I feel a right pudding, but not the pudding I want.
Me & my mates were in Manchester’s new city-centre Waitrose late last Sunday (attacking the 19p sandwiches with gustoafter “a few” drinks). Naturally, I went off combing the aisles for products bearing Heston Blumenthal’s name. Amazingly the Ale & Kombu pies had all sold out, but there was a stack of Heston’s Hidden Orange Christmas Puddings next to the till. This was a few days before a Daily a feature hyped them into absurd prices on eBay.
At the original £13.99 RRP they were still relatively expensive, especially since my family have never been big on Christmas pudding. Much as I wanted to try it I wasn’t sure I could finish all 1.2kg of it by myself. Well, they had plenty in stock. And hey, if I changed my mind I figured I couldjust pop back a few days before Christmas and pick one up and… oh….
Like any normal human, as soon as I couldn’t have one I wanted it even more. There was no way on earth I was paying the eBay prices, but I was determined to find an alternative just as good. The internet came up with Lidl’s pud, voted the best choice by consumer magazine “Which?”. And at £2.99 it seemed much more reasonable than £150 on eBay. More convenient too. Would you believe it’s a lot easier to come by a branch of Lidl than Waitrose in the North West?
We have our own pre-Christmas dinner (cooked our preferred way) before the family events get going, which is when we chose to eat our Lidl offering. It’s still possible add some of the Blumenthal touch, courtesy of Heston’s recipe for Cointreau butter
A good quality (or cheap and new) grater makes your zest life much easier. The orangey aroma from the oven is fantastic, but watch carefully in case it starts to catch. I somehow managed not to get any white pith in, but the zest still tasted incredibly bitter on its own.
As a Heston fan I fantasize about owning all sorts of random and expensive cooking gadgets: water-baths, magimixes etc. And, after fifteen minutes of whipping the butter for this recipe with my cheap-as-chips Argos hand mixer, a Kitchen Aid is now top of that list. My bloody arm! If you use the same equipment use a big bowl and wear an apron, or you’ll decorate the kitchen and yourself with flecks of whipped butter like I did.
With the mixer set to medium speed you won’t be able to hear a thing, so no chance of any telly / radio to keep you occupied as you stand over the bowl. There’s another kitchen gadget to covet: wireless headphones.
Like I said, our family never really went in for traditional Christmas puddings, but this was ok. Especially considering the price.
It’s the Cointreau butter that I wasn’t a huge fan of. Maybe its best served with the actual Hidden Orange Christmas Pudding, or perhaps it’s just not to my personal taste. The Cointreau gave it a pleasingly boozy orange kick, but I had trouble detecting the zest amongst the other flavours in the pudding. Whipped butter is just far too rich for my palette, I’d have preferred a huge dollop of cream instead. And as you can see, quenelles really aren’t a strength of mine.
Have you made Heston’s Cointreau butter, or did you even manage to get hold of his fabled Christmas Pudding? If not would you have paid £150 for one? And what’s your favourite Christmas Pudding recipe. Let us know in the comments section below.