Basic Christmas Pudding recipe
245g (31/2 cups) breadcrumbs, made from day-old bread
75g (1/2 cup) plain flour
2 teaspoons mixed spice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
50g (1/3cup) plain flour, extra, for cloth
1 60cm square unbleached calico cloth
250g raisins, coarsely chopped if desired
125g mixed peel
2 lemons, rind finely grated
250mls (1 cup) brandy
250g butter, at room temperature
100g (1/2 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
Basic Christmas Pudding recipe
Place the calico in a large bowl and cover with water. Allow to soak overnight. Combine the raisins, sultanas, currants, mixed peel and lemon rind in a large bowl. Heat the brandy in a small saucepan until almost boiling, add to the fruit mixture and stir to combine. Cover and set aside over- night. By heating the brandy, the fruit will soak it up more quickly for it to become soft and plump. You can soak the fruit for longer, however, once the brandy has been absorbed, there is no need to soak the fruit further as the flavour won't intensify with time.
Drain the calico and place into a sauce- pan of boiling water. Boil for 20 minutes.
Beat the butter and brown sugar in a medium mixing bowl with electric beaters until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.Add the breadcrumbs, plain flour, mixed l spice, cinnamon and ginger to the fruit and brandy mixture and mix well. Any type of s bread can be used to make the crumbs -white breadcrumbs are the most commonly used but don't forget bread, such as rye, that will give a richer flavour.
Add the butter mixture and mix with clean hands until thoroughly combined.
Remove the calico from the boiling water (wear rubber gloves so you don't get burnt). Wring out the excess water. Lie the calico flat on a clean work surface amd sprinkle with the extra plain flour. Spread the flour with your hands to form a thin but complete layer over the calico to about 5cm from the edge. This flour coating forms a seal aroung the pudding to prevent it from becoming water-logged during cooking.
Shape the pudding mixture into a large ball and place in the centre of the floured calico. If you are adding old coins to the pudding, poke them evenly into the mixture now. Gather the calico together at the top and then tie with unwaxed string, close to the mixture and as tightly as possible, forming a loop of string when tying. If there is excess space between the pudding and the cloth, or it isn't sealed properly, water may seep inside during cooking. The string loop ensures that the pudding can be lifted out of the boiling water with ease and means that you will have something to hang it by for it to dry.
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. The saucepan should be large enough so the pudding can move freely without resting on the bottom or touching the sides.
Carefully lower the pudding into the saucepan of boiling water. Cover with the lid and cook at a gentle boil over medium-high heat for 5 hours. Add more boiling water to the saucepan when necessary to keep the pudding from sitting on the bottom but avoid pouring the water directly onto the pudding.
Remove the pudding from the boiling water wearing rubber gloves. You can serve the pudding straight after cooking or store it for later use. The pudding will develop a richer flavour if stored. Hang the pudding immediately in a dry place where it is not touching anything. Over the back of a chair, from the hand of an open drawer or from a suspended broom handle are all good options. Loop the ends of the calico through the string so they don't rest on the pudding and prevent it from drying properly. The outside of the pudding will begin to dry almost immediately, but allow the pudding to hand overnigh to dry completely.
The next day, remove the string from the pudding and peel back the calico to the top of the pudding. You will notice that the edges of the calico are still a little damp and need to be dried out if the pudding is to be successfully kept. Set the pudding aside in a dry place until these edges dry out - this may take upto 2 days depending on how humid the weather is. When dry, tightly tie the cloth as close to the pudding as possible with unwaxed string and store in an airtight container in the fridge for upto 2 months. Alternatively, the pudding can be hunf in a cool, dry place.
Heating and serving: On the day of serving, the Christmas pudding needs to be rebolied to reheat it. Remove the pudding from the fridge the night before it is going to be reheated. Wearing rubber gloves, carefully lower it into a large saucepan of boiling water and cook as in step 4 for 2 hours, adding boiling water to the saucepan when necessary. Carefully remove the pudding and hang it as in step 5 for about 10 minutes. Remove the string and peel back the cloth. Invest into a serving plate and remove the cloth (the pudding will darken with standing). Heat 250mls (1 cup) brandy in a small saucepan until almost boiling. Pour over the pudding, decorate as desired and ignite. Bring it to the table while still aflame.
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