Traditionally the pudding is made on the Sunday Next Before Advent, or “Stir up Sunday” in late November, when the Collect for the Sunday begins,
Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded…
The whole household is then supposed to give the mixture a stir, and make a (silent) wish.
It can be made earlier, like a rich fruitcake, but better late than never.
Ingredients and mixing the recipe
8oz raisins, roughly chopped
8 oz sultanas .. ..
8 oz dried apricots .. .. (preferably without sulphur dioxide)
6 oz prunes .. ..
2 oz blanched almonds, chopped
2 oz mixed (citrus) peel, chopped, or 2 tablespoons coarse-cut marmalade
4 oz dark brown sugar
6 oz fresh breadcrumbs – I use wholemeal, but white is fine
2 oz ground almonds
4 oz shredded suet (you can use beef or vegetable suet)
I cooking apple, peeled, cored and grated or finely chopped
1 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and mixed spice
½ teaspoon each of ground cloves and ground allspice
½ nutmeg, freshly grated (you can vary the spices a bit according to what you have)
Grated rind of 1 lemon, 1orange, squeeze juice and retain.
Mix all dry ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl:
¼ pint stout – eg. Guinness
¼ pint barley wine if you can find it, otherwise use a fortified wine, eg. marsala, sherry, port
3 tablespoons rum or brandy,
Juice of the lemon and orange
Beat all wet ingredients well, or whiz in a food processor.
Add to dry ingredients, stir well (you can invite other family members to give a good stir and make a wish!)
Mixture should be of good dropping consistency, that is, it should fall from the spoon when it is tapped on the edge of the bowl. If not, add a bit more stout or wine.
Cooking the Christmas Pudding
Next day, grease a pudding basin, c. 3 pints., or 2 smaller ones. Pack mixture in. Cover double layer of buttered/greased greaseproof paper, tie down with string.
Steam pudding for c. 6 to 7 hours, topping water up as necessary.
I use my pressure cooker, c. 40 minutes with no pressure, then about 4 ½ hours at 15lbs pressure.
When cold, replace greaseproof paper covering with fresh paper. Store the Christmas Pudding in a cool, dark place.
Cooking the Christmas Pudding on Christmas Day
On the great day, steam again for c.1 ½ hours, or c. 45 minutes in pressure cooker. I bring mine to pressure just as I serve the main course, which works out fine for timing.
Reduce pressure with cold water. Heat a little brandy gently in a small saucepan. Turn the pudding out onto warm dish with enough depth for extra liquid. Pour brandy over pudding, set fire to it (!) and serve with brandy or rum butter, brandy cream, or possibly ice cream.