MasterChef: The professionals Yasmine Selwood’s perfect Christmas pud

Here’s an exclusive BirminghamWorld recipe for the sweetest Christmas celebrations

<p>Chef Yasmine Selwood </p>

Chef Yasmine Selwood

When it comes to a Christmas pudding, nothing beats the traditional pud! Or does it?

As Masterchef: The Professionals 2021 Quarter Finalist Yasmine Selwood details in her exclusive recipe for BirminghamWorld, a Caribbean twist can take things to a whole new level of indulgence.

Born in West Bromwich, raised in Hill Top and now living in Wednesbury, Yasmine grew up with a love of food.

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“I’m super super Black Country!” she laughs. “Both my parents cooked and my dad experimented and showed me different things. By 10 I could cook a full roast dinner. So I’ve always had this underlying passion for food, and after my children went off to school, I got myself into culinary college.”

Alongside studies at University College Birmingham (UCB), Yasmine spent a year at the Michelin-starred Adams, in Waterloo Street, and then at the canalside Craft, in the city’s International Convention Centre. And it was while at Craft she made it onto BBC One’s top rated Masterchef: The Professionals 2021.

“It was amazing, absolutely amazing,” she says of her Masterchef experience. “I really pushed the boundaries of what I knew I could do. It was a once in a lifetime experience. The judges were very supportive. Everyone expects them to be mean, but they were wonderful supportive people, who’ve achieved so much – it was an honour to have them taste my food.”

Chef Yasmine Selwood

Since leaving Craft and graduating from UCB’s FDA Professional Chef course, Yasmine is now studying for a Culinary Arts Management degree while working as a personal chef – creating bespoke menus for dinner parties and events, as well as doing deliveries and baking lush cakes to order.

“I’m a one person band,” she says. “You get to do everything yourself and be up close and personal with diners. It allows you to let your personality shine.”

Discussing her particular approach to food, she adds: “Each individual chef has a special style. For me it’s a marriage of both my cultures – my traditional English cooking with traditional Caribbean cooking. That’s what I bring to the plate – which is much like me.”

In creating the very best Christmas Day pudding, she opted for an amazing Black Cake.

“It’s very very Caribbean,” she says. “It’s a centuries old adaptation of the traditional Christmas pudding but with a Caribbean twist – which is the rum. It’s a staple every year at Christmas, but also special occasions like weddings.

“A lot of people like to eat it plain, but I like to eat it with rum custard – you can’t have too much booze!” she laughs. “My mum always says the cake will finish you off for the day, so you shouldn’t have too much too early.”

As for alternatives, Yasmine says: “We always have a cheese cake as well. It’s something a bit lighter, but full of diary, with a layer of caramel on top – if Christmas isn’t about indulgence, what is it about?”

Yasmine Selwood’s Black Cake

Yasmine Selwood’s Christmas Black Cake

250g prunes,

200g self-raising flour,

250g currants,

50g ground almond,

75g raisins,

1tsp baking powder,

100g glace red cherries,

1tsp nutmeg,

20g candied ginger,

1tsp mixed spice,

50g candied citrus peel (plus extra for garnish),

1tsp cinnamon,

100ml boiling water,

250ml cherry brandy,

1tsp ginger powder,

250ml Appleton Dark Rum,

250g caster sugar,

50ml port wine,

4 medium eggs,

1tbsp Angostura Bitters,

1 whole vanilla pod,

250g demerara sugar,

2tsp almond essence

Method

“Soak the fruit in the alcohol for at least 24hrs before needed. You can soak the fruit up to 3-4 months in advance, but 24hrs before will get the job done.

“Preheat your oven to 150 degrees (Gas Mark 2) and line a 23cm diameter cake tin with baking parchment. Set aside until needed.

“Heat the 250g demerara sugar in a pan until melted into a caramel. It should be quite dark in colour. Take off the heat and add the boiling water. Mix until a syrup forms. Set this aside as you will need it at a later stage.

“Drain the fruit and add to a blender, pulse to make a thickened paste adding the alcohols as needed to blend. You may not need to add all of the liquid as you want a paste from the blitz fruit and you will still want a little texture from the fruit.

“Meanwhile, cream the sugar and butter together in a bowl or mixer, until very light in colour and fluffy in texture combine the essences and add the eggs one at a time.

“Once well combined fold in the dry ingredients carefully, and once fully combined add the fruit and caramel mixtures. Pour the cake batter into the lined tin and bake in the oven for three hours, or until a cocktail stick comes out clean. Place onto a cooling rack for around 15-20 mins.

“Brush with cherry brandy and allow to soak in. Garnish with the cherries you put aside.

“You can be as creative as you like with decorating a Jamaican Black Cake. It can also be stored for up to three months in an airtight container, this also means it can be made well in advance of the big day -  brush with rum regularly to keep from drying out and enjoy!”

For more information on Yasmine, and to book her for your dinner party or event, see: www.chefyasminecelieneltd.com

Or find her on social media: Instagram: @chef_yasmineceliene Twitter: @yasmine_selwood

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