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Christmas pudding

If you haven't made your puddings already, the time is now.

This plum pudding recipe has been used in my family for at least four generations. It originally came from the Isle of Guernsey.

The recipe makes two large puddings, or three medium-sized puddings or four smaller ones. The quantities in the recipe can easily be halved. Add some blanched almonds to the pudding if you wish, or substitute some of the mixed peel with glace fruit.

If you can’t fit all the puddings on the stove to cook at the same time, keep others overnight in the fridge and do it the next day.

Adrienne Priddle’s plum pudding

1 lb (450g) raisins

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1 lb (450g) sultanas

1 lb (450g) currants

1 lb (450g) mixed peel

1/4 pint (150mls) rum or brandy

1lb (450g) butter, softened

1 lb (450g) soft brown sugar

8 free-range eggs

1/2 lb (225g) self-raising flour

1 rounded tsp mixed spice

1 tsp salt

1/2 lb (225g) fresh breadcrumbs

1 grated large carrot

Firstly, prepare the pudding basins and set up the saucepans. Line the bottoms of basins with circles of baking paper. Brush basins thoroughly with oil or butter. Place large saucepans on the stove and half-fill with water. Position a trivet or upside down plate in the bottom of each. To keep the pudding stable during cooking lay a folded tea towel over the plate. Bring the water up to the boil when ready to cook the puddings.

Have all the ingredients set out before you. It is a good idea to mark each one off on the recipe as it is added.

Rinse the fruit in cold water and leave to drain in a colander. Then place in a large bowl and mix in the rum or brandy.

Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Fold in the flour, salt and spices.

Mix the breadcrumbs and carrot into the fruit in the bowl. Tip in the pudding batter and stir until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Spoon the mixture into prepared basins, to about three quarters full. Cover with sheets of baking paper and foil, pleated across the middle. Tie securely with string around the rim a couple of times. Leave a loop so it is easier to lift puddings out of the saucepans.

Carefully lower the puddings into the boiling water in the saucepans. The water should come halfway up the sides of the basins. Put a lid on the saucepans and simmer the large puddings for eight hours, small ones for six hours. Keep an eye on the water level and replenish with boiling water as necessary. The puddings must not go off the boil, just bubble along gently. You may need to tilt the lid slightly to let some steam escape.

When the puddings are cooked and have cooled a little, lift them out of the saucepans. When cold take off the paper and foil covers and replace with new ones. Store the puddings in the fridge or a cool place. They can be frozen until next year.

On Christmas Day, boil your pudding for two hours as before. Leave it in the water to stay hot until needed. At serving time turn the pudding out onto a dish. Heat some brandy or rum in a small saucepan, set alight and pour over the pudding. Serve with hard sauce and a pouring sauce.

Diana Lampe is a Canberra Times Food and Wine writer.

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