This seasonal Christmas Pudding dish goes back a long way in our family. This recipe has been adapted and modified over the years that I have made them. I have included two recipes depending upon typical preferences for this dish. The first is more traditional and heavier; the second is lighter and moister. Both are delicious. I would normally make the puddings at least 1 year before they were to be eaten and store them in their bowl or wrap in baking/parchment paper and foil, well sealed (and frequently moistened with an appropriate spirit), in an airtight container.
RECIPE 1 (sufficient for two medium to large puddings):
8 oz Moist sugar (use soft brown)
8 oz Chopped suet or modern-day equivalent
8 oz Sultanas, cleaned
8 oz Raisins, halved and stoned
4 oz Currants, washed and dried
4 oz Shredded mixed candied peel (cut your own or use ready cut)
4 oz Plain flour
4 oz Breadcrumbs
2 oz Almonds, blanched and shredded
Grated rind of 1 lemon and/or orange
1 Carrot, shredded/grated
1 t nutmeg
½ t Salt
½ cup Milk
1 Small wine glass brandy
RECIPE 2 (sufficient for one large or three small puddings):
1 cup Brown sugar
1 cup Raisins
1 cup Prunes
1 cup Figs
1 cup Dates
1 cup Currants
1 cup Apple, unpeeled
2 Plums, destoned and finely chopped
1 cup Butter
1 cup Carrot, shredded
1 cup Potato, grated
1½ cups Flour
Two slices of bread, roughly crumbed
1 t Baking soda
1 pinch Salt
Place all of the dried and fresh fruits into a large glass bowl. Add a large measure of either whiskey, brandy, dark rum, or a heavy desert wine (e.g., sherry). Stir and leave for 24 hours in a cool place. Stir occasionally.
Add the remaining ingredients to the fruit and mix thoroughly.
Transfer the mixture to a large glazed bowl, or divide into three individual small pudding bowls (or two large bowls if using Recipe 1).
Steam the pudding/s for 3 hours in a large pot with a small of water in the bottom. I use a slow cooker, and cook the puddings for about 12 hours on low. I have even used a steamer basket and a wok. When steaming in a pot of water, use an inverted heat-proof bowl in the bottom of the pot to keep the bowl with the pudding above the level of the water. Cover the pot, and cook on medium heat, keeping water to a low boil.
The Christmas Pudding can now be eaten, but its taste and texture improve with aging in an airtight container and topping it up with alcohol. Every three months, add a small measure of either brandy, rum, or whiskey to each of the puddings. Brandy is traditional; rum gives a darker colour; and whiskey changes its flavour (Jack Daniels is good). Before adding the spirit use, a cocktail stick to pierce the pudding. This will allow the alcohol to be absorbed throughout the pudding. I made one Christmas pudding that was eaten 2 years later. I believe there was more brandy than fruit!!!
If properly stored and regularly “fed” with your spirit of choice, the puddings can be kept for up to 2 years. They mature like a fine wine. To serve, either reheat in boiling water or microwave. Top with shot of brandy, light it, and serve with custard.