My maternal grandmother was English and as such my mother always served a traditional pudding each Christmas. She'd start in October, soaking the fruit for a month, then make the puddings in November, putting in old sixpences saved in a special tin for luck and hanging them in calico in the pantry to "mature."
The sixpence and the calico have gone the way of the other northern hemisphere traditions, but pudding itself is still a mainstay. Her other nod to modernity is having them cryrovaced. Embaressingly, she walks into any old butcher with them and smiles sweetly and asks them to do it for her.
I don't know why her puddings are so good, but they are. Her recipe is fairly simple - she's just dicatated it to me over the phone. But you better get a wiggle on - Christmas is sneaking up on us.
PS: This main pudding pic at the very top s not my mum's pudding. We are always too busy eating them to take pics! (And I've never seen one with more decoration than ice-cream or custard!)
Jean's Christmas Pudding
250g brown sugar
¼ tsp salt
Rind of 1 orange and one lemon
In a separate bowl
1/2 cup brandy, rum or sherry
100 grams soft white breadcrumbs
1 green apple, grated over breadcrumbs
1kg of mixed fruit (prunes, figs, raisins, sultanas etc)
60 grams orange and lemon
In a small bowl
120g SR flour
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp nutmeg
In a bowl put mixed fruit, cover with cling wrap and soak for a month (two weeks or a week at a pinch is fine). Add more alcohol if the fruit starts to look dry.
On the day you want to cook, grease 2 small or 1 large pudding tin (with a lid). Grate the apple on top of the breadcrumbs (I don't know why- NM). Cream butter well, then add sugar and mix. Add citrus rind, then add eggs one by one, mixing well. Add flour and spices, then the fruit, apple and breadcrumbs and combine well.
Fill the pudding bowl, leaving a little room at the top, cover with greaseproof paper and foil then secure lid tightly. If your tin has those little ring handles, tie string through them and round the bottom like you're tying a parcel, This will help keep it secure and make it easier to lift out.
Put the puddings in a large steamer with enough water to reach halfway up the pudding bowls. Simmer for 4 hrs for small and 6 hours for large puddings. Make sure to keep checking the water and adding more boiling water as needed. When done, take off the lids but leave in their tins until cool. Turn out, wrap in baking paper and get butcher to cryovac. On Xmas Day boil for an hour. We like to serve them with both custard and ice-cream.