by Jackie Layton
Welcome to Day Three of The 12 Days of Cozies 2022!
Andi Grace Scott lives in Heyward Beach, South Carolina. The fictional community is located in the Low Country near Charleston. Her Christmas story hasn’t been written yet, so I decided to share my thoughts on an Agatha Christie Christmas story.
The Adventures of the Christmas Pudding is a novella featuring Hercule Poirot. He attends a Christmas celebration, intending to catch a jewel thief who stole an ancient family ruby. Members of the gathering know he’s a famous detective and decide to act out a murder as a Christmas gift for Poirot.
This is a lighthearted and fun story. Poirot is aided in setting a trap by an unlikely source. If you’re caught up in the busy holiday season and need an hour to enjoy a clever mystery, I’d like to suggest The Adventures of the Christmas Pudding.
In case you’re wondering, Christmas Pudding is also called figgy pudding or plum pudding. It’s an English dish dating back to the Middle Ages.
I’m including a recipe for Christmas Pudding, but I don’t believe it’s for the novice baker.
For the pudding
- 50g blanched almonds
- 2 large cooking apples
- 200g box candied peel (in large pieces) or all citron if you can find it
- 1 whole nutmeg
- 1kg raisins
- 140g flour
- 100g soft fresh white breadcrumbs
- 100g light muscovado sugar, crumbled
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tbsp brandy or cognac (Plus keep a little extra to light the pudding.)
- 250g packet butter straight from the fridge
To make the brandy and ginger butter
For the brandy and ginger butter
- 175g unsalted butter softened
- grated zest ½ orange
- 5 tbsp icing sugar
- 4 tbsp brandy or cognac
- 2 pieces of ginger stem, chopped finely
Now let’s bake.
- STEP 1
Get everything for the pudding prepared. Chop the almonds coarsely. Peel, core and chop the cooking apples. Chop the candied peel. (You can chop the almonds and apples in a food processor, but the peel must be done by hand.) Grate three quarters of the nutmeg.
- STEP 2
Mix the almonds, apples, candied peel, nutmeg, raisins, flour, breadcrumbs, light muscovado sugar, eggs and 2 tbsp brandy or cognac in a large bowl.
- STEP 3
Holding the butter in its wrapper, grate a quarter of it into the bowl, then stir everything together. Repeat until all the butter is grated, then stir for 3-4 mins – the mixture is ready when it subsides slightly after each stir. In the novella, each member of the party stirred the pudding and made a wish.
- STEP 4
Generously butter two 1.2 litre bowls and put a circle of baking parchment in the bottom of each. Pack in the pudding mixture. Cover with a double layer of baking parchment, pleating it to allow for expansion, then tie with string (keep the paper in place with a rubber band while tying). Trim off any excess paper.
- STEP 5
Now stand each bowl on a large sheet of foil and bring the edges up over the top, then put another sheet of foil over the top and bring it down underneath to make a double package (this makes the puddings watertight). Tie with more string, and make a handle for easy lifting in and out of the pan.
- STEP 6
Boil or oven steam the puddings for 8 hours, topping up with water as necessary. Remove from the pans and leave to cool overnight. When cold, discard the messy wrappings and re-wrap in new baking parchment, foil and string. Store in a cool, dry place until Christmas. (The cook in Agatha’s novella told Poirot the longer it sets, the better it tastes.)
- STEP 7
To make the brandy butter, cream the butter with the orange zest and icing sugar. Gradually beat in the brandy or cognac and chopped stem ginger. Put in a small bowl, fork the top attractively and put in the fridge to set. The butter will keep for a week in the fridge, or it can be frozen for up to six weeks.
- STEP 8
On Christmas Day, boil or oven steam for 1 hr. Unwrap and turn out. To flame, warm 3-4 tbsp brandy in a small pan, pour it over the pudding and set light to it.
You’ll often see pictures of Christmas pudding decorated with holly, but be careful. The berries are poisonous to people and pets, so use artificial holly.
ABOUT JACKIE LAYTON
I’m Jackie Layton, wife, mother, friend, pharmacist, and cozy mystery author.
I’ve been a reader as long as I can remember, and I’ve dreamed of writing for years. With encouragement from my husband and family, I pursued this dream.
I’ve always loved visiting the coast for vacations. The beach is my happy place despite cracking my ribs while riding the waves and getting a hook stuck in my foot that required a trip to the emergency room. When the doctor pushed the hook out of my foot, I learned a person really can see stars when in extreme pain. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop me from beach vacations and now I live on the coast.
My first cozy mystery Bite the Dust is set in the fictional coastal town of Heyward Beach, South Carolina. This is the first book in A Low Country Dog Walker Mystery Series.