Aunt Stella's Christmas Pudding

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Great Auntie Stella was a wonderful member of the family fondly remembered for her kindness and her famous Christmas puddings. For generations it has been a family tradition to mix one sixpence into the mix for the children to hunt for at Christmas lunch. These days we wrap a coin or two in foil and add them to the mix before steaming. Note: please take care with small children and ensure all are aware of the game.

MAKES 3 PUDDINGS

450g (1 lb) brown bread crumbs
115g (4oz) atora shredded suet
225g (8oz) each of currants, sultanas, raisins
1tsp nutmeg
65g (2oz) mixed peel
175g (6oz) dark sugar (not demerara)
1 tsp salt
60g (2oz) ground almonds
225g (8oz) grated raw carrots
225g (8oz) prunes
Rind & juice of 1 lemon and 1 orange
3 large eggs
Good glass of brandy (1/4 pint)

Mix all the dry ingredients together, beat the eggs and add to the mixture. Leave until the next morning then stir in the brandy (have a drink for luck!).

Grease pudding basins, add mixture, cover tops with foil and steam for 8 hours (the longer you steam the darker the puds) in a steamer or large saucepan (see below).

Take foil covers off and when quite cold cover with greaseproof paper and recover with foil.

Store in a cool place - they will keep for at least 2 years.

On Christmas Day steam the pudding again using a steamer or a large saucepan with an upturned saucer at the bottom of the pan to protect the bowl from the intense heat. Make sure the water comes halfway up the sides of the pudding basin but not high enough that the water can get inside the foil. Steam for 1-2 hours. To check if the pudding is cooked insert a skewer through the foil and paper to check if it comes
out clean.