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Some cooks age their Christmas pudding for up to a year. This recipe, an adaptation of one in The Constance Spry Cookery Book (J. M. Dent and Sons, 1956), is much quicker but yields equally good results.

Yield: serves 12

Ingredients

For the Pudding

  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 3 12 cups fresh white bread crumbs
  • 2 cups dried currants
  • 1 34 cups seedless golden raisins
  • 1 34 cups seedless raisins
  • 1 12 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 13 lb. cold beef suet, membranes removed, grated
  • 23 cup stout, such as Guinness
  • 14 cup finely chopped candied lemon peel
  • 14 cup finely chopped candied orange peel
  • 14 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 12 tsp. ground allspice
  • 12 tsp. salt
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 granny smith apple, stemmed, cored, peeled, and coarsely grated
  • Juice and finely grated zest of a small orange

For the Custard

  • 4 cups milk
  • 12 cup sugar
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 14 tbsp. flour
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
  • 12 cup brandy, optional

Instructions

  1. For the pudding: Grease a 10-cup pudding basin or a heatproof ceramic bowl with butter; set aside. Put bread crumbs, currants, raisins, sugar, flour, suet, stout, peels, almonds, nutmeg, allspice, salt, eggs, apple, and orange juice and zest into a large bowl; mix well. Transfer mixture to basin; pat down to remove any air pockets. Cover basin with 2 layers of waxed paper and 2 layers of foil; tie tightly with twine.
  2. Put basin on a rack in a wide deep pot. Add enough water to reach two-thirds of the way up the sides of the basin. Cover; bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low to maintain a simmer; steam for 8 hours (replenish water as necessary). Carefully remove basin; let cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Remove twine, foil, and paper. Run a knife around edge of pudding to loosen it; turn it out onto a serving platter.
  3. For the custard: Whisk together milk and sugar in a small pot; bring just to a boil over medium-high heat. Whisk yolks in a medium heatproof bowl until frothy. While whisking constantly, gradually pour in hot milk mixture; whisk in flour and vanilla. Pour water into a medium pot to a depth of 2″; bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Place bowl of egg–milk mixture over simmering water; cook, stirring constantly, until it resembles a thin pudding, about 35 minutes. Strain custard through a fine sieve into a pitcher or bowl.
  4. To serve: Warm brandy in a pot; carefully light brandy with a match and pour over pudding. When flames die out, serve with custard (4 tbsp. per serving).

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