Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 8 hours
110g (4oz) shredded suet
110g (4oz) white breadcrumbs
1 level tsp ground mixed spice
¼ tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
Good pinch of ground cinnamon
225g (8oz) soft dark brown sugar
110g (4oz) sultanas
110g (4oz) raisins
275g (10oz) currants
25g (1oz) whole candied peel, finely chopped
25g (1oz) whole almonds, chopped (skin on is fine)
1 small cooking apple, cored and finely chopped (no need to peel)
Grated zest of ½ large navel orange
Grated zest of ½ large lemon
2 tbsp rum
75ml (3oz) barley wine
75ml (3floz) stout
50g (2oz) self-raising flour, sifted
A 1.2 litre pudding basin, lightly greased, baking parchment, foil and string, and a traditional or fan-type steamer.
1 Begin the day before you want to steam the pudding. Take your largest, roomiest mixing bowl and start by putting in the suet, breadcrumbs, spices and sugar. Mix these ingredients very thoroughly together, then gradually mix in all the dried fruit, peel and nuts followed by the apple and grated orange and lemon zests. Don’t forget to tick everything off as you go to make sure nothing gets left out.
2 Next, in a smaller basin, measure out the rum, barley wine and stout, then add the eggs and beat these thoroughly together. Pour this over all the other ingredients and begin to mix very thoroughly. It’s now traditional to gather all the family round, especially the children, and invite everyone to have a really good stir and make a wish! The mixture should have a fairly sloppy consistency – that is, it should fall instantly from the spoon when tapped on the side of the bowl. If you think it needs a bit more liquid add a spot more stout. Cover the bowl and leave overnight.
3 Next day, stir in the sifted flour quite thoroughly, then pack the mixture into the lightly greased basin, cover it with a double layer of baking parchment and a sheet of foil and tie it securely with string (you really need to borrow someone’s finger to secure the knot for this!). It’s also a good idea to tie a piece of string across the top to make a handle.
4 Place the pudding in a steamer set over a saucepan filled with simmering water and steam the pudding for eight hours. Make sure you keep a regular eye on the water underneath and top it up with boiling water straight from the kettle about halfway through cooking time.
5 When the pudding is steamed, let it get quite cold, then remove the baking parchment and foil and replace them with fresh ones, again making a string handle for easy manoeuvring. Now your pudding is ready to steam on Christmas Day (steam for one hour before serving). Keep it in a cool place away from the light until then. Under the bed in an unheated bedroom is an ideal place.
6 If you have any left over, it will reheat beautifully, wrapped in foil, in the oven next day. If you want two smaller puddings, use two 570ml basins, but give them the same steaming time. Steam for three hours, then re-steam for one hour before serving.
For more Delia Christmas recipes go to deliaonline.com
Recipe adapted from Delia’s Happy Christmas, published by Ebury Press 2009 © Delia Smith 2014
Recipe and image courtesy of waitrose.com