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Kitchen Queries

Welcome to Kitchen Queries, where the nigella.com team will answer your cooking or food related questions.  We’d love you to submit some of your recipe problems, dilemmas or queries for us to get our teeth into!

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Please note, we are only able to answer questions selected for publication and aren't able to enter into personal correspondence.

Latest Queries

  • Heating Christmas Pudding

    We're making Nigella's Christmas pudding this year but we will be taking it to my new daughter-in-law's parents for Christmas Day. There will be a crowd so the hostess doesn't want a pudding steaming away for the final stage of cooking when she's got so much else to do. Should we do the final stage of steaming beforehand and re-heat with microwave on the day? If so, for how long and at what temperature? Any helpful suggestions would be much appreciated. Molly,Mid-Wales  

    On Christmas Day could I microwave the pudding rather than steaming for 3 hours? Laurence 1.

    I've always wondered why Christmas pudding has to be steamed again on Christmas day. Why can't it be gently reheated in the oven while we're all eating the turkey? I've just made the ultimate Christmas Pudding, which smells wonderful with the lovely sherry, and it's now steaming for five hours. Can I steam it for eight hours and then reheat in the oven? (I realise this email won't be answered while my pudding is steaming now, but I would be interested in knowing. I will follow the instructions as given.) Thank you, Christine.  

    For Christmas lunch I do not have a spare hob to further steam the pud. If after previously steaming for 8 hourat what setting can I microwave the pudding for, and how many minutes. Thanks.   

    I have made the CHristmas Pudding and am slightly nervous. The pudding rose during the first five hour steaming to make contact with the lid of the pudding basin: virtually no room left in the bowl for further expansion. Now, when cooled, the pudding has receded into the basin once more and has sucked the lid down with it. Should I release the vacuum that has formed, or leave it? Will the pudding regain its rather spectacular dimensions on Christmas day when it is due a further three hours of steaming? I'm slightly concerned that it looked really light and fluffy during initial steaming (for a Christmas pudding) and that now it has shrunk, it looks a lot heavier. Any expertise greatly appreciated. Dornfield.

    From the nigella team:

    It is possible to reheat Nigella's Ultimate Christmas Pudding in a microwave, providing it is made in a microwaveable bowl (preferably the plastic bowls as ceramic bowls get quite hot when in the microwave). Ideally we would suggest that when the pudding is made it is steamed for  8 hours (the combined time of the first and second steamings) as the steaming is important for the flavour of the pudding. The pudding can then be microwaved to reheat it on Christmas Day.

    If you have already made the pudding then you could give it a second steaming on Christmas Eve, cool it as quickly as possible and refrigerate it unti it is needed, then microwave it to reheat. However we would caution on keeping and reheating any leftovers if using this method, as foods should not be reheated more than twice. 

    We can only give rough guidelines for microwaving the pudding but loosen the top of the pudding basin or poke holes in any clingfilm wrapping (do not use foil in the microwave). For an 800w oven microwave on full power for 4 minutes, stand for 3 minutes, microwave on low/defrost for 7 minutes then stand again for 5 minutes. Check that the pudding is piping hot all of the way through before turning ot out and serving it. If it is still cool in the middle then microwave on full power, in 1 minute bursts and then standing for 1 minute, until hot.

    Christmas puddings tend to be steamed as it is a very gentle method of cooking. On Christmas Day most people find that the oven is pretty fully used for the turkey and other foods and it is more convenient to steam the pudding on the stove top, where it can cook away without too much attention. If you did want to do the second cooking in the oven then you would need to put the pudding in a bain marie/hot water bath (a deep roasting pan filled with hot water) and baked for 3 hours at 150c/300F. You would need to check the bain marie a couple of times during cooking and topping up the hot water if necessary.

    Christmas Puddings will tend to shrink back when they cool after cooking  and you should bear in mind that a Christmas Pudding will not have a sponge-type texture, but will be closer to the texture of a fruit cake. It may expand a little again on the second steaming but should not fill the basin. We would suggest that you do release any vacuum that has been formed under the lid, though if you prefer you can do this just before the second steaming. 


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