In Going Home by Harriet Evans, Lizzy Walter, along with her cousin, Tom, and younger sister, Jess, is going home for Christmas. There is always a big family Christmas at the family home, Keeper House, deep in the countryside.
When they arrive, they're greeted by parents, a cup of tea, homemade stollen, the smell of a Christmas tree in the hall and something baking in the aga. Then there's sloe gin. Frank Sinatra. Carolers outside. Familiar smells and sounds to Lizzy. Home. Christmas. Family.
On Christmas Day, they go to church and come back to feast on a massive Christmas dinner. And everyone lapses into complete silence as they tuck in to the mountain of food in front of them. Yet they still have room for Christmas pudding and mince pies before the toasts are made. It is the same every year.
12oz/ 340g currants
4oz/115g glace cherries chopped
2oz/55g mixed chopped nuts
2oz/55g plain flour
2 tsps mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp grated nutmeg
8oz/225g sugar (white or brown)
8oz/225g fresh white breadcrumbs
Grated rind lemon
1/4 pint Guinness
1 grated apple (no need to peel)
1 grated carrot
handful of chopped prunes
4 oz/115g candied peel
2oz/55g desiccated coconut
You could also use any sort of stout instead of Guinness. Or whiskey, or an ale. If you don’t like the thought of alcohol at all, use milk or orange juice.
- Mix together all the fruit and nuts.
- Sieve flour and spices and add to fruit mixture with sugar, breadcrumbs, cherries and suet.
- Beat eggs and Guinness (or whiskey/ale/milk/juice) into the mixture. Add variations if using. (My mum used to put everything in. More the merrier, she says.)
- Stir well and leave overnight, then stir again and make a wish.
- Add coins if using (clean them with coca cola).
- Place into greased pudding basin. Either one 4 pint, two 2 pint, or 4 small.
Cover, first with greaseproof paper with a pleat, then with foil. If you aren’t sure how to do this BBC Good Food has a fantastic video to show you how.
- Steam for 4-8 hours according to size.
- Uncover and leave to cool.
- Then recover with paper and foil and store until required. Make sure it is air tight.
- On Christmas Day, steam for 3 hours or microwave for 5 mins on full power (remove foil cover and replace with cling film). Do not microwave if you have placed coins inside!
Serve with brandy butter or sauce, rum sauce or custard.