As revealed in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1963), James Bond doesn’t seem to know much about the Christmas rituals. When he is met by Mary Goodnight at London Airport on Christmas Day, en route to M with the names of the ‘Angels of Death’ carrying the means to start biological warfare in the UK, courtesy of Ernst Stravos Blofeld, he asks Mary why she is not ‘stirring the plum pudding or going to church or something.’ She tells him that plum puddings are made at least two months before to let them settle and mature. In fact, as we learn later, she loathes plum pudding.
At Quarterdeck, M’s country home, Bond sits down to Christmas lunch and the plum pudding duly arrives ‘flaming traditionally.’ We are not told whether he likes it but he wistfully thinks of a ring for Tracy when M nearly breaks a tooth on some silver implanted in the pudding. It is only after this that they get down to business with the man from Ag. and Fish. to come up with a plan to prevent the imminent biological attack.
You have to admire their priorities. A good Christmas pudding is worth taking the time to enjoy. Here is a recipe.
- 300g dried fruit mix (raisins, currants)
- 50g mixed peel, chopped
- 50g glacé cherries, rinsed, chopped
- 1 apple, grated
- 1 carrot, grated
- Juice and zest of a lemon
- 120g plain flour
- 120g suet
- 120g dark brown sugar
- 75g breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs
- 100ml beer
- 50ml brandy
- 70 ml orange juice
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp salt
Combine the beer and brandy with the fruit and peel and soak at least overnight but longer if possible, up to a week. Place the mixture in a large bowl with the other ingredients and stir until thoroughly mixed. Pour the mixture into a buttered pudding basin and cover with some baking parchment cut to size and then tin foil.
Place the basin in a saucepan and pour boiling water into the saucepan until the water level is half-way up the pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 6 hours, topping up with water often, ensuring there is always sufficient water in the pan. Alternatively, place the pudding basin in a slow cooker, top up with boiling water, turn the cooker to high and cook for 8 hours.
Remove the basin from heat, replace the paper and foil with fresh sheets and store in a cool, dry place. When you wish to reheat the pudding, place the basin in a water-filled saucepan and simmer for about 2 hours. Once reheated, turn the pudding out and serve.