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Christmas Pudding

Honestly my Christmas pudding recipe is pretty random, but it always seems to get a great response. The recipe is super flexible – at the end of the day, it's just a bunch of soaked, dried fruit and nuts with a basic pudding mix on top.

I usually end up scaling the recipe up two of three times and making a whole bunch of puddings, because it's great to give them away to friends and collegues. Plus the recipe changes every year – that's part of the fun! You maybe want to start this recipe about 6 months before Christmas day to give the pudding time to mature and develop some complex flavours.

Attributes

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Prep time: 30 minutes, and a week of soaking.
  • Cooking time: 5 hours in advance, 3 hours on the day.

Equipment

  • Large 1.7 litre pudding basin with a lid
  • Aluminium foil

Ingredients

The fruit mixture

  • 500g of various dried fruits and nuts. I usually use a mixture of:

    • Currants
    • Sultanas
    • Prunes
    • Cranberries
    • Blueberries
    • Mixed chopped peel
    • Glacé cherries
    • Blanched almonds
    • Pecans
    • Blanched hazelnuts
  • 1 litre of soaking liquid. I tend to use a mixture of:

    • Cheap brandy
    • 300ml can Irn-Bru
    • Buckfast
    • Pedro Ximenez sherry
    • Port

And the rest

  • 100g plain flour
  • 125g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 150g suet (vegetarian if needed)
  • 150g dark brown muscovado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 medium apple, grated

Method

  1. First, soak the fruits and nuts. Place everything into a large bowl, cover with the liquid, and stir thoroughly. Cover and leave in a dark, cool place for about a week, topping up with liquid if needed.

  2. After the fruit has soaked enough, it's time to cook the pudding. Start a pot of water boiling, large enough to hold the pudding basin you're using, and make sure the pudding basin is throughly greased with a bit of butter.

  3. Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, including the steeped fruit – making sure you get all of the liquid in the mix. Mix thoroughly, then press the mixture down into the prepared pudding basin. Wrap the top with a greased sheet of foil, then place the lid tighly on top.

  4. Place the pudding in the pan and steam for 5 hours. The water should be about halfway up the side of the basin; make sure to check it frequently to avoid it boiling dry (I once ruined a pudding by not doing this, so be careful!).

  5. After steaming, remove from the pan, set aside to cool, then remove the foil and store the basin out of the way until Christmas.

  6. On the day itself, wrap the pudding in foil again and steam for another three hours.

  7. To serve, remove fromt he pan, remove the lid and unwrap, then placve a plate on top, turn the basin upside down and give it a little squeeze.

  8. You can decorate this in different ways. I like to stick a bit of holly on top, or you can gently caramelise some half-slices of orange and arrange artfully around the base.

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