This is the traditional Christmas pudding with a twist. It's lighter and quicker than traditional recipes - and you don't have to start making it in November! You can do this in one day.
TO MAKE THE PUDDING
First of all, you need to hydrate the dried fruits by soaking them in the booze. An hour or two should do it. Place all the dried fruits into a bowl, pour the alcohol over and give it a good stir. When the liquid is pretty much absorbed, add the nuts, spices and peel and leave it for a few hours for all the flavours to blend together. Shortly before you want to start cooking the puds, add the fat, flour, eggs and sugar. Stir everything well.
Now you can either pour the mixture into a big pudding basin, or into individual ramekins or pudding tins. Wrap each pudding in aluminium foil. If you are using a pressure cooker place your pudding(s) in and add water until it comes up to the brim of the pudding basin(s). Bring to the boil and cook under pressure for 1 hour for individual puds, 2 hours for one big one. If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can use a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. I haven't tried this method, but individual puds might take 3 hours, a big one maybe 5-6 hours.
Whichever method you are using to steam the puddings, you can check whether they are done by inserting a skewer. If it comes out dry, and the pudding looks to be set, it's done.
FOR THE BRANDY BUTTER
You need your butter to be a bit above room temperature, and cut into small cubes. Put the sugar into a bowl, add the butter, and whisk them together in a furious manner. When all is smooth and creamy, add the brandy in several tranches. When all is blended, it is done. Slam it in the fridge until you need it - it will last at least a week.
Some people like to risk burning their house down by flambéing their pudding in brandy. If you want to do this, warm the brandy in a small saucepan first. Then pour it over the pudding and set fire to it. I suspect this is done for dramatic effect only. Whether your pud is ablaze or not, place a spoonful of the brandy butter on it, eat and enjoy.
PUDDING • 500 grams mixed dried fruits • 110 grams fat • 100 grams self-raising flour • 2 eggs • 225 grams brown sugar • 25 grams candied orange peel • 25 grams whole almonds • 1 apple • zest of half an orange• zest of half a lemon• 100 ml sweet sherry • 100 ml brandy • 1 tsp ground nutmeg • 1 tsp ground cinnamon • 1 tsp ground allspice • BRANDY BUTTER • 180 grams unsalted butter • 180 grams brown sugar • 3 tbsp brandy
PLUS Dried fruits: you can use any combination of currants, raisins, sultanas, prunes, dried apricots, dried cranberries. Fat: traditionally suet, but you could substitute lard, butter or vegetable shortening.