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PLUM PUDDING

1 1/2 cups dried currants
2 tsp. finely grated lemon peel
2 cups seedless raisins
1/2 lb. finely chopped beef suet
2 cups white raisins
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup finely chopped candied mixed fruit peel
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp. ground allspice
3/4 cup chopped candied cherries
1 cup blanched slivered almonds
1 medium sized tart cook apple, peeeled, quarter, cored and chopped
1 small carrot scraped and coarsely chopped
2 tbsp. finely grated orange peel
4 cups fresh soft crumbs, made from homemade-type white bread,
1 tsp. salt
6 eggs
1 cup brandy
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup brandy, for flaming (optional)

In a large, deep bowl, combine the currants, seedless raisins,
white raisins, candied fruit peel, cherries, almonds, apple, carrot,
orange and lemon peel, and beef suet, tossing them about with a
spoon or your hands until well mixed. Stir in the flour, bread
crumbs, brown sugar, allspice and salt.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until frother. Stir in the cup
of brandy, the orange and lemon juice, and pour this mixture over
the fruit mixture. Knead vigorously with both hands, then beat
with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients are blended. Drape
a dampended kitchen towel over the bowl and refrigerate for at
least 12 hours.

Spoon the mixture into four 1-quart English pudding basins or plain
molds, filling them to within 2 inches of their tops. Cover each
mold with a strip of buttered foil, turning the edges down and
pressing the foil tightly around the sides to secure it. Drape a
dampened kitchen towel over each mold and tie it in place around
the sides with a long piece of kitchen cord. Bring two opposite
corners of the towel up to the top and knot them in the center of
the mold; then bring up the remaining two corners and knot them
similarly.

Place the molds in a large pot and pour in enough boiling water to
come about three fourths of the way up their sides. Bring the
water to a boil over high heat, cover the pot tightly, redice the
heat to its lowest point and steam the puddings for 8 hours. As
the water in the steamer boils away, replenish it with additonal
boiling water.

When the puddings are done, remove them from the water and let them
cool to room temperature. Then remove the towels and foil and
recover the molds tightly with fresh foil. Refrigerate the puddings
for at least 3 weeks before serving. Plum puddings may be kept up
to a year in the refrigerator or other cool place; traditionally
they were often made a year in advance.

To serve, place the mold in a pot and pour in enough boiling water
to come about three fourths of the way up the sides of the mold.
Bring to a boil over high heat, cover the pot, reduce the heat to
low and steam for 2 hours. Run a knife around the inside edges of
the mold and place firmly together, turn them over. The pudding
should slide out easily.

Christmas pudding is traditionally accompanied by a hard sauce.
Small paper-wrapped coins (such as sixpenses and threepenny bits)
are sometimes pressed into the pudding as good luck pieces just
before it is served.

If you would like to set the pudding aflame before you serve it,
warm the 1/2 cup brandy in a small saucepan over low heat, ignit
it with a match and pour it flaming over the pudding.

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