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Boiled Christmas Pudding

250 g raisins, (1 1/2 cups) chopped
250 g sultanas, (1 1/2 cups)
185 g currants, (1 cup)
185 g mixed peel, (3/4 cup)
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons brandy
250 g butter
500 g brown sugar, (2 cups) firmly packed
5 eggs
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
250 g stale breadcrumbs, (4 cups) lightly packed

Combine fruit, rind, juice and brandy in large bowl, mix well.
Cover, stand overnight or up to a week. Beat butter and sugar in
large bowl with electric mixer only until combined. Beat in eggs
one at a time, beat only until combined between each addition. Add
creamed mixture to fruit mixture, sifted dry ingredients and
breadcrumbs; mix well. Boil pudding for 6 hours.

Dip prepared pudding cloth into boiling water; use rubber gloves
to protect hands, wring excess water from cloth. Have 1/3 cup plain
flour close to cloth. Spread hot cloth out on bench, quickly rub
flour into cloth to cover an area about 38cm in diameter, leave
flour thicker in centre of the cloth, where the skin will need to
be the thickest. Place cloth on bench, place mixture in centre of
cloth. Gather ends of cloth together, hold pudding up, pat into
shape with hand. Tie pudding securely with string, as close to
the pudding mixture as possible. Tie loop in string to make pudding
easier to lift from the water. Pull ends of cloth tightly to make
sure pudding is as round as possible. Have ready a large boiler
three-quarters full of rapidly boiling water. Gently and quickly
lower pudding into water, quickly replace lid, boil rapidly for
specified cooking time. Replenish boiler with water as it evaporates;
a tight-fitting lid will minimize evaporation of water. It is also
a good idea to weight the lid with a brick or something similar.
There must be enough water in the boiler for the pudding to move
freely and the water should be deep enough for the pudding to float
at all times. After required cooking time, use handle of wooden
spoon to lift pudding from water; place handle through looped
string. Lift carefully but quickly from water; do not put pudding
down as it is too soft at this stage. Suspend pudding from a drawer
or a cupboard handle.

It is important that the pudding can swing freely without touching
anything. Twist ends of cloth around supporting string to keep
wet ends away from pudding. If pudding has been cooked correctly,
the cloth will begin to dry out in patches within a few minutes.
Leave pudding to dry overnight. Next day, when pudding is cold,
remove from handle, cut string, loosen cloth away from top of
pudding, scrape away any excess flour, leave at room temperature
for a day or so (time will depend on humidity of the weather) or
until the cloth is completely dry around the top of the pudding.
Tie pudding cloth again with string, place pudding in airtight
plastic bag, and refrigerate until required.

To serve pudding hot : Remove pudding from refrigerator about 12
hours before it is to be reheated. Prepare for reheating the pudding
about 3 hours before it is to be served. Have large boiler
three-quarters full of boiling water, gently lower pudding into
boiler, boil for 1 to 2 hours depending on the size of the pudding.
Suspend hot pudding for 10 minutes, tuck ends of cloth into string,
away from top of pudding. Have serving plate and scissors ready.
Place pudding on bench, near to plate, cut string quickly, gently
ease cloth away from pudding until about a quarter of the pudding
is uncovered. Using a towel to protect hands, gently invert pudding
onto serving plate; slowly and gently pull cloth away.

Leave pudding further 20 minutes before cutting. The longer the
pudding is left standing, the darker the skin will become.

To serve pudding cold : Reheat pudding the day it is to be served.
Proceed as above, then leave pudding to become completely cold,
this will take at least 12 hours; cover with plastic food wrap,
refrigerate pudding; or the cloth can be removed after the initial
cooking. Allow the hot pudding to hang for 10 minutes then remove
the cloth as instructed above. This is also the best method if a
new cloth is to be used to give the pudding away as a gift. In this
case, let the pudding become cold, then use a cold, dry, unfloured
cloth, tie in position around pudding as instructed above.


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