INGREDIENTS (SERVES SIX)
200g shredded suet | 75g plain or spelt flour | 150g fresh breadcrumbs
150g muscovado sugar | 150g currants | 150g raisins
40g candied orange peel | 1 small dessert apple, grated
2 teaspoons mixed spice | 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt | 3 large eggs | 150ml brandy or dark rum
75ml stout | Butter to grease the pudding basins
Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then add the eggs, brandy and stout and mix by gently stirring with a wooden spoon. You can stir from east to west if you fancy it. Leave the mixture to rest overnight.
Prepare the pudding basins for steaming. Generously grease each with butter and cut a circle of baking paper the same size as the base. Place it in the basin; it will stick to the butter. This will make it easier to get the pudding out.
Spoon the mixture into the basins, then cut another two circles of baking paper with a diameter about 8–10cm larger than the top of the basin. Make a narrow fold across the middle to leave room for the paper cover to expand slightly. I like to use two layers of paper. Tie securely around the top of the basin with kitchen string, then cover with foil and tie kitchen string to create a handle so it will be easier to lift the basin out of the pan after steaming.
Preheat the oven to 160ºC. Use a pan large enough to hold your pudding basins. Stand the pudding basin on an inverted saucer, a jam jar lid or trivet in the base of a deep ovenproof saucepan or pot. Pour in boiling water to come halfway up the side of the basin. Cover the pan, either with its own lid or with foil, in order to trap the steam. Place in the preheated oven and steam for 3–4 hours for small puddings and 5–7 hours for large ones.
Carefully remove the pudding from the pot while it is still in the oven. Have a tea towel at the ready to hold it safely and catch all the hot water that will drip from it. Leave the pudding to rest for a couple of minutes. Remove the string and foil, then open the paper lid and ease the pudding out using a blunt knife.
You can either serve them straight away or, if Christmas is still a while off, cool the puddings in their basins, changing the baking paper covers for clean ones. Store in a cool cupboard and feed them with a couple of teaspoons of brandy or rum every week.
To warm on the day, steam for an hour and serve with custard or brandy butter.