Christmas pudding & brandy custard

Makes 3 small puddings

Christmas (plum) pudding with my Mum's family was always a highlight. This wonderful pudding recipe comes from my auntie, Michelle. My Nan (Irene) would hide a threepenny bit in each serve, which we could then exchange for 'real' money. This custom was stopped when the coins started disappearing - accidentally swallowed or 'acquired'!

  • ½ cup rum or brandy
  • 500g butter, melted
  • 500g currants
  • 500g sultanas
  • 500g raisins
  • 250g chopped dates
  • 250 g mixed peel
  • 125g flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarb soda
  • 125g slivered almonds
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 750g light brown sugar
  • 375g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 10 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Add all fruit to a large bowl and soak overnight in the rum or brandy. Sift in the flour and bicarb; add the almonds, essence, sugar, breadcrumbs, eggs and spices. Mix all together (with hands is best) and divide mixture between three puddings cloths. Tie the ends of each cloth together with kitchen string. In a stockpot large enough to hold all three puddings (or several large saucepans), bring water to the boil, add puddings and boil for 6 hours. Check water level regularly and top up with boiling water if required. Cool and store in a cool place until Christmas Day.To reheat, boil for at least 1 hour. Serve with brandy custard or icecream.

Brandy custard

  • 1 cup (250mL) milk
  • 1 cup (250mL) cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 60mL brandy

Place milk, cream and vanilla bean into a heavy-based saucepan and bring to simmering point. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks with sugar until light and foamy, then whisk in warm milk mixture. Rinse out the saucepan and pour the custard into the pan and cook over moderate heat, stirring continuously with a spoon, until mixture thickens. Strain into a jug, cool slightly and stir in brandy. Serve warm or cold.

Notes:

  • If, like me, you are happy to go without mixed peel, just replace with other fruit.
  • The puddings will last several months if stored in the fridge.
  • Cover the top of the custard with plastic wrap to stop a skin from forming. Of course, you could always buy prepared custard.
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