Christmas Pudding

I wish I had an old passed-down-through-the-generations recipe for Christmas Pudding, but I don’t. What I have instead – and which I value nearly as much – is this recipe from Nigel Slater. I’ve used it so many times over the years it now feels like Nigel has passed it down to me.

What really makes it stand out from pretty much every other Christmas Pudding I’ve ever tasted or heard of is this: people actually want to eat it. Even on Christmas Day. Even after having eaten quite a lot of other stuff.  Even the people who get in early at not wanting to cause offence by stating that they ‘just don’t like Christmas Pudding’ seem to manage to put away a bowl of this with gusto.

350g sultanas
350g any combination of sultanas, raisins or currants
150g dried figs, chopped
125g candied peel, chopped
100g dried apricots, chopped
75g dark glacé cherries, halved
180ml brandy (or sloe gin)
2 apples, with the cores removed
the juice and zest of 2 oranges
6 eggs
250g shredded suet
350g soft muscovado sugar
250g fresh breadcrumbs
175g self-raising flour
1 tsp mixed spice

Enough for 3 x 900ml basins and another small one. I work on a rolling programme of making at least one more pudding than is needed so that it can roll over to the following Christmas and have a full year to mature into a heavier, richer pudding.

1. Put the dried fruits, peel and cherries into a large bowl and pour over the sloe gin (or brandy). Don’t worry that the booze will seem to disappear almost immediately into the fruits. Cover with a tea-towel and leave overnight. The occasional stir if you’re up is a good idea.

2. Grate the apples into another large bowl and add the orange juice & zest, beaten eggs, suet, sugar, breadcrumbs and flour. Stir into all that the boozy fruit and spices.

The mixture is then ready to go into your prepared pudding basins. Steam the 900ml ones for three and a half hours.  Allow to cool; replace the greaseproof paper covers with fresh ones; and store your puddings somewhere cool and dry.

To reheat before eating steam for the same length of time, turn out, slug some brandy over and flame.

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