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Traditional Christmas Puddings

In the past, Christmas puddings were made during the last weekend of November - everyone in the family taking a turn at stirring on 'Stir-up Sunday' and the puddings were eaten the following year. Nowadays it is more usual to make the puddings 3-6 months in advance - although you can make them at the last minute if you have to.

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Makes 1 large and 1 small pudding

125 g/4 oz self-raising flour
175 g/6 oz fresh white breadcrumbs
175 g/6 oz currants
175 g/6 oz sultanas
125 g/4 oz stoned dates
250 g/8 oz stoned raisins
175 g/6 oz shredded suet
50 g/2 oz cut mixed peel
50 g/2 oz blanched almonds, chopped 1 small apple, peeled, cored and grated
Grated rind and juice of 1 small orange
teaspoon mixed spice
teaspoon ground or grated nutmeg
teaspoon salt
3 eggs
4 tablespoons brown ale or cider
250 g/8 oz soft dark brown sugar
Lard, for greasing basins
3-4 tablespoons brandy, to serve


1 Place all the ingredients in a large bowl, stirring well to mix.

2 Grease 1 x 1.2 litre/2 pint pudding basin and 1 x 600 ml/1 pint pudding basin well with lard. Fill each basin just over three-quarters full and bury one silver coin, wrapped in foil, in each. Cover with greased greaseproof paper and foil or a pudding cloth. Tie securely with string.

3 Place each pudding in a saucepan and pour in boiling water to come halfway up the sides. Boil for 6-8 hours depending on size, topping up with more boiling water as necessary. Remove the puddings from the pans and leave overnight to cool completely.

4 Remove the coverings and cover again with fresh greased greaseproof paper and foil or a pudding cloth. Store the puddings in a cool, dry place.

5 To serve, reboil the puddings for 3-4 hours, depending on size, then turn out on to a warm dish and serve with Rum Butter or Brandy Butter. To ignite the pudding, warm the brandy, pour all over the pudding and set alight carefully.

Preparation time about 30 minutes, plus cooling
Cooking time: 6-8 hours, plus 3-4 hours before serving

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