This is the traditional pudding at Christmas dinners in the UK. I have an old family recipe, but this one from 'Delia Smith's Christmas' cookery book is great, and a bit 'lighter' than my family one. It's the one I use nowadays when making my own, rather than buying or using one given to me by a friend (who, every year, makes enough to feed an army.
Delia Smith's Christmas pudding recipe
"This recipe makes one large pudding in a 2 pint (1.2 litre) basin. If you have any left over it will re-heat beautifully, wrapped in foil, in the oven next day. If you want two smaller puddings, use two 1 pint (570 ml) basins, but give them the same steaming time.
4 oz (110g) shredded suet
2 oz (50g) self-raising flour, sifted
4 oz (110 g) white breadcrumbs
1 level teaspoon ground mixed spice
1/4 level teaspon freshly grated nutmeg
good pinch ground cinnamon
8 oz (225g) soft dark brown sugar
4 oz (110g) sultanas
4 oz (110g) raisins
10oz (275g) currants
1oz (25g) mixed candied peel, finely chopped
1oz (25g) almonds skinned and chopped
1 medium cooking appled, peeled cored and finely chopped
grated zest of half of a large orange
grated zest of half of one large lemon
2 tablespoons rum or brandy (not cooking grade, GOOD stuff!)
5 fl oz of dark beer - stout-type.
2 large eggs
You will also need a 2 pint (1.2 litre) pudding basin, lightly greased.
Begin the day before you want to steam the pudding.
Take your largest, roomiest mixing bowl and start by putting in the suet, sifted flour and breadcrumbs, spices and sugar. Mix these ingredients very thoroughly together, then gradually mix in all the dried fruit, mixed peel and nuts followed by the apple and the grated orange and lemon zests. Don't forget to tick everything off so as not to leave anything out. Now in a smaller basin measure out the rum( or brandy) and stout, then add the eggs and beat these thoroughly together. Next pour this over all the other ingredients, and begin to mix very thoroughly. It's now traditional to gather all the family round, especially the children, and invite everyone to have a really good stir and make a wish! The mixture should have a fairly sloppy consistency – that is, it should fall instantly from the spoon when this is tapped on the side of the bowl. If you think it needs a bit more liquid add a spot more stout. Cover the bowl and leave overnight.
Next day pack the mixture into the lightly greased basin, cover it with a double sheet of silicone paper (baking parchment) and a sheet of foil and tie it securely with string (you really need to borrow someone's finger for this!). It's also a good idea to tie a piece of string across the top to make a handle. Place the pudding in a steamer set over a saucepan of simmering water and steam the pudding for 8 hours. Do make sure you keep a regular eye on the water underneath and top it up with boiling water from the kettle from time to time. When the pudding is steamed let it get quite cold, then remove the steam papers and foil and replace them with some fresh ones, again making a string handle for easier manoeuvring. Now your Christmas pudding is all ready for Christmas Day. Keep it in a cool place away from the light. Under the bed in an unheated bedroom is an ideal place.
(I 'feed' my puds by spiking them all over with a metal skewer and pouring over approx 1 tablespoon of brandy, and allow the pud to absorb it and replace the covering. I do this once a week until Christmas!)
To cook, fill a saucepan quite full with boiling water, put it on the heat and, when it comes back to the boil, place a steamer on top of the pan and turn it down to a gentle simmer. Put the Christmas pudding in the steamer, cover and leave to steam away for 2¼ hours. You'll need to check the water from time to time and maybe top it up a bit.
To serve, remove the pudding from the steamer and take off the wrapping. Slide a palette knife all round the pudding, then turn it out on to a warmed plate. Place a suitably sized sprig of holly on top. Now warm a ladleful of brandy over direct heat, and as soon as the brandy is hot ask someone to set light to it. Place the ladle, now gently flaming, on top of the pudding – but don't pour it over until you reach the table. When you do, pour it slowly over the pudding, sides and all, and watch it flame to the cheers of the assembled company! When both flames and cheers have died down, serve the pudding with rum sauce, or rum or brandy butter.
If you want to make individual Christmas puddings for gifts, this quantity makes eight 6 oz (175 g) small metal pudding basins. Steam them for 3 hours, then re-steam for 1 hour. They look pretty wrapped in silicone paper and muslin and tied with attractive bows and tags."
PS - the notes in RED above, are my own, not part of Delia's recipe!
This is very rich, so small portions are recommended.
It's delicious cold, or cut into slices and fried gently in butter with a little icing sugar to help caramelise the outside of the pud slices!