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Steaming Christmas Puddings

Asked by charzP. Answered on 23rd December 2015

Full question

When you steam the Ultimate Christmas Pudding do you need to leave the lid on, on the pot for steaming or do you leave it off with the water half way up the sides? I left mine off for my first steam but I saw another recipe by someone else where they have the pot lid on so now I'm confused. Thanks!

Hi, I make the Nonconformist Christmas Pudding every year and the family love it. This year I started steaming it at 6pm, thinking I'd turn it off before I went to bed, but woke up at 6am in a panick when I realised I hadn't turned it off - so it cooked for 12 hours. Shall I start again?

Hi I have spent the last 2 days making a variety of sizes of the Christmas puddings, which I give to family and friends every year. This year water has got into every single one. The 2 biggest are so wet they dripped through my fingers when I tipped the bowl over. Is there a way that I can rescue them or should I bin the lot? Any advice at all would be very, very welcome. Thank you. Claire

Can you cook the Christmas pudding in a steam oven and if so how long for?

Our answer

We assume that the question refers to the steamer or pan that the pudding is being cooked in. The pudding basin itself should be tightly covered. The pan or steamer attachment should be covered with a lid as this creates the steamy enviroment in which the pudding cooks, as well as trying to limit the evaporation of water from the pan and the condensation that will build up in the kitchen.

Nigella's Nonconformist Christmas Pudding is very similar to a traditional pudding, but with a more exotic mixture of fruits. The puddings can usually tolerate some extra steaming time, though it should be 4 hours rather than 12. Nigella mentions that the pudding becomes more sticky and dense as it steams. We suggest oncovering or unwrapping the pudding and taking a spoonful from the top centre part of the pudding (this will be the base when the pudding is turned out sdo won't be noticeable). Warm the sample of pudding gently in a microwave (or if you don't have a microwave then wrapped in foil in a 150c oven for 5-10 minutes) and taste it. If it tastes too heavy or overcooked then unfortunately it may be best to start again. However the pudding does not need a long maturing time so 1-2 days before Christmas would be fine. If you decide that you think you can eat the pudding then re-cover or re-wrap it and keep to the minimum 1 1/2 hours second steaming time.

If water has entered the wrapped pudding basin then it is likely that the pan was boiling a little too hard, and may also have been too full of water, meaning the water came up and over the top of the pudding basin which makes it easier for water to enter. Once the puddings have cooled, unwrap them and take them out of the basins and see if the puddings themselves have become too waterlogged. If the puddings seem to be undamaged then wash and dry the basins and return the puddings to the clean basins before re-wrapping them. If the puddings are waterlogged then they may be difficult to rescue though you may be able blot them with kitchen paper (paper towels) to remove as much water as possible and use the puddings to make Nigella's Christmas Puddini Bonbons (from Christmas and on the Nigella website) instead.

We suspect that it may be possible to cook Christmas puddings in a steam oven. However we suggest referring the oven handbook for guidance on settings and timings.

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