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Christmas Pudding

Christmas pudding is a type of pudding traditionally served as part of the Christmas dinner in the UK. It has its origins in medieval England, and is sometimes known as plum pudding. Despite the name “plum pudding,” the pudding contains no actual plums due to the pre-Victorian use of the word “plums” as a term for raisins. The pudding is composed of many dried fruits held together by egg and suet, sometimes moistened by treacle or molasses and flavoured with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and other spices. The pudding is usually aged for a month or more, or even a year; the high alcohol content of the pudding prevents it from spoiling during this time.

1lb -450g dried mixed fruit, raisins,sultanas, raisins and currants
1 oz -25 g candied peel, finely chopped
1 small cooking apple, peeled and cored then finely chopped or grated, plus juice
½ large orange
½ lemon
4 tablespoons brandy, also put aside a little extra for soaking
2 oz -55 g self-raising flour
1 level teaspoon ground mixed spice
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 oz -110 g shredded suet
4oz -110g soft, dark brown sugar
4 oz -110 g fresh white bread crumbs
1 oz -25 g almonds, roughly chopped
2 large, fresh eggs

Grease a 2½ pint – 1.4 litre pudding basin.
Place the dried fruits, candied peel, apple, orange and lemon juice into a large mixing bowl,then add the brandy and stir well. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave for the flavours to marinate for at least a couple of hours, preferably overnight.
Place the flour, mixed spice and cinnamon in a very large mixing bowl, stir. Add the suet, sugar, lemon and orange zest, bread crumbs, nuts and stir again until all the ingredients are well mixed. Lastly add the marinaded fruits and stir again.
Beat the eggs lightly in a small bowl then stir quickly into the dryingredients. The mixture should have a fairly soft consistency.
At this point it is time to get the family together for the tradition of stirring the Christmas Pudding, taking it in turns in stirring, making a wish and adding a few coins (optional).
Place the mixture into the greased pudding basin, gently pressing the mixture down with the back of a spoon. Cover with a double layer of greaseproof paper or baking parchment, then a layer of aluminum foil and tie securely with string.
Place the pudding in a steamer placed over a pan of simmering water and steam the pudding for 7 hours. Making sure that you check the water level frequently so it never boils dry. The pudding should be a deep brown colour when it is cooked.
Remove the pudding from the steamer and leave to cool completely. Remove the paper and prick the pudding all over with a skewer , pour in a little extra brandy. Cover with fresh greaseproof paper and retie with string. Store in a cool dry place until Christmas day.
Note: The pudding really does need time to mature and the flavour to develop, it should not be eaten straight after the first cooking.

On Christmas day reheat the pudding by steaming again for about an hour. Serve with Brandy or Rum Sauce or Brandy Butter .
Traditionally puddings were made on or immediately after the Sunday “next before Advent”, i.e. four to five weeks before Christmas.The day became known as “Stir-up Sunday”. Traditionally everyone in the household, or at least every child, gave the mixture a stir and made a wish while doing so.

It was common practice to include small silver coins in the pudding mixture, which could be kept by the person whose serving included them. The usual choice was a silver threepence or a sixpence. The coin was believed to bring wealth in the coming year.

Other tokens are also known to have been included, such as a tiny wishbone (to bring good luck), a silver thimble (for thrift), or an anchor (to symbolise safe harbour).

Once turned out of its basin, decorated with holly, doused in brandy, and flamed (or “fired”), the pudding is traditionally brought to the table ceremoniously, and greeted with a round of applause

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