My Christmas pudding
90g self-raising flour
125g chilled butter
30g flaked almonds
125g carrot, grated
60g Italian mixed peel
90g light muscovado sugar
Zest and juice of a lemon
A whole nutmeg (you’ll use half)
2 eggs, beaten
Grate the butter into the flour and rub together to a breadcrumb texture. Add the almonds, carrot, raisins, currants, sultanas, breadcrumbs, mixed peel, sugar, and lemon zest. Grate in half of the nutmeg. Mix these ingredients together. Add the lemon juice and eggs, and mix well until fully combined.
Butter a 1.25-litre (2-pint) ceramic pudding bowl, or several smaller bowls (this year I used a 1-litre bowl and two mini pudding moulds). If using a large bowl, cut out a circle of baking parchment to fit in the top of the bowl, butter it well, and place it in the bowl. (This helps the pudding to stay together when you are releasing it from the bowl.) Spoon in the pudding mixture almost to the top. Flatten the surface, pressing down well.
Cut out a circle of baking paper and a circle of foil, each two inches bigger than the diameter of the bowl. Butter the baking paper. Make a pleat in the middle of both the baking paper and the foil. Lay the baking paper buttered side down over the bowl, and the foil on top. Tie them tightly with string under the rim of the bowl.
Put the bowl in a steamer or in a pan of simmering water which comes halfway up the side of the bowl. You now have two options:
1. Steam the pudding fully, for 8-9 hours. Afterwards, remove the foil and baking paper. Pierce several holes in the pudding with a skewer and pour over the brandy. Cover the bowl. with clingfilm. Store in a dark place. On the day of eating, replace the clingfilm and pierce it several times. Microwave on full power for 5 minutes, stand for 3 minutes, microwave on low/defrost for 7 minutes, and stand for 5 minutes before unmoulding.
2. Steam the pudding for 6 hours. Afterwards, remove the foil and baking paper. Pierce several holes in the pudding with a skewer and pour over the brandy. Then put on fresh baking paper and foil, buttered and pleated as before. Store in a dark place. On the day of eating, steam the pudding for 2-3 hours, then rest for 3-4 minutes before unmoulding.
Whichever method you use, you must make sure that you keep topping up the steamer/pan with boiling water.
Serve the pudding with traditional brandy butter, custard, or (my favourite) extra thick cream.