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The top 5 Christmas puddings

Friday, November 29, 2013

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A yummy Christmas pudding

You may well have had the biggest Christmas dinner known to man and feel like you are ready to pop but at the mere mention of a Christmas dessert, you somehow conjure up the ability to enjoy a slice regardless.

It was tough narrowing it down (we haven't included sticky toffee pudding, and rhubarb crumble, to name but a few), but we're sure you'll agree, that these are definite top five Christmas puds.

1. Christmas pudding

Irrespective of what dessert traditions you may have, it is fair to say that there will be a Christmas pudding knocking about. Go authentic this season with your own version of the classic dish.

Ingredients & method

To make one large pudding you will need:

  • 110g (4oz) shredded suet
  • 50g (2oz) self-raising flour, sifted
  • 110g (4oz) white breadcrumbs
  • 1 level tsp ground mixed spice
  • ¼ level tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • A pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 225g (8oz) soft, dark brown sugar
  • 110g (4oz) sultanas
  • 110g (4oz) raisins
  • 275g (10oz) currants
  • 25g (1oz) mixed candied peel, chopped finely
  • 25g (1oz) almonds, skinned and chopped
  • 1 small cooking apple, peeled, cored and chopped finely
  • ½ large orange zest, grated
  • ½ large lemon zest, grated
  • 2 tbsp rum
  • 75ml (2½ fl oz) barley wine
  • 75ml (2½ fl oz) stout
  • 2 large eggs

Method

  • Grab a large bowl and put in suet, breadcrumbs and sifted flour, sugar and spices (grated nutmeg, ground mixed spice and cinnamon). Mix thoroughly and then add the dried fruit, almonds, lemon zests, grated orange, chopped cooking apple and candied peel. Continue to mix.
  • Take a small bowl and add two tablespoons of rum, 75ml of stout and 75ml of barley wine and two large eggs (three small). Beat thoroughly; add to the large bowl and then mix. Ideally it should have a sloppy consistency. If it is too dry, add more stout.
  • Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave to soak for a few hours (overnight is better, as the flavours have more time to infuse). Now you move on to steaming. Fill a saucepan with boiling water and place a steamer on top.
  • Place mixture in a greased bowl and cover with greaseproof paper and then kitchen foil over that. Tie tightly with string (and make a handle on top) and place into the steamer for eight hours (do not let the water boil).
  • Once steamed, allow the pudding to cool and then remove foil and paper. Serve with single cream.

2. Trifle

A lavish dessert, the Christmas trifle is packed with plenty of scrumptious flavours and delivers first class results in terms of texture. This is a dish that will prove to be a captivating tasting experience for all guests.

Ingredients & method

To make a portion serving 6-8, you’ll need:

  • Four handfuls of chopped fruit (whatever you’d like, but you can’t go wrong with apricots, pears and figs)
  • 600ml (21 fl oz) double cream (or 300ml cream, 300ml milk)
  • 6 medium egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp corn flour, sifted
  • 50g (2oz) caster sugar
  • Vanilla pod with seeds
  • Boudoir biscuits (also known as lady fingers)
  • 100ml (3½ fl oz) sherry
  • Amaretti/Ratafia biscuits, crushed
  • 350ml (12 fl oz) double cream, whipped
  • Dried fruit, for decoration

Method

  • Begin with putting together the compote. Place the chopped fruit in a small pan. Add a modest amount of water and simmer for ten minutes until the fruit is soft and the water syrupy.
  • Allow to cool and move on to making the custard. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks, the corn flour and caster sugar in a heatproof bowl. At the same time pour the double cream with the sliced vanilla pod into a saucepan.
  • Simmer and then place into egg mixture and whisk. Place back in the saucepan and continue to whisk until it turns thick (coats the back of a wooden spoon). Pour into a fresh bowl and jug and cover with cling film.
  • Get yourself a glass bowl and lay a foundation layer of boudoir biscuits. Over the top of this pour the compote, followed by the sherry. Finish by covering with crushed Amaretti or Ratafia biscuits.
  • Add the cooled custard on top, cover with cling film and place in a fridge to set. When cooled, whip the double cream and add to the top. Decorate with crushed Amaretti or dried fruit.

3. Yule Log

To all intents the Yule log is not so dissimilar to a chocolate log but it has a decidedly festive history. The dessert owes its existence to a long and hard log that is burned in a hearth/fireplace on Christmas Eve in European countries.

Ingredients & method

To make a portion serving 8-10, you’ll need:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 100g (3½ oz) caster sugar
  • 65g (2oz) self-raising flour, sifted
  • 40g (1½oz) cocoa powder
  • 600ml (21 fl oz) double cream
  • 300g (10½oz) dark chocolate, chopped

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease a Swiss roll tin and then line with baking parchment. You can begin on the sponge now. Grab a large bowl and whisk eggs and caster sugar (ideally with an electric whisk) until pale, thick and frothy.
  • Sift into the mix self-raising flour and cocoa powder, folding with a spatula. Pour into the tin and spread evenly. Place tin on to the middle shelf of the oven for 10 to 20 minutes (until well risen and firm). Toss on to a baking paper that has been generously sprinkled with icing sugar.
  • Score a line one inch inside and roll with the paper still attached to it. Allow to cool.
  • Now you can move on to making the ganache topping. Get a pan and place half the double cream (300ml) in it and heat until warm (do not boil).
  • Remove from heat and add dark chocolate that has been chopped. Stir until it melts into the cream and allow to cool to room temperature before putting in the fridge to firm.
  • Unfold the roll and spread inside the remaining 300ml of double whipped cream – and roll back up (this time without the paper). It should set in place.
  • Next, dollop the ganache all over the roll or, to create an authentic tree-like effect, score lines along the dish. Dust with icing sugar and there you have it, a scrumptious and very decadent Yule log.

4. Mince pies

Dating back to the 13th century, the mince pie has long been a Christmas staple, originating from Middle Eastern recipes containing meats, fruits and spices.

Ingredients & method

To make 12 mince pies, you’ll need:

  • 350g (12oz) mincemeat
  • 200g (7oz) plain flour, sifted
  • 40g (1½ oz) golden caster syrup
  • 75g (2¾ oz) ground almonds
  • 125g (4½ oz) unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Milk, to glaze

Method

  • Lightly butter a 12 hole pie tin.
  • Tip the mincemeat into a bowl and stir. Put the flour, sugar, almonds and butter into a food processor and blend until resembling breadcrumbs. Then slowly add the egg to the mix.
  • Roll the mixture together with your hands and wrap in cling film to chill for around an hour.
  • Thinly roll the pastry onto a floured surface and cut out 12 circles with a fluted pastry cutter – large enough to fill the base of the pie tin. Press gently into each of the holes and then fill with the mincemeat.
  • Cut out 12 slightly smaller circles and use to cover the mincemeat. Press the edges together to seal.
  • Cut a small slit in the top of each pie and then brush lightly with milk, to glaze. Put in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. Whilst chilling, preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack and serve warm with brandy butter, if desired.

5. Stollen

A traditional German cake, eaten during the Christmas period, this cake is also known as Weihnachtsstollen or Christstollen. A festival - Stollenfest - is held annually in Dresden, where a three to four tonne stollen is paraded through the streets in a carriage.

Ingredients & method

To serve 8-12 portions, you’ll need:

  • 100ml (3¼ fl oz) warm milk
  • 2 tsp dried yeast
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 225g (8oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 200g (7oz) mixed dried fruit (including glacé cherries)
  • 25g (1oz) flaked almonds
  • 50g (2oz) unsalted butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 250g (9oz) marzipan
  • 25g (1oz) butter, melted
  • 50g (2oz) icing sugar

Method

  • Place the yeast and milk into a bowl and mix well. Leave it to sit for 5-6 minutes.
  • Sift the salt, flour, sugar and mixed spice into a large bowl. Add the almonds, dried fruit and butter and mix well.
  • Add to this the yeast and milk mixture and mix well.
  • Add the egg and stir, to make a dough. Knead the dough for 5-6 minutes and then cover.
  • Leave this to prove for 20 minutes.
  • Uncover the dough and turn it out onto a clean, floured work surface. Using your hands, knock the dough back to reduce the volume, and then knead again for 3-4 minutes.
  • Push and roll the dough out by hand into a flat oval shape about 23cm x 18cm.
  • Roll the marzipan into a piece around 18cm x 5cm and place in the centre of the dough. Fold over the sides of the dough to seal the marzipan in.
  • Place the stolen seal-side down onto a greased baking tray. Cover and place somewhere to prove for an hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  • Place the stollen onto the baking tray in the oven to bake for 40 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.
  • To finish, remove from the oven, brush with melted butter and dust with icing sugar.
  • Allow to cool and service in slices.

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