TV chef's Christmas pudding tips: GET THE RECIPE

IT'S often said Christmas puddings should be made several weeks before the big day.

So children from a school in Harewood spent time learning how to make the perfect Christmas pud – with a little help from Santa Claus and Yorkshire chef Richard Fox.

The children, from Harewood C of E Primary School, visited the Harewood Christmas Craft, Gifts and Food Fair to pick up some tips from Richard, who demonstrated the art of making Christmas pudding at the 'Make and Bake' cookery workshop.

The TV chef, who presents BBC's Fox on the Run, joined forces with The Year of Food and Farming to encourage families to get involved with festive food and re-create Stir Up Sunday, which was yesterday.

Historically, preparations for Christmas dinner would begin on this day – the last Sunday before Advent – with all the children in the household helping to mix the pudding and make a special wish.

The youngsters at the fair, held in the grounds of Harewood House, had the chance to mix the pudding and make a wish – and in a gesture of goodwill, Richard gave YEP readers his top tips on making the perfect Christmas pud.

He said: "My top three tips are: use really good quality ingredients, make it in plenty of time so all the flavours really mature together and use plenty of good quality booze.

"Visiting an event such as Harewood Christmas Craft Fair is just one way for children to get involved in cookery workshops and learn more about the Year."

The Year of Food and Farming, a campaign set up to promote healthy living by giving children direct experience of farming, food and the countryside, enlisted the help of several top chefs to promote Stir up Sunday.

Raymond Blanc, owner of the Brasserie Blanc restaurant in Leeds, donated his favourite Christmas pudding recipe to the campaign – available below.

Harrogate farmer Steve Willis, regional chairman of the Year of Food and Farming in Yorkshire and the Humber, said: "It's important that we give our children memorable, hands-on experiences with meals, to make them passionate about their food."

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RAYMOND BLANC'S CHRISTMAS PUDDING RECIPE

Serves (Yield): 2 Kg Difficulty rating: ???

Preparation time: 10 mins Cooking time: 3.5-5 hours

Special equipment: 2x1ltr or 1x2ltr pudding basin

Planning ahead:

The pudding(s) can be made 4-6 months in advance if kept in a cool dark place. 'Stir up Sunday' is the day Christmas puddings are made traditionally – this year it falls on 25th November.

Ingredients

250g of each, raisins, currants, sultanas, brown breadcrumbs and brown sugar

75g nibbed almonds (chopped)

1 Bramley apple, cored and finely chopped

1 lemon, zest and juice

1 orange, zest and juice

4 eggs med, organic , beaten

100g candied peel, chopped

50g flour wholemeal

1 tsp Chinese five spice powder

100ml Armagnac

250g vegetable suet

Method

Prepare your basin by greasing them well with extra butter, then lining the bottom with greaseproof paper.

In a large bowl mix all of the ingredients together thoroughly.

Fill the pudding basin to 1cm below the rim. Now cover with a circle of greaseproof paper followed by a larger piece of foil. Tie this around with a piece of string, but loosely so that there is room for the pudding to expand.

Steam the larger pudding i.e. 2Ltr for 5 hours, the smaller ones i.e. 1Ltr for 3 - 4 hours.

If you do not have a steamer, cook the pudding on a wire rack in a pan of boiling water.

Once cooled, remove the basin from the steamer and leave to cool. Remove the pudding from the basin, wrap well with clean greaseproof paper, and store in a cool place until needed.