No wonder, as a child, I had nightmares.
This pudding is just as good and everyone thinks I make them in the old fashioned way. I must admit I have not been altogether truthful. However people have even told me that they know that they are made this way because they can taste the difference. Well I cheat, big confession, I make them in the microwave.
If I am organized I make them months in advance and freeze them but it doesn't matter if you don't. In fact I am starting mine today.
So first I put 450grams of mixed dried fruit in a glass or stainless steel bowl.
This 450grams is made up of whatever you prefer. Mine is made up of 250grams of mixed fruit, 80 grams of currants, 70grams of minced or finely chopped dried apricots and 50 grams of candied lemon peel. Then I pour over 1/2 cup of brandy and 1/2 cup of Port. Give it a good stir.
I cover the top tightly with plastic food wrap and leave in a cool place. Each day I will give it a good stir. If it has soaked up all the alcohol, I add a little more.
( my mother told me that every time my Dad passed the bowl he added more alcohol.). Her puddings were lethal! She ended up hiding them for this stage of this recipe.
Now I leave this for a week. The day I make the pudding I arrange for the family to be around and each person gives the mixture a stir and makes their Christmas wish. Those that cannot be here have been known to telephone and have me stir on their behalf whilst they make their wish. It's fun!
There is another tradition that I began when the children were small. As a child I remember finding silver threepence and sixpence coins in the pudding. It was very exciting but with the advent of decimal currency the coins could not be used. So I began putting a silver charm in my two daughters' slices just before I served them. The charm was always something to do with their interest or milestones that year. A silver music note when one learnt music, a silver tennis racquet when one took up tennis and so on. It has been a wonderful family tradition and the girls loved tracing their history of interests, hobbies and milestones on their bracelets.
See part two here: