Classic Christmas Pudding

Yes, it’s vegetarian. For years I’ve made this, as have others in my family. It’s a rich, raisiny, butter-filled steamed pudding that does equally well with hard sauce after Christmas dinner or custard the next morning.

It’s also a cinch to make — if you live somewhere where sultanas, mixed peel, blanched almonds and mixed spice are in every corner store. With the labor of making a simple Christmas pudding suddenly threefold — I’ve been making mixed peel and hunting far and wide for plump, soft sultanas — I’ve finally tweaked the recipe.

8 oz raisins
8 oz golden raisins (sultanas)
8 oz currants
8 oz blanched, chopped (or sliced) almonds
8 oz brown sugar
8 oz unsalted butter
4 oz mixed peel
5 eggs
5 oz brandy
4 oz plain flour
5 oz breadcrumbs (about 9 slices bread, toasted and crumbed)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 tsp mixed spice

Soak fruit and almonds overnight in brandy.

Cream butter and sugar, then add beaten eggs. Stir in fruit, sifted flour, breadcrumbs, baking soda and mixed spice.

Put mixture in greased bowls, cover with brown paper and tie string around the sides of the bowl to secure the paper. Trim edges of paper under string.

Steam 4 hours on a simmer with water coming halfway up the sides of the bowl.

Pudding can be cooled, stored in the refrigerator and reheated — steam again for 2 hours before serving or microwave gently, one slice at a time.

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