Believe it or not, it's time to make your Christmas pudding

Ingredients

Traditionally, Christmas puddings are made on the Sunday before Advent, which this year falls on November 20th, and is known as Stir-up-Sunday. Making your pudding or cake early means it really does benefit from time to mature.

The flavour of the spices mellows and deepens, and the fruits plump up and soften. This recipe was given to me by my Auntie Joan. She has been making pudding for 40 years. The recipe has been handed down by her mother before her, and her mother before that.

This recipe makes three 1.2 litre puddings, and for me, this is the perfect size as anything larger takes so much longer to cook. We usually use two over Christmas and keep one for later in the year. 

  • 300g raisins
  • 300g sultanas
  • 200g currants
  • 100g mixed peel
  • 100g glace cherries
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 150g chopped almonds
  • 50g chopped walnuts
  • 400g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 100g self-raising flour, sieved
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 1 tsp each of ground cinnamon, mixed spice
  • Half a nutmeg, grated
  • 200g melted butter
  • 5 eggs
  • 500ml bottle of stout
  • 4 tbsp brandy
  • 1 cooking apple, peeled and grated
  • Juice and rind of an orange and a lemon

Method

  1. You will need 3 x 1.2 litres (two pints) plastic pudding basins and lids, buttered greaseproof paper, large enough to cover the top of each pudding, with a single pleat down the centre.
  2. Soak the sultanas, raisins, currants, and cherries in the brandy and stout overnight; give them a good stir now and then. The next day or so, mix all the ingredients together until well combined.
  3. Divide the mixture between the two bowls and pack it in. Cover with the greaseproof paper, folded, with a pleat in the centre as the puddings will expand slightly as they cook, then pop the lids on.
  4. Christmas puddings are quite dense because of all the fruit and nuts they contain. Place the puddings in deep roasting tins. Pour boiling water into the tin – the water should come almost halfway up the pudding bowl – and cook for 3½ hours in the oven at 100ºC/Gas Mark ¼, or in a steamer on top of the cooker.
  5. Top up with boiling water as required. When the cooking time is up, allow to cool and store in a cool dry place.
  6. When you want to eat the puddings, steam them for a further one and a half to two hours. Turn them out and flame with brandy. Each pudding should serve at least six.