This is a sponsored post.
One of the topics we come back to time and time again with the kids is that of energy – what it is, how it’s generated, how it’s transported and stored, and the environmental issues around energy generation and use. We’ve been finding out about the relationship between mass and energy (and time and gravity) which can be a bit of a brain-ache, so it’s good to get back to slightly less mind boggling things such as thinking about ways to reduce our domestic electricity consumption. The boys have been also been looking recently into consumption at Christmas – of food, of ‘stuff’ like products and packaging, and of energy, so when Microwaves in the UK by Panasonic asked me to be involved in a sponsored post to celebrate their very swish new range of steam microwave combination ovens, the boys and I decided that looking at ways of reducing the energy burden of a typical Christmas dinner seemed like a great project.
We started by listing the typical things that a Christmas dinner might contain and the cooking times for these compared to a normal meal at any other time of the year. The only item of food that really stood out as something which had a hugely long cooking time was the Christmas Pudding.
One recipe that I found here recommended steaming the freshly-made pudding for up to eight hours, then storing it for weeks, and when Christmas came around reheating it by steaming for a further two hours. In total ten hours of cooking – and that didn’t include the human energy cost of making the thing which involved overnight soaking of ingredients beforehand and feeding the pud with brandy after the initial cooking! In the words of a YouTube star ‘Ain’t no-one got time for that!’ and it’s certainly not winning any points for energy efficiency (although if effort in equals quality of pudding it must taste sublime). Even reheating a supermarket pud is a solid two hours on the hob, so the Christmas pudding was the obvious candidate for an energy-saving make-over.
We researched some recipes online, eventually trying the one found here. It was good, but not quite as dark and rich as I was looking for to replace a traditional pudding, so we played around with the recipe and I came up with the tweaked one below. Prep time was perhaps 15 minutes with the kids taking on different jobs, for example Toby making breadcrumbs and Ollie weighing out ingredients. Cooking time was 9 minutes, plus a further 23 minutes in total resting time. The biggest surprise to me was how well it kept. My experience of heating up supermarket puddings in the microwave is that anything left to cool hardens to an inedible rock, but these homemade puddings were still moist and delicious at least two days later (and probably would be after a longer time but they got eaten up). It was an ideal recipe to make with children as there was plenty of measuring , stirring and tasting to keep them busy, and they could carry out every part of the bake except removing the cooked pudding from the microwave and tipping it out.
This was a really successful experiment in energy saving – we’ll definitely not be buying supermarket puddings and steaming them on the hob in the future as this microwave recipe is so quick and efficient, and best of all is really delicious.
50g fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs (approximately one slice of bread freshly torn up by a small child, or blitzed in a food processor)
75g plain flour
1 teaspoon mixed spice
100g molasses or soft brown sugar
200g mixed fruit (as in the raisins/candied peel mix, not just random fresh fruit)
50g glace cherries cut into halves
1 medium eating apple, peeled and grated
Grated zest and juice of a large orange (around 80 to 100ml juice)
3 tablespoons brandy, or 1 teaspoon brandy flavouring
2 medium eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons black treacle
1 dessertspoon golden syrup
Optional 2 teaspoons cocoa powder – adds a depth and darkness, but leave out if you prefer a straight up traditional flavour to your pudding
Mix everything together well in a large basin, except the golden syrup. Dollop a dessertspoon of golden syrup in the bottom a small microwave safe 2 pint (1kg) pudding basin – this is just to help the pudding unmould when you tip it out after cooking (see note 1 below).We found that without this the pudding tore.
Pour the mixture into the 2 pint basin. Cover with cling film (without the film touching the mixture) and pierce the film several times to allow steam to escape.
Microwave on medium for 6 minutes, then allow to rest for 3 minutes. Microwave again for a further 5 minutes. Now rest for 20 minutes.
Finally unmould by removing the cling film, running a knife around the bowl to loosen the pudding, putting a plate on top of the bowl and then tipping the lot over – the pudding should drop right onto the plate. Be careful while doing this stage as the pudding will stay hot for a long time.
Serve as how you like it – with custard, brandy cream or anything else that you enjoy eating pudding with. Slices of cold pudding served the next day make a satisfying rib-sticker of an afternoon tea (2).
I’d love to hear what your favourite microwave recipes are, or your tips for cutting down on energy and waste over the festive period!
1 The original recipe said to line the basin with cling film, but this was contrary to the instructions on our biodegradable cling film, so we didn’t use it in the basin. Regular cling film might be ok to line the basin with, but just adding a little golden syrup makes it unnecessary anyway.
2 If you’re not used to eating rich fruit puddings, go easy on the portion size unless you enjoy the digestive disruption caused by large quantities of dried fruit. Also, this pudding is very high in sugar, so one to avoid if you’re diabetic .
This recipe is easy to adapt for different dietary requirements – a GF slice of bread and GF flour substitutes in well as the cake is dense anyway. Substitute butter for dairy free spread or vegetable oil if DF or vegan. Eggs can be substituted with chia seeds and water – 1 tablespoon of chia seeds and half a cup of water per egg. I’ve read you can use flax seeds in this way too but haven’t tried it. The milk can be substituted with dairy free milk or really any liquid like some extra orange juice.
This post was sponsored by Panasonic, but all images, opinions and recipes adaptations are my own.