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Christmas Pudding

Christmas pudding is traditionally made on Stir-up Sunday, which is the 25th Sunday after Trinity, and is allowed to mature until Christmas. Properly made Christmas pudding should not be heavy or cloying and is a perfect culmination to the Christmas meal.

Christmas Pudding
225g (8oz) plain flour
1 tspn cinnamon
½ tspn grated nutmeg
½ tspn ground all spice (mixed spice)
100g (4oz) fresh breadcrumbs
550g (1¼lb) seedless raisins
350g (12oz) sultanas
350g (12oz) currants
150g (60z) candied peel, chopped finely
50g (2oz) blanched almonds, chopped
225g (8oz) soft dark brown sugar
225g (8oz) shredded suet
4 eggs
200ml (6 fl. oz) milk
100ml (4 fl. oz) brandy (or use milk in non-alcoholic version)
Pinch of salt

Begin the day before you plan to steam the pudding. Sift the flour, spices and salt into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the breadcrumbs, dried fruits, peel, almonds and sugar. Then add the suet and mix well. Beat together the egs, milk and brandy separately and then add to the main mixture and ensure that all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Usually at this time the family gathers around to stir the pudding and make a secret wish. The mixture should have a sloppy consistency and should be covered and left overnight.

When you are ready to steam the pudding, pack the mixture into a lightly greased basin and cover with a non-stick baking paper and then enclose the entire basin in foil and tie with string. Traditionally unbleached calico or muslin was used.

Place the pudding on a steam rack or upturned saucer in a saucepan of simmering water for 5 hours to steam. The water should come half way up the basin. Remember to top up the water in the saucepan as needed during the steaming process.

Once the cooking time is over allow the pudding to cool completely. When this is done remove the foil and the non-stick baking paper and replace with fresh ones. The pudding should then be stored in a cool dry place to mature until Christmas day.

To reheat the Christmas pudding, steam as before for about 3 hours. After removing the wrapping serve with rum or brandy butter. Traditionally the pudding is lit before serving. This is done by heating some brandy in a ladle and then setting it alight, the lit brandy is then carefully poured over the whole pudding.

Brandy Butter
175g (6oz) unsalted butter
175g (6oz) soft dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons of brandy

Beat the butter and sugar together until soft and creamy. Then gradually add the brandy to the mixture, ensuring the after each addition you beat the mixture well. This prevent the butter curdling.
Then place the mixture into a covered container and chill for at least an hour before serving. The Brandy Butter will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator, so it can be made well ahead of Christmas Day.


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