Why pay hundreds of pounds on eBay when you can use this Heston Blumenthal Hidden Orange Christmas pudding recipe to make your own instead.
UPDATE: After the Lidl taste-test and this experiment it was obvious the Heston Christmas Pudding had become an “issue” for me, so in the end I did get one from eBay (two days before Christmas when the auction prices were cheap though).
Rich, dark and magnificently moist, the difference between the real thing and my attempts to recreate it couldn’t be greater. I can’t look back at the results of my experiment with anything other than painful embarrassment.
Still I’m proud of having had a go. But next time I try to reverse-engineer a recipe I might start by looking at the actual ingredients of what I’m trying to emulate first.
I might be bitter about missing out on Heston’s Hidden Orange Christmas Puddings from Waitrose, especially now they’re £500 on eBay, but I’m not yet obsessed enough to splurge that kind of money on Christmas dessert. Jay Rayner might think they’re worth the money, but put it into perspective: two of you could dine at Heston’s restaurant The Fat Duck for that kind of cash.
Instead, lets create our own version of the recipe, and enjoy some of that Heston magic in our own homes at a fraction of the cost.
At least we’re bound to make a better job of it than the Daily Mail’s Tessa Cunningham did.
First up, for convenience we’re going to be making individual puddings rather than one whole big one. This will simplify things because the filling is the key. Also, the whole orange takes 7 weeks to cure. With 11 days until Christmas a recipe that long won’t help anyone. Looking through Blumenthal’s other recipes for inspiration (and to maintain authenticity) throws up a few suggestions for some slightly quicker solutions for the orange centre.
Filling1: Hidden behind the Times’ paywall Heston admits the inspiration for his Christmas pudding was the Sussex Pond Pudding, a suet-based dessert that originally contained a whole lemon. Heston has a recipe for Sussex Pond Pudding that features on the menu at his pub in Bray The Hinds Head, with a liquid centre of lemon-syrup.
A Christmas Pudding with a liquid core could be the least accurate recreation. More a kind of Christmas orange-fondant pudding.
Filling 2: To preserve that Waitrose element our second version of the filling is based on Heston’s Lemon Tart recipe. This is probably the riskiest of the three since it contains a lot of eggs that are likely to scramble during the cooking process.
Filling 3: Our final test-filling is the simplest, and based around the fact that it’s a *candied* orange at the centre of the Waitrose version. If we take that to mean sugar and fruit, and remember that Jay Rayner’s report says you can carve the orange with a spoon, then just “Loads Of Marmalade” might make a reasonable substitute.
We’re not going to get far without a pudding recipe. There’s hundreds of variations of those, and since I don’t have the resources of the Fat Duck Research Kitchen we’ll just pick one from a decent pedigree. With a firm enough dough to line the moulds and a high suet content to prevent the filling from leaking out.
Michael Caines describes his recipe as being “so easy that my children make it”. Which means I should be able to make a reasonable job of it too.
Michael Caines Christmas pudding recipe is wonderfully simple. Just chuck load of store-cupboard ingredients in a bowl and keep hitting zero on the scales.
Heston’s recipes are usually long-winded, making two at once is a, ahem, challenge. I’ll be fuming if the easy-peasy marmalade method wins
Lining the bowls with the firm pudding mix is very easy. To cover them your best bet is to roll out your remaining mix between two sheets of clingfilm and stamp out lids in the same way that you’d make cookies. Careful, they’ll be very fragile. But if butterfingers here can do it you certainly can.
Here we are. From left to right: 1. Marmalade 2. Tart-filling 3. Sussex Pond filling. Steam them for about an hour.
1. Marmalade Pudding
I thought I was bitter about missing out on the real Heston pudding, but that’s nothing compared to the bitterness of this marmalade. At least the hard work wasn’t in vain, but if you’re a big marmalade fan and find a brand you like this would work pretty well. And you can carve it with a spoon.
2. Tart Pudding
Yep, scrambled. There’s a bit of debate on the Waitrose website about how long this needs on the stove to thicken. Skip that step and the results would probably be a lot better. But yikes its sweet! The tart features a plain shortcrust pastry case, but combined with all the sugar and fruit in the pudding your dentist definitely won’t approve. You should reduce the sugar content of the filling by ⅓ or even ½.
3. Sussex Pudding
If you thought the last one was too sweet then you won’t like this flood of liquid sugar syrup. Unfortunately mine slipped off it’s upturned plate, so half of the filling spilled into the cooking water. Should’ve made the effort to dig the steamer out. Like a fondant this is the most dramatic of the three, but I’d advise reducing the sugar content of the pudding. And brushing your teeth immediately after.
Depending on your preferences (and providing you have a very sweet tooth) any of these recipes is a reasonable alternative to shelling out silly money on eBay. The pudding recipe itself is incredibly easy, even if you aren’t filling it with orange sauce. Marmalade fans who know of a good, non-bitter variety will find their version even easier. Just make sure you serve it with lots of butter or pouring cream to counteract all that sugar.
As for me? I’m a huge fan of his, so it’ll be a Heston Blumenthal-themed Christmas dinner for me. But, so after this experiment and last week’s Lidl taste-test I’ve had my quota of Christmas Pudding, so it’ll be Heston’s trifle for me.
450g raisins, 450g currants, 450g sultanas, 225g white breadcrumbs, 225g self-raising flour, 60g mixed dried peel, 10g glace cherries, 150g demerera sugar, 1 tsp baking powder, 450g shredded beef suet, 1 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp mixed spice, 30g chopped pecans, 20g chopped almonds, 3 beaten eggs, 40ml cider, 40ml brandy, Juice of ½ an orange. A few drops of orange oil / essence. Cream (or whole milk), to bind. Butter, for greasing.
Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl, then add the mixed liquid ingredients. Add enough cream or milk to form a stiff mixture. Line buttered pudding moulds, leaving a cavity at the centre. Fill with orange centres, cover with lids stamped from rolled remaining filling. Top with parchment and securely cover with foil. Steam or boil on a upturned plate (do not allow water to cover pudding or boil dry) for one hour. Stand for a minute before turning out onto individual plates. Serve with lots or cream or butter.
Will you be having a go at this recipe, or have you got your Christmas pudding sorted? If you do give it a whirl please leave a comment and let us know how it went.