60g mixed dried apricots and figs
20g chopped mixed peel
75ml brown ale
1/2 tbsp rum
30g pitted prunes
60g butter, softened, plus extra to grease
1/2 small dessert apple
20g blanched almonds
85g soft dark brown sugar
1/2 tbsp treacle
1 small egg, at room temperature
30g self-raising flour
1/4 tsp ground mixed spice
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Small pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Small pinch of ground ginger
Small pinch of salt
60g of fresh white breadcrumbs
- Roughly chop the apricots and figs. Finely grate the zest from the lemon, then squeeze the juice from half the lemon. Put the currants, raisins and peel into a bowl and add the ale, rum and lemon zest and juice. Make a pot of tea using the teabag and let cool. Put the prunes in a separate bowl and pour over the cold tea. Cover both bowls and leave to soak overnight.
- When ready to steam the pudding, grease the pudding basin with butter. Prepare the saucepan for steaming and cover the pudding.
- Drain the prunes, discarding the tea, then coarsely chop them and add to the fruit and beer. Grate the unpeeled apple and finely chop the almonds.
- Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Stir in the treacle.
- Beat the egg and slowly add the creamed mixture, beating well after each addition.
- Sift the flour, spices and salt together over the mixture. Add the breadcrumbs and fold in with a large spoon. Stir in the nuts, dried fruit and soaking liquor.
- Spoon the mixture into the pudding basin and level the surface. Lay the greaseproof paper and foil cover on top and secure under the rim, leaving a string handle.
- Place the pudding basin in the trivet in the steamer and pour in enough boiling water to come at least halfway up the sides of the basin (not touching the foil). Place the pan over a medium heat and ensure the water is maintaining a steady boil.
- Put the lid on the pan and steam the pudding for 8 hours, checking the pudding level in the saucepan frequently and topping up with hot water to ensure it doesn’t burn dry.
- After 8 hours, lift the pudding carefully out of the steamer and remove the cover. Wearing oven gloves, invert a serving dish over the bowl and turn both over together. Give the basin a sharp shake, which should release the pudding onto the dish. Serve the Christmas pudding with brandy butter or custard.
Stir Up Sunday is a tradition dating back to the Victorian era. Prince Albert often declared his love of the pudding, which contributed to it becoming it the Christmas staple it is now. Each member of the family would gather to take their turn stirring the pudding mixture from east to west (whilst making a wish) to represent the wise men’s journey in that direction.
A Christmas pudding traditionally comprises 13 ingredients to represent Jesus and his 12 disciples; ours includes a few more and we think they’re worth it for the added deliciousness.
The addition of a small silver coin into the mixture on Stir Up Sunday is believed to bring wealth in the coming year to the person who finds it in their pudding on the day it’s served. Other items often added include a small wishbone (to bring good luck), a silver thimble (for thrift) and an anchor (to symbolise safe harbour).