The dried fruit notes in this balsamic syrup hit a serious high in this pudding.

Alex Mackay is a cook, a teacher, a writer, a cooking with kids enthusiast and a regular on cookery television. Here Alex shares his recipe for Christmas pud.

Rich, sweet, sticky, surprising and sublime, the dried fruit notes in this balsamic syrup hit a serious high in this pudding. Steaming the puddings in your oven makes life a lot easier, as you don’t have to watch it or top up the water. I found this technique to give a better, lighter pudding too. You will also need greaseproof paper.


Prep ahead: The puddings can be prepared at least 1 month ahead. Reheat in a steamer for 30 minutes.

Prep / Cooking: 4 hours | Active Time: 40 minutes | Serves 12-16 (2x 1 litre pudding moulds)

INGREDIENTS

60g soft butter
200g raisins
200g dried figs, chopped to the size of the raisins
200g sultanas
200g light brown sugar
200g wholemeal breadcrumbs
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon (4tbsp)
Grated zest and juice 1 orange (6-7 tbsp)
200g vegetable suet
1 Bramley apple (about 300g) peeled and grated
2 tsp cinnamon
150g candied peel
100ml Merchant Gourmet balsamic syrup
2 tbsp dried Cranberries and holly to garnish
As much brandy as you fancy

METHOD

1. Pre-Heat your oven to 200c/400f /Gas 6/Middle Shelf.

2. First grease your pudding moulds generously with butter then put a circle of greaseproof paper in the base. Don’t skip the paper, it makes the puddings so much easier to get out and make sure that the puddings are well buttered so that they come out easily.

3. Next get a large bowl. Add all of the ingredients up to the dried cranberries. Mix them together well. Fill the moulds. Cover the top with a circle of buttered greaseproof paper. Cover the paper, not too tightly, with tin foil.

4. Half fill a deep roasting tray with hot water. Put the pudding moulds into it. Cover the whole tray with foil. Put the tray onto the middle shelf of your oven.

5. Steam for 3 hours and 20 minutes. Remove the puddings from the oven. Let the puddings sit for at least 5 minutes. Remove and discard the foil and paper from the top.

6. Away from the heat; cover the top of each pudding with a large plate. Next, make sure you’ve got a good grip on both pudding and plate, then flip it over. Be brave, it is when you stop half way that you have problems. Put the plate onto your worktop. Gently lift off the pudding moulds and you should have a wonderful reward for your patience.

7. Remove and discard the circles of greaseproof paper. Garnish the pudding with cranberries and holly.

8. If you’d like a little fire and drama, carefully warm a ladle full of brandy, being extremely careful when you get to the table, hold the ladle over the top of the pudding, facing slightly away from you. Light the brandy using a very long firelighter and quickly pour it over your pudding. Serve with custard and whipped cream, if you like.

1 December 2013