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Christmas pudding

Christmas pudding

This really is a figgy pudding as it includes dried figs, as well as all the usual dried fruit. The fig seeds bring a hint of a crunch to the finished pudding, which makes for a first-rate texture. Make and steam it at least a month in advance, so that it has time to mature.

Ingredients

The dry ingredients
The wet ingredients
  • 1 orange, zest and juice

  • 1 lemon, zest and juice

  • 1 eating apple, cored and grated

  • 3 free-range eggs, lightly beaten

  • 150ml/5fl oz stout or similar dark beer

  • 150ml/5fl oz milk

  • 4 tbsp brandy

  • butter, for greasing pudding bowls

Preparation method

  1. Place all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix together thoroughly.

  2. Add the wet ingredients and mix together well with your hands (a spoon doesn't do the job half as well).

  3. Divide the mixture between two greased 1½ litre/2½ pint heatproof pudding bowls, filling almost to the rim, then smooth down the surface.

  4. Cover each bowl with a large square of greaseproof paper, then cover that with a large square of aluminium foil. Tie the two sheets tightly into place under the rim with string, leaving long ends of excess string to make a handle. Loop one of the excess string lengths over the pudding basin and slide underneath the taut string holding the sheets in place on the other side. Bring up the string and firmly knot with the other piece of excess string, to form a secure handle to lift the pudding in and out of the water.

  5. Leave the puddings somewhere cool overnight before cooking.

  6. To cook, stand both puddings on a trivet in a large, deep, heavy-based pan (or each pudding in a separate pan). Pour boiling water into the pan(s), enough to come about halfway up the sides of the bowls.

  7. Cover the pan(s) with a lid or a dome of foil and boil for seven hours. Check the water level regularly, topping it up with more boiling water as necessary to keep the bowls half submerged.

  8. After seven hours, remove the bowls from the pan and leave to cool. Untie and remove the foil and greaseproof sheets and replace with clean, dry sheets of both greaseproof paper and foil.

  9. Store in a cool, dry place (or freeze if you prefer, though they will keep perfectly well for a year or more unfrozen). To reheat at Christmas-time, return to a pan containing a few inches of boiling water, cover and steam for two hours, checking the water levels now and then, until completely heated through.

Overnight preparation time

Over 2 hours cooking time

Serves 8

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