puddings

UNSOLICITED ADVICE

ON THE TWENTY-THIRD DAY OF CRANKVENT... FORGET THE CHRISTMAS PUD, GET SOME CHRISTMAS CLAFOUTIS

In the southern hemisphere there is a happy correlation between the festive season and cherry season. Why, then, isn't cherry clafoutis our national Christmas dish? Get on it, people!

Here are two recipes: the first is more traditional, the second a little more fail-proof (it contains a rising agent so you run less risk of a rubbery pudding). Not pitting the cherries means you have to be a bit more careful eating the finished dessert, but they become fabulously plump on cooking and the pips also impart a flavour of their own to the dish.

Jeff's Clafoutis (baked cherry custard)

  • 750g ripe black cherries, not pitted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 c (125g) sugar
  • 75g melted butter
  • 2/3 c (75g) plain flour
  • 1 c (250ml) milk
  • vanilla sugar

Preheat oven to 200C. Wash, dry and stem cherries.

Butter an ovenproof china or glazed earthenware mould large enough to hold the cherries in a single layer. Place the cherries inside.

Combine the eggs and yolk in a bowl, add the sugar and whisk until the mixture is pale in colour. Then whisk in the butter.

Sift in the flour and mix well, then mix in the milk. Continue beating until batter is smooth; pour over cherries.

Bake for 40 minutes or until browned. Remove from oven and sprinkle with vanilla sugar. Serve lukewarm, from the baking dish. Serves 6.

Sarah's clafoutis

  • 8 large ripe apricots or similar fruit (plums, cherries)
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 60g plain flour
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 120ml milk
  • 180ml thickened cream
  • icing sugar, for dusting
  • pouring or clotted cream, to serve

Preheat oven to fan-forced 220C (240C conventional). Place caster sugar, flour, almonds and baking powder in a food processor and whiz until combined. (You can mix by hand if you don't have a food processor)

Whisk eggs, milk and cream in a bowl, then add egg mixture to the food processor and whiz until well combined. (See previous note vis-a-vis food processors)

Pour mixture around fruit and bake for 25-35 minutes or until golden and cooked. Dust with icing sugar and serve with cream. Serves 6-8.

(From Sunday Life magazine)

We're not claiming that cherry clafoutis can cure all diseases of the throat and lungs like Ayer's Cherry Pectoral could but it's still pretty good for what ails you (unless what ails you is dairy intolerance). Advertising postcard published by Dr J C Ayer & Co. c1870s. Wellcome Library, London, image no. L0041339.

We're not claiming that cherry clafoutis can cure all diseases of the throat and lungs like Ayer's Cherry Pectoral could but it's still pretty good for what ails you (unless what ails you is dairy intolerance). Advertising postcard published by Dr J C Ayer & Co. c1870s. Wellcome Library, London, image no. L0041339.

CRAZY TALK

ON THE SEVENTEENTH DAY OF CRANKVENT... TOXIC NOG

A tall glass of egg nog? Don't mind if I do! A mince pie or three? Yes please! Some Christmas pud? Oh boy!

Mm-mmm, Christmas foods and their wonderful spices. Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, more nutmeg, yes sprinkle a bit more on, go on... wait a minute. Nutmeg - the same spice that can induce nausea, dizziness, hallucinations, and a general slow-down of brain functions? Are you trying to poison me?!

OK so you'd have to take about two tablespoons of the stuff for it to have a noticeable effect, but I'm keeping an eye on you, nog-peddler... 

Not even nomming your nog from a cup carved of rhino horn will protect you from dangerous, delicious nutmeg! Mainly because the whole anti-poison rhino horn thing is a big fat fib, you idiots. Leave the rhinos alone!  Cup of Rhinoceros Horn - antidote to poisons, and for fevers and leprosy . Image number L0005085, Wellcome Library, London.

Not even nomming your nog from a cup carved of rhino horn will protect you from dangerous, delicious nutmeg! Mainly because the whole anti-poison rhino horn thing is a big fat fib, you idiots. Leave the rhinos alone! Cup of Rhinoceros Horn - antidote to poisons, and for fevers and leprosy. Image number L0005085, Wellcome Library, London.

REPROACH

ON THE TWELFTH DAY OF CRANKVENT... STEP AWAY FROM THE BUNNY

The problem starts at Easter. It’s tempting, we know: there’s a mountain of aphrodisiac (chocolate) shaped into potent fertility symbols (eggs) and prodigiously reproducing animals (bunnies). Plus the truly devout have just spent a month abstaining… so it’s easy to fall into the sticky, chocolaty, heteronormative arms of another and, well, make babies.

But these poor Easter foetuses are cursed, CURSED we tell you, by a pitiable, life-staining fate: a birthday at Christmastime. Before you unite your Good Friday gametes, put yourself in the shoes of your future child.

First, your name will reflect your shame. You will be dubbed Christopher or Christine after the little baby Jeebus (who, scholars tell us, was actually born in September). Or maybe Nicholas, or Rudolph, or Frosty. Or perhaps your mother will nickname you ‘Pud’ because you’re her little Christmas pudding; and, because we all grow into our names, you will be a plump, overcooked child with an unnatural attachment to baked goods.

Next come the primary school years. You will dutifully attend your peers’ happy, thronging birthday parties all the year through. But when yours rolls around, they’re all holidaying in Bali, or Byron Bay, or the Barwon Heads caravan park. No party. No reciprocal presents. No fair.

The presents, when they come, IF they have not been subsumed into some sort of abominable ‘combined Christmas-birthday’ chimera, will be wrapped in Christmas paper. They might even be under a Christmas tree. But don’t bother opening them: all the good toys were sold out, and you're left with the obscure Star Wars characters like Snaggletooth, who admittedly will be worth a lot in 30 or so years but that doesn't really help you now. 

When you grow up, your colleagues will not wish you many happy returns. No, their pity is all you get: 'You poor thing! Must suck having a birthday so close to Christmas.' Then, because they’re too stuffed with mince pies and Lindt reindeers that we all know are repackaged rabbits, they won’t eat any of the birthday cake that you’re still required to bring in under Australian workplace law. That’s if they haven’t already pissed off to Barwon Heads. 

Don’t think you can have any fun outside work either, because your nearest and dearest already have 36,573 Christmas parties to go to. They won’t come. But it’s alright, because you wouldn’t be able to go out anywhere anyway since everything’s either booked out or closed. Which leaves you at home alone, with nothing on telly except Home Alone.

And it will be stinking hot. 

SO STOP THERE, you fornicating Easter bunny. Be tempted not by those hot buns, leave those Easter eggs unfertilised, and stop this cruelty in its tracks: simply do not procreate in the third month of the year.

And spare some Xmas cheer for the unfortunate extant Chrises and Puds who never asked to be born in late December. Discard your foam antlers, divest yourself of tinsel, decline an RSVP and just wish them a plain old secular happy birthday.

CHRIS @astrocave and PUD @cakehelmit

The sell-out one-man two-hour monologue  Alone  starred George Rignold as Colonel Challice, a bitter, unhappy Colonel called Challice whose friends always pissed off to Barwon Heads at Christmas and missed his birthday party. The controversial ending involved the Colonel smearing birthday cake all over his body and hurling handfuls of Christmas pudding at the audience.  George Rignold as Colonel Challice in 'Alone' , chalk lithograph by Richard Wendel, printed by Troedel & Co. lithographers, 1878. State Library of Victoria, H2000.180/77 

The sell-out one-man two-hour monologue Alone starred George Rignold as Colonel Challice, a bitter, unhappy Colonel called Challice whose friends always pissed off to Barwon Heads at Christmas and missed his birthday party. The controversial ending involved the Colonel smearing birthday cake all over his body and hurling handfuls of Christmas pudding at the audience. George Rignold as Colonel Challice in 'Alone', chalk lithograph by Richard Wendel, printed by Troedel & Co. lithographers, 1878. State Library of Victoria, H2000.180/77 

WHINGE

ON THE FOURTH DAY OF CRANKVENT...WHERE IS MY THRUPPENCE-WORTH OF SILVER?!

The umpteenth day of advent already? Bugger, that means it too late to make the Christmas pudding. The inebriation of the fruit has to start early in November, with its ritual invert-the-jar twice a day for many weeks. So, there will be no homemade Christmas pud this year—well, not one made by us. But even worse, there’ll be no mid-winter pud either. We always make an extra one but often end up with two as the official pud escapes its fate due to a surfeit of family-made puddings. Some puddings have hibernated in the fridge for two to three years. Mind you, we became a little more careful after we discovered one pudding had almost escaped by corroding the base of its aluminium bowl.

And thinking about metal poisoning reminds me of the greatest disaster to befall Christmas puddings—decimal currency. Its advent was a dark day for Christmas pudding lovers, especially money-acquisitive small children. Those wonderful silver threepences were no more, and their cupro-nickel replacements were gleefully denounced as 'do not cook' by the spoil-sports. [1] No more the thrill of looking at the side of the pudding to see where a threepence might have been inserted, a prudent move if you didn’t want to swallow the hoped-for prize.

Hey, wait a minute! It was 'do not cook', not 'do not poke it into the side just before serving'. I’ve been dudded!

SERENDIPITY, WARRNAMBOOL

  1. The new two and five-cent pieces could turn green on cooking and their larger size was thought to be a choking hazard: "The throats and stomachs of small children may not be large enough to accept the five cent coins."
Scientific demonstration of the effects of Christmas pudding on the new decimal coins , 1966, from the  National Archives of Australia . It is a sad state of affairs when we can no longer describe items as being "ex-pudding".

Scientific demonstration of the effects of Christmas pudding on the new decimal coins, 1966, from the National Archives of Australia. It is a sad state of affairs when we can no longer describe items as being "ex-pudding".