No Victorian-style holiday season is complete without a Christmas pudding gracing the table. The classic steamed dessert, a kind of cake-pudding hybrid, is stuffed with suet and dried fruit. For the most dramatic Dickensian effect, insertions of rum enable at-table flambeing. The traditional method for making Christmas pudding can take up to 6 hours, depending on the size of the pudding. To shave off some time and ensure the moistest possible dessert, use a pressure cooker instead of the usual steaming method.
Things You'll Need
Pudding basin or bowl (glass, ceramic, stainless steel or silicon)
Steaming rack or basket
Mix your dry and wet ingredients together; then fold in the dried fruits. Pour the mixture into the pudding basin or bowl, and weigh the pudding on the kitchen scale.
Cover the bowl with aluminum foil that you've greased on the interior side. To make a lifting handle, use additional aluminum foil that is long enough to fit over the bottom and sides of the bowl, plus 8 to 10 additional inches. Fold this piece into thirds lengthwise and slide it under the bowl and up and over the sides.
Pour the amount of water needed for your pudding into the pressure cooker. For example, unless your recipe says otherwise, a large 3-pound Christmas pudding requires 7 cups of water, while a small 6-ounce pudding takes about 3 cups.
Place a steamer basket or rack into the pressure cooker; then lower the pudding bowl over the rack or into the basket. Secure the cooker lid according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Set the vent to Open, or the manufacturer's setting for steam-only, no-pressure cooking. Put the cooker on a burner and turn the stove burner to High.
Steam the pudding for the amount of time appropriate for its size -- you will be steaming it first, then cooking at low pressure. A small Christmas pudding needs only about 10 minutes of the initial steam stage, while a larger one requires approximately 30 minutes for the steam stage, depending on its exact size.
Move the vent to High pressure, or put the pressure gauge on weighted for High pressure. Reduce the pressure to Low once the pressure cooker begins to rock. This will initiate the second phase of the Christmas pudding process: cooking under pressure.
Cook the Christmas pudding at low pressure for the amount of time appropriate to its size. A small pudding needs about 50 minutes, while a large one can take more than 2.5 hours.
Remove the pressure cooker from the heat and leave it to release pressure on its own.
Open the lid after about 30 minutes. Use the aluminum foil handle you've created to remove the bowl from the pressure cooker and leave to cool.
Store the pudding in an airtight tin or wrap it in new aluminum foil.
To finish a Christmas pudding, some cooks frost the cooked dessert with white icing. More traditional are toppings that are spooned over the sliced cake. These can include rum sauce, lemon sauce or even freshly whipped cream.
If you cook two medium or small Christmas puddings at a time, make sure to determine the total combined amount of weight of the desserts.
If your scale doesn't take the mixing bowl's weight into account, weigh your pudding bowl first, so that you will later be able to determine how much the pudding by itself weighs.
Wear long-sleeved clothing and use oven mitts when working with pressure cookers. Make sure to keep exposed skin away from the steam vent.