The festive season is fast approaching—yippee! Every year I religiously put the date of Stir-Up Sunday in my diary. This is the day in late November that Brits traditionally make their Christmas puddings. As far as I can work out, this is to ensure that there is plenty of time for the booze to infuse the traditional basinful of nutty fruitiness. I’m always too disorganised to get the suet, spices, sugar, sultanas, currants, raisins, almonds, candied peel, apples, oranges, lemons, rum, barley wine, stout, eggs and flour together in time. Stir-up Sunday has yet again passed me by. It’s not a disaster though. In my experience, the best bit about the Christmas pudding is the moment when the chef gets to parade into the dining room with the whole thing on fire. After the “oohs” and “ahs” have died down, almost everyone says, “None for me, thanks, I’m as full as a bull,” or “Sorry, I don’t like Christmas pudding, but thanks anyway.” I have lost count of the number of foil-wrapped chunks of pudding that have languished in my fridge well into the month of January.
If this is your experience too, I’d encourage you to try Corinne’s Yuletide treat for a change. It’s the same shape and roughly the same colour as a traditional Christmas pudding, but is much lighter and fluffier. You can tell your friends and family it’s a “cherry and walnut steamed pudding” if they are wary of the Christmas pudding prospect. It’s a bonus that you don’t have to make it weeks in advance—you can rustle it up on Christmas Eve and reheat it on the big day. That’s what I’m going to do this year, then I’m going to pop a bit of holly on top, pour a great big mug of hot brandy over it and set it alight!
Corinne Griffith was a big star in the 1920s and had a dozen film credits as a producer too. She travelled widely and loved to collect recipes, publishing some of her favourites in a brilliant cookbook with a fabulous title: Eggs I Have Known . This would make an ace Christmas present for one of your movie-loving friends if you can get your hands on one. As well as having lots of great recipes to try, the book is sprinkled with reminiscences from Corinne’s days in Hollywood. I love the blurb on the back: “Long fascinated by the joys of cooking, Miss Griffith was highly selective in choosing recipes for her book which, with little or no trouble at all, can make you the star of the show.”
If you make this Christmas pudding, you’ll be sprinkling a little Hollywood stardust over your own festive season and will indeed be the star of the show. Corinne’s friend Edna gave her this recipe, Edna’s surname was quite fittingly Bakewell. Corinne declared it to be the best Christmas pudding she’d ever eaten, and I concur. I don’t know who Edna was in the grand scheme of things, but I absolutely love her recipe! Merry Christmas to you all!
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup melted butter
- 1 cup cherry preserves
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup English walnuts
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 teaspoons sour cream
- ¾ cup flour
Mix eggs, melted butter, cherry preserves, sugar and walnuts. Add baking soda to sour cream and sour cream to the preserve mixture. Lastly add flour. Steam in double boiler about 3 hours, stirring 2 or 3 times. Serve with whipped cream.
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I Can’t Boil Water by Corinne Griffiths
Eggs I Have Known by Corinne Griffiths
Jenny Hammerton is a film archivist with a nosey parker interest in what the stars of Hollywood Golden era liked to eat and drink. She’s been scribbling away about film star recipes for around eight years at Silver Screen Suppers and her bulging collection of film star favorites now numbers over 5500. When not cooking and writing, Jenny works with the British Movietone newsreel collection for the AP Archive in London, and DJs on a wind-up gramophone with The Shellac Sisters. You can read about and buy her new book Cooking with Joan Crawford here.