This is my grandmother's recipe for a traditional English-style Christmas pudding. It's very rich, but despite this we all insist on having it after Christmas turkey on a boiling hot Australian Christmas day!
2 Granny Smith apples, grated
250g each of sultanas, raisins and currants, roughly chopped
125g mixed peel
125g blanched almonds
150ml brandy or rum
250g butter or suet
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup self raising flour
250g raw sugar
1 teaspoon each of vanilla, almond and lemon essence
5 cups soft breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon allspice
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Put all the fruit and almonds in a large bowl and pour over brandy or rum.
Mix well and leave to soak for several days, adding a little more brandy or rum if desired. Keep refrigerated.
If using suet, freeze suet until very cold and hard then grate it. Sprinkle grated suet with flour as you go to stop it sticking together. If suet softens, put it back in the freezer. Then chop suet until very fine.
Cream butter or suet and add sugar, eggs and essences. Mix and then add soaked fruit.
Combine dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture. (It's traditional to get everyone in the household to stir the pudding. This is supposed to be good luck.)
Place mixture in a well greased heat-proof basin, cover top with greased paper and tie securely with string. OR to be really traditional, steam in a pudding cloth, see notes below.
Partially fill a large saucepan with boiling water. Place saucepan on the stove at a temperature high enough to keep it boiling at a steady pace.
Place bowl in saucepan (or suspend pudding in cloth over saucepan). Water should reach about 2/3 of the way up the pudding. Steam for about 6 hours, adding boiling water as needed to make sure it doesn't boil dry.
Leave the pudding somewhere cool and dry to mature (a couple of months in a cold climate, a week or two in a hot climate).
Before serving, reboil the pudding and let stand out of the water for about half an hour before taking out of cloth or bowl. This will prevent it from crumbling.
Serve with your choice of sweet white sauce, brandy butter, custard and or ice cream!
To steam in a pudding cloth:
Use two layers of muslin, 50x50cm. Boil the cloth first, then flour it heavily on the inside only.
Place floured cloth in a bowl and fill with mixture (to give a good shape). Gather up cloth leaving about 3cm to allow mixture to expand. Tie the top with string and tie a loop in the string.
When ready to cook, suspend pudding in the boiling water by threading the loop through a heatproof spoon large enough to span the top of the saucepan.