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Christmas pudding with brandy-vanilla custard sauce

    • Method
    • Notes
    1. Step 1

      To make the pudding: In a large bowl, mix the currants, sultanas, prunes, candied orange peel, fresh orange peel, lemon peel, cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, and cloves. Stir in 1 cup of the rum. Stand for 30 minutes.

    2. Step 2

      Stir the breadcrumbs, brown sugar, flour, and salt into the dried fruit mixture. Cover and stand at room temperature for at least 12 hours or overnight.

    3. Step 3

      Generously coat a 2-litre pudding mold with a lid with 1 tablespoon of the room temperature butter. Stir the almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, and baking powder into the soaked fruit mixture. In a medium bowl, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup melted butter, eggs, and milk to blend, and then stir this mixture into the fruit mixture. Spoon the batter into the prepared pudding mold and smooth the top. Cover the pudding mold with the lid.

    4. Step 4

      Place the pudding mold on a rack in a large pot. If you don’t have a rack, invert a small wide bowl and place it in the pot, then set the pudding mold on the bowl. Add enough boiling water to the pot to come halfway up the sides of the mold. Cover the pot and simmer gently and steam the pudding over medium-low heat for about 2 hours, or until a tester inserted into the centre comes out clean, adding more boiling water to the pot if necessary. Transfer the mold to a rack and cool 5 minutes. Turn out the pudding onto a cake plate.

    5. Step 5

      Meanwhile, to make the custard sauce: In a heavy large saucepan, heat the cream and milk to a near simmer over medium-high heat. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add them to the cream-milk mixture; add the vanilla bean.

    6. Step 6

      In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow and thick. Gradually whisk in the hot cream mixture. Return the mixture to the same saucepan and stir over medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon (do not allow the mixture to simmer or get hotter than 79°C). Remove from the heat and pour the sauce into a bowl. Cool slightly, stirring often, for about 8 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until cold or serve it warm.

    7. Step 7

      Mix the brandy into the sauce and season to taste with nutmeg.

    8. Step 8

      To serve: Following tradition, you can flambé the brandy, if desired. To do this, be sure to place the warm pudding in a well-ventilated place and away from any flammable material. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons rum over the pudding or form an indentation in the center of the warm pudding and pour the brandy into the indentation. Using a long match, carefully ignite the brandy and allow the flames to burn off before serving.

    9. Step 9

      Serve the pudding warm with the custard sauce.

    Tip: If you do not have a pudding mould, substitute a 2 litre basin. Butter the basin and line the bottom with buttered baking paper. Spoon the batter into the bowl. Cover with a round of buttered baking paper then cover tightly with foil. Use potholders to lift the bowl out of the pot.

    Make-Ahead: The pudding can be made 2 weeks ahead. Cool. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate. To reheat the pudding, unwrap and return it to the buttered mold. Cover and steam the pudding over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes, or until heated through. Transfer the mold to a rack and let stand 5 minutes. Turn out the pudding onto a plate. The custard sauce can be made 2 days ahead, covered and refrigerated.