The Ultimate Christmas Pudding Recipe!

The time of year has come to gather around the kitchen table and make your Christmas Pudding. This is a tradition that we have been doing since the eldest was a tot, that's nearly 30 years now!

So this is my favourite Christmas Pudding recipe for you to have a go at. Don't forget to pop your lucky penny in and remember, every member of the family should have a stir and make a wish - what will you wish for this year?

110g suet
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
525g luxury mixed fruit,
25g almonds chopped
3 tbs brandy
75ml stout (or cider if you want a lighter taste)
3 medium eggs
50g self-raising flour, sifted
110g breadcrumbs
1 tsp mixed spice
¼ tsp nutmeg (freshly grated if possible)
1tsp ground cinnamon
225g dark brown sugar

Begin the day before you want to steam the pudding. Take your largest mixing bowl and add the suet, breadcrumbs, spices and sugar. Mix these ingredients together, then stir in all the dried fruit and nuts followed by the orange and lemon zests.

Next in a smaller basin, measure out the brandy and stout, then add the eggs and beat these thoroughly together. Pour this over the dry ingredients and begin to mix 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! Cover the bowl and leave overnight.

Next day stir in the sifted flour, then pack the mixture into the lightly greased 1.2l basin, cover it with a double layer of baking parchment and a sheet of foil and tie it securely with string. 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 filled with 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 straight from the kettle about halfway through the time.

When the pudding is steamed, let it get quite cold, then remove the baking parchment and foil and replace them with some fresh ones, again making a string handle for easy handling. Now your Christmas pudding is ready for Christmas Day. Keep it in a cool place away from the light. It will now keep for well over a year if covered and stored properly.

On the day the pud is required: fill a saucepan quite full with boiling water, put it on the heat and, when it comes 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 for 2hrs 15 mins. You'll need to check the water from time to time and maybe top it up a bit.

When you are ready to serve the pudding, remove from the steamer and take off the wrapping. Slide a palette knife all around the pudding and turn it out on to a warmed plate. Now warm a ladleful of brandy over direct heat and, as soon as the brandy is hot, turn out the flame and ask someone to set light to the brandy using a long match. Place the ladle, now gently flaming, on top of the pudding - but don't pour it over until you reach the table (if you don't have a gas hob, warm the brandy in a small saucepan). 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 brandy butter and custard.

PS: Technically the brandy is supposed to go into the pudding but a little sip for the cook doesn't hurt!