The Ultimate Christmas Pudding

Christmas wouldn’t be the same without this spectacular pudding. Boozy and decadent, it’s worth every second of the time it takes to make.
(serves 10-12)
1 cup flour
pinch salt
half tsp baking soda
1 and a half tsp mixed spice
half tsp ground cardamon
250g butter
1 and a half cups dark brown sugar
4 eggs
½ tsp almond essence
1kg mixed dried fruit
quarter cup cherries & peel
quarter cup brandy
70g slivered almonds
1 cup fresh bread crumbs

Soak dried fruit in fortified wine or spirits of your choice for 1-14 days (turning fruit regularly & topping up as necessary)
Grease 7-8 cup basin, dust with flour
Sift flour, salt, baking soda & mixed spice
Mix fruit with brandy, almond essence & almonds
Beat the butter & sugar until cream. Beat eggs in one at a time. If mixture curdles, add a little flour
Fold in fruit, flour & breadcrumbs
Turn mixture into prepared basin (leaving small gap at top for mixture to expand slightly)
Cover basin with 2 layers greaseproof paper and cover with lid if basin has one. If not, cover with a layer of foil and tie all 3 layers securely with string
Place the pudding on a trivet or upturned saucer in large saucepan with boiling water. The water should come half way up the sides of the basin.
Cover saucepan with a lid and cook for three hours, adding more boiling water as needed
Remove from heat and allow tocool completely. Keep refrigerated until Christmas Day.
On Christmas Day take the pudding from fridge early in the morning. Steam in large pot of boiling water (on trivet or saucer as before) for one hour.

Brandy Sauce

2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 and a half cups milk
2 tbsp sugar
quarter cup brandy

Heat butter in saucepan. Add flour & cook 2-3 minutes til bubbly
Remove from heat & stir in milk. Return to stove & cook over moderate heat. Stir till thickened. Stir in brandy.
To Flambe
Have pudding warm on heat resistant plate
Warm quarter cup brandy
Have matches ready
Carefully pour brandy over pudding. Light match & hold it close to pudding.

Jo’s Christmas Cake

When we moved to Australia, I worried our first Christmas might be bleak and lonely.
Our new neighbour, Jo, changed all that when she arrived on our doorstep with this mouth-watering fruitcake.

Grease and line 22cm round tin with baking paper
1 and a half cups sultanas
1 and a half cups currants
1 and a half cups raisins
1/3 cup chopped cherries or apricots
1/3 cup mixed peel
1/3 cup chopped dates or prunes
1/3 cup slivered almonds
2 cups flour
half cup self raising flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
quarter tsp nutmeg
250 g butter
1 cup brown sugar
4-5 eggs
quarter cup fruit juice

Marinate fruit and nuts in brandy (approx half a bottle or enough to cover fruit) overnight. Sift dry ingredients three times. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, fruit, fruit juice and nuts. Stir gently and place in cake pan. Drop tin a couple of times (to remove air bubbles) before placing in oven.

Bake 140 degrees for four hours on bottom shelf.

Once cool poke toothpick holes in top of cake and add more brandy. Repeat a couple of times before icing.

Party Punch (serves 24-30)

One sip of this nectar and I’m 10 years old again, counting the days till Christmas. It’s a hit with all generations in our family. And look, Mum! No alcohol.
12 lemons
2 cups sugar
1 pint water
2 large bottles ginger ale
2 large bottles sparkling grape juice
Sprigs of mint
tray ice cubes

Make syrup with sugar and water before adding other ingredients. Serve immediately.

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