Happy New Year*
Roll on 2011. I like the look of ‘2011’. A very nice collection of numbers nicely arranged. May it be a Year of Multifaceted Wonderfulness.**
I think we need a sticky celebratory pudding. A little late for tonight, but it’ll be excellent tomorrow too. If you’re not too the-day-after-the-night-before-ish for getting your eyes to focus on a recipe.
Spicy cranberry gingerbread pudding
The original recipe wants you to make eight individual puddings. You must be frelling joking. You’re already going to have to make the sauce as well as the pudding. Life is way too short to spend that much time buttering pudding basins, not to mention cleaning the suckers afterward, since in my experience putting them through the dishwasher is pretty futile. I don’t know, are there Miniature Pudding Basin Liners like there are paper muffin cups? The latter entirely revolutionised my baking half a million years ago when I discovered them, or someone started making them, which I think is what happened—some muffin-eating industrialist’s wife told him that paper muffin cup liners would not only mean he could have fresh muffins every day but that they would thereby be made wealthy***.
Anyway. In the absence of miniature pudding basin liners, you can make it in an 8” square pan, although a 6-cup Bundt is ideal because it looks pretty without being nearly so much work.†
1 ¾ c all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp (ground) ginger
¼ tsp allspice
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
2 medium/large eggs, room temp
5 T soft butter
¼ c blackstrap molasses
¼ c dark brown sugar. If you’re a wimp you can use white sugar
1 heaped teaspoon freshly grated ginger root
4 oz preserved ginger in syrup, finely chopped, with its syrup
about 1 c water
Sift the dry stuff together. Squash the butter and sugar together thoroughly, then add molasses, then eggs. Beat well. Then start adding flour alternately with water, and mixing each time, starting with flour: half the flour, then half the water, then half the flour . . . then stop. At this point add the two gingers (the ground went in with the spices in the dry), so you can judge how much water you’re going to need to make a good batter. I have found I need slightly less than the full 1c. Beat well again. If you are an electric-mixer person, use it. The batter should get very homogenous and very slightly paler.
Pour in your chosen WELL BUTTERED pan, and bake about half an hour at 350°F/moderate. It should look done like a cake looks done. Use a toothpick if you’re nervous. If it’s a Bundt, you’ll want to let it cool a bit and then turn it out; if it’s in a boring old brownie pan, you can just serve it from there.
Sweet Cranberry-Cider Sauce
1 lb cranberries
16 fluid oz British cider. Which is to say, alcoholic. If you can get British/hard cider, use whatever kind you like to drink, which is to say this is not the time to go cheap. If you can’t get hard cider, use about 1 ½ c ordinary cider and ½ c port, Madeira, sherry, or whatever of that kind of thing you have around. You ought to have something of this sort because it’s great for enlivening dull food. You could certainly use Calvados or some such but I think that’s getting on for apple overkill myself.
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp (ground) cloves
¼ tsp nutmeg
about ¼ c, somewhat depending on how dry your cider/etc is and how sweet you like your sauce, dark brown sugar
2 oz preserved ginger in syrup, finely chopped, with its syrup
Put the cider in a pan with everything else except the preserved ginger. Bring to boil, boil gently till cranberries pop. Take off the heat, add the ginger. Let cool. Reheat just to warm to serve. You can warm the pudding too. I generally don’t, but you don’t want it cold from the refrigerator.
It’s five minutes to midnight as I write this. Tick . . . tick . . . tick. . . . ††
* * *
* We had ringing practise tonight. How sad is that? New Year’s Eve and we’re all in the bell tower making horrible crashing noises.^ There were even enough of us tonight to make a wide variety of horrible crashing noises. But I think possibly some of us had got a head start on celebrating.^^
^ Niall did suggest that if anyone wanted to ring in the New Year it could probably be arranged . . . but not by him.
^^ Which is to say that my Cambridge was perhaps more accurate than some others of those present.
** In the immediate future however . . . I have had a long detailed email from a professional photo geek, who says in essence:
(a) Yes, the Canons are too slow.
(b) Yes, the Panasonics’ jpeg handling isn’t good enough.
At present my choices seem to be:
(a) Learn photo editing after all and shoot in RAW mode.
(b) Give up on the compact idea and go for a full DSLR.
(c) Learn to draw.
How’s progress on cloning coming? I need two of me, whatever I decide. I need hours for photo editing and I need hours to write more books to pay for my renovated, upgraded and expanded camera habit. Or I need hours with my sketchbook. Hours and hours and hours and HOURS AND HOURS. And possibly a gene-splice from JMW Turner or James Whistler or John Everett Millais or Edward Burne-Jones.
*** And she could hire someone to make muffins while she got on with writing her great novel. He probably wanted a bigger car or a string of polo ponies or a castle in Spain. Men.^
^ Although I’ve always wanted my castle in Scotland which is manifestly insane. Winter? Darkness? Rising damp? Cold? I think the top ten most uncomfortable places on earth must include at least one paradigmatic Scottish castle.
† Although they don’t go too effectively through the dishwasher either. Butter it really well.
†† And I’m listening to Handel’s MESSIAH. Well, it’s festive. They’ve got the last night of the Proms running on Radio Three and I cannot take the blurky self-congratulation. It’s stickier than the above pudding, which is not appropriate on the radio. Get a grip, guys.
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