I'm planning to make the Ultimate Christmas Pudding, but sceptical about leaving it in the basin for 6 weeks. Should it not be taken out and wrapped in muslin/foil? I have a non-stick metal pudding steamer, would that affect the cooking time/process?
We suggest that Nigella's Ultimate Christmas Pudding (from NIGELLA CHRISTMAS) is made 6 weeks in advance and then stored in the pudding basin in a cool, dry place until Christmas Day. However, this is for a plastic, stoneware or china basin. If you have a basin with a lid and if you have wrapped the basin with food wrap for extra security while steaming, just remove the wrapping, leave the lid in place and replace with fresh wrapping. If you don't have a lid and have put baking parchment (parchment paper) on the top of the pudding and then put a more traditional parchment and foil cap on the basin then remove these and replace with fresh parchment and foil.
Metal basins don't change the cooking time, but we would prefer not to make the pudding in a metal basin as some metals, especially aluminium, can react with the dried fruits and leave an odd taste. If the basin is enamelled or has a non-stick coating then the pudding should be protected and can be stored in the basin, though you may prefer to remove the cooked pudding and return it to the basin for reheating. If you do this, put a circle of baking parchment on the base of the basin to make it easier to remove the pudding. Wrap the unmoulded pudding tightly in a double layer of food wrap and then put it in an airtight container or wrap it in a double layer of foil. Don't wrap the pudding directly in foil. You may prefer to freeze the pudding at this point but remember to remove it from the freezer on Christmas Eve so that it can thaw overnight. Christmas puddings are traditionally made on Stir-Up Sunday, which this year is Sunday, 21st November.