry if the apples appear crowded – they’ll shrink as they cook. Sprinkle with the Demerera and cinnamon, then bake for 1 hour 5 mins, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean and the sponge is risen and golden.
Step 4: Leave to cool for a few mins, then release the tin and cool the cake completely on a wire rack.

Notes : I used a silicone cake dish, so left the cake to cool in that on top of a cake rack and it seemed to work well.

I served it warm with Clotted cream, but can be eaten warm with custard or cold with good quality vanilla ice-cream.


1 lb (450 g) Braeburn apples (or similar), cored and chopped small (no need to peel them)
4 oz (225 g) shredded vegetable Suet
1lb (450g) luxury mixed dried fruit or use whatever dried fruit mix you prefer
6 oz (350 g) soft dark brown sugar
grated zest and juice 2 oranges
grated zest and juice 2 lemons
2 oz (50 g) chopped Pecan Nuts
2 level teaspoons mixed ground spice
¼ level teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ level teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Combine all the ingredients, except for the brandy, in a large mixing bowl, mixing them together.

Then cover the bowl with foil, and leave the overnight to absorb the spices.

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 70°C . Place the boil in the oven for about 3 hours, then remove the bowl from the oven and place on the side; the mincemeat will look as though it is swimming in fat, this is quite normal.

As it cools, stir it from time to time to break up the coagulating fat which should encase all the other ingredients.

When the mincemeat is quite cold, add the brandy and stir well. I keep it in a kilner jar in my kitchen cupboard and throughout the year add brandy to ensure by the time it is Christmas that is well and truly drenched with alcohol.

I make small pies with sweet pastry and literally it is only 2 bites a pie so in the cooking the alcohol with burn off leaving just the taste of the brandy behind but this is my adapation you could simply pack the mixture into sterelized jars covered with waxed discs and sealed.