Christmas pudding, stuck with a piece of holly, flaming with brandy or rum, served with a rich custard or rum butter, is one of the highlights of Christmas. You can begin this recipe months ahead – the longer you leave it, the longer the flavours have to mature.
- 250 g raisins
- 60 g mixed peel
- 250 g sultanas
- 250 g currants
- 125 g chopped blanched almonds
- ¼ cup rum or brandy, plus extra, for flaming
- 250 g unsalted butter
- 1¼ cups light brown sugar
- 1 orange, zest grated
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 125 g soft white breadcrumbs
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soaking time overnight
Sprinkle all the fruits and the almonds with the brandy or rum into a large bowl, cover and leave overnight.
Cream the butter until soft, add the sugar and orange zest and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift the flour and spices into a bowl and then fold into the sugar and butter mixture. Stir in the breadcrumbs and the marinated fruit and almonds until well combined.
Place the mixture into a well-greased pudding basin lined with a circle of greased baking paper cut to fit the base. Cover with another circle of greased baking paper to fit the top of the pudding basin. Cover the pudding with a large sheet of baking paper with a pleat in the centre, to allow for any rising.
Tie firmly with string, placing a plate on top of the bowl to hold the paper in place while doing so. Make a handle of string from side to side of the bowl, latching it onto the string around the bowl, and use to lower the pudding gently into boiling water. Steam, covered, for 6 hours. The water should come halfway up the side of the pudding bowl. It is a good idea to sit the pudding on a metal ring or an old, upturned saucer.
Top up the water with boiling water from time to time. Remove from the water, cover with fresh baking paper and string. Store until needed.
To serve, put the pudding into a saucepan of boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the basin and steam for 2½ hours. Invert the pudding onto a heated plate. To flame, warm a tablespoon or so of rum or brandy, light and pour over the pudding at the table – turn the lights low first to enjoy the flame and be amazed at the spectacle. Serve accompanied by vanilla egg custard, brandy sauce, brandied butter or heavy cream.
• This pudding will keep for many months. For this quantity you will need a 1.7 litre pudding bowl, or you can make two puddings using two smaller basins.
Recipe from Margaret Fulton Christmas by Margaret Fulton, with photographs by Mark Roper. Published by Hardie Grant Books.