Never-too-late Christmas pudding

Serves: 8-10
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 3 hours plus time for standing overnight

NEVER TOO LATE CHRISTMAS PUDDINGIngredients:

350g (12oz) seedless raisins
225g (8oz) sultanas
150m (5fl oz) stout
4 tbsp brandy
3 ready to eat figs chopped into small pieces
3 ready to eat apricots chopped into small pieces
4 ready to eat prunes chopped into small pieces
30g (1½oz) chopped almonds
1 carrot peeled and grated
1 apple peeled, cored and grated
175g (6oz) plain flour, sifted
2 tsp ground mixed spice
½ tsp ground cinnamon
175g (6oz) white breadcrumbs
175g (6oz) dark muscovado sugar
2 eggs beaten

To decorate:

Sprig of holly
2-3 glace cherries
A sprinkling of icing sugar

Method:

1. Place the dried fruit, almonds, carrots and apple into a bowl. Pour in the stout and leave overnight in a non-metallic bowl. Cover with cling film.

2. Sift the flour and spices together. Add to the fruit mixture, together with the breadcrumbs, sugar and eggs. Mix well.

3. Pour the mixture into one large 1.4 litre bowl or two smaller ones.

4. Cover the bowl with a large square of pleated greaseproof paper. On top of this place a piece of pleated foil. If using a round Christmas bomb mould, simply grease the surface.

5. Secure the papers by tying a piece of string lightly around the top of the bowl.

6. Stand the pudding on a trivet in a large pan with a tight fitting lid.

7. Steam for 3 hours, topping up with boiling water as necessary.

8. Repeat on Christmas Day for about 1-½ hours. Serve as illustrated.

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