450g/1lb dried mixed fruit use a mixture of sultanas, raisins, and currants
3tbsp Sherry or Brandy
1 small cooking apple, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
1 orange, finely grated rind and juice
75g/3oz butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
100g/3½oz light muscovado sugar
2 free-range eggs
100g/4oz self-raising flour
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
40g/1½oz fresh white breadcrumbs
40g/1½oz whole shelled almonds or walnuts, roughly chopped
Optional: Brandy for flaming
- Measure the sultanas, raisins, currants and apple into a bowl with the orange juice. Add the measured brandy (or sherry), stir and leave to marinate overnight.
- Put the measured butter, sugar and grated orange rind into a large bowl and cream together with a wooden spoon or a hand-held whisk until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a little of the measured flour if the mixture starts to curdle.
- Sift together the flour, cinnamon and mixed spice, then fold into the creamed mixture with the breadcrumbs and the nuts. Add the soaked dried fruits with their soaking liquid and stir well.
- Generously butter a 1.4 litre/2½ pint pudding basin or two 1 pint pudding bowls. Cut a small disc of foil or baking parchment and press into the base of the basin.
- Spoon into the prepared pudding basin and press the mixture down with the back of a spoon. Cover the pudding with a layer of baking parchment paper and foil, both pleated across the middle to allow for expansion. Tie securely with string and trim off excess paper and foil with scissors.
- To steam, put the pudding in the top of a steamer filled with simmering water, cover with a lid and steam for eight hours, topping up the water as necessary.
- Lower the pudding onto the trivet and pour in enough boiling water to come half way up the side of the bowl. Cover with a lid, bring the water back to the boil, then simmer for about six hours, until the pudding is a glorious deep brown colour, topping up the water as necessary.
- When cooked through, remove the pudding from the pan and cool completely. Discard the paper and foil and replace with fresh. Store in a cool, dry place.
- To serve on Christmas Day, steam the pudding for about two hours to reheat. Turn the pudding onto a serving plate.
To flame, (Optional) warm the brandy in a small pan, pour it over the hot pudding and set light to it. Serve with brandy butter, cream or custard.