This Christmas pudding is jam packed with delicious fruit and nuts. It is simple and can be prepared a month or two before Christmas to ease your preparations around this busy time, or if you prefer just 2 days in advance. The warm vanilla-bean custard can be made on the day. Serves 10. Toast your Christmas with a glass of the Tallis Sparkling Shiraz 2006 for a very Australian Christmas. You will need a 7-cup capacity pudding basin
Ingredients 50g plain flour 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg 1 tsp ground mixed spice 50g brown sugar 50g dark brown sugar 100g fresh white breadcrumbs 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated 1 carrot, peeled and finely grated 175g currants 225g sultanas 250g seedless raisins 100g candied peel, cut into 1/2 cm cubes 75g dried apricots, cut into 1/2 cm cubes 75g pitted prunes, cut in 1/2 cm cubes 75g glace cherries, roughly chopped 100g blanched almonds, finely chopped 2 tsp finely grated orange rind 2 tsp finely grated lemon rind 1 tbs treacle 1 tbs orange juice 1 tbs lemon juice 1 tbs brandy 85ml Guinness or stout 2 eggs 100g (5 tbs) unsalted butter
Vanilla-bean custard 250ml (1 cup) milk 250ml (1 cup) thick cream 2 vanilla beans 50g caster sugar 6 egg yolks 2 tsp cornflour 2-3 tbs brandy (optional)
1. Sift the flour and spices into a large bowl. Add the sugars, breadcrumbs, apple, carrot, dried and candied fruits, nuts, grated orange and lemon rind. Stir together until well mixed. 2. Place the remaining ingredients, except butter, in another bowl. Melt the butter, add to liquid ingredients and beat together. Pour onto dry ingredients and stir thoroughly. 3. Cover and set aside overnight. 4. The next day, stir again, and then place in the well-buttered pudding basin. Cover with baking paper, make a pleat in the centre, tie with string and cover with foil. Place in a large saucepan with water halfway up the sides. Bring to the boil, and then reduce the heat to low and steam for four hours. (Top up water when necessary.) Set aside to cool, then refrigerate overnight. If the pudding is not being used immediately, wrap thoroughly in plastic wrap and leave in a cool, dark place. 5. When the pudding is required, re-steam the pudding for two hours, and rest for 10 minutes before turning out onto a plate. 6. To make the custard, place milk and cream in a saucepan. Split the vanilla beans, scrape seeds. Add the seeds and beans to pan. Bring to the boil then remove from heat and set aside for 10 minutes to infuse. 7. Place sugar, egg yolks and cornflour in a bowl and whisk until pale and creamy. Add to milk mixture and cook, stirring, over low heat until thickened. Strain custard, discarding vanilla beans. Cover with plastic wrap. Add brandy just before serving.