Healthy Baker's favourite Christmas pudding recipe.
Prep: 40 mins (+ standing time) Cooking: 4½ hours
500g mixed dried fruit
2/3 cup pitted, chopped prunes
½ cup sweetened dried cranberries
½ cup chopped dates
½ cup brandy
1¼ cups Healthy Baker Plain Flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
250g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing pudding basin
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated orange rind
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons treacle
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 cup breadcrumbs, made from day old bread, crusts removed
Combine mixed dried fruit, prunes, cranberries, dates and brandy in a large bowl. Cover and stand overnight, stirring occasionally.
Liberally grease a 2 litre (8 cup capacity) pudding basin with softened butter and line base with a circle of baking paper.
Sift together flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices; set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and rinds together until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition (do not be concerned if the mixture appears to curdle). Add treacle and beat to combine. Add creamed mixture to fruit, along with the flour mixture, almonds and breadcrumbs; stir well to combine.
Spoon mixture into prepared pudding basin. Place a 30cm square sheet of baking paper on a similar sized sheet of foil. Grease the paper with melted butter. Fold a pleat in the centre of the paper (to allow for expansion). Place over the basin, foil side up. Tie a double piece of string just under the rim to secure cover. Tie a double piece of string to make a handle.
Place an upturned heatproof saucer into a large saucepan or stockpot (large enough to fit pudding basin). Rest pudding on the saucer. Pour in enough boiling water to reach halfway up pudding basin. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat. Cover saucepan with lid; simmer for 4½ hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the pudding removes clean. Check the water level periodically, adding more boiling water if necessary.
Remove pudding from saucepan and stand for 10 minutes. Remove string, foil, and paper. If necessary, use a flat bladed butter knife to loosen pudding from tin. Turn pudding out onto serving plate and serve hot with custard, cream or ice cream.
To store: wrap cooled pudding in plastic wrap and foil. Store in refrigerator for up to 2 months.
To reheat: Remove from refrigerator and remove foil at least 4 hours before reheating (to allow pudding to come to room temperature). Remove plastic. Place pudding back in clean, greased pudding basin. Cover and reheat in simmering water, as in steps 5, 6 & 7 (except for the pleat), for 2 hours.
To reheat in microwave: Remove from refrigerator and remove foil at least 4 hours before reheating. Remove plastic. Line a microwave-proof plate with non-stick baking paper. Place pudding onto plate. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place on a microwave-safe rack or upturned saucer so pudding sits about 2cm above turntable . Reheat on medium-low (30% power) for 20 minutes or until the pudding feels warm. Stand 5 minutes before serving.