​Christmas pudding

This recipe is light and moist with just the right amount of sweetness
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Too often Christmas puddings are either too stodgy, too sweet, too dry or just not up to scratch. This, on the other hand, is one of the best Christmas puddings you'll encounter. 
Makes four 500g puddings
Each will serve 4–6 people
* butter for greasing
* 225g breadcrumbs (fresh or from day-old bread)
* 225g suet
* 115g bramley apples, peeled, cored and grated
* 115g carrots, peeled and grated
* 1 teaspoon mixed spice
* 30g plain flour
* 3 medium eggs
For the soaked fruits:
* 225g sultanas
* 225g raisins
* 225g currants
* 30g candied orange peel
* 30g candied lemon peel
* 225g light brown sugar
* 225ml Guinness
* 115ml brandy
To serve
3–4 tablespoons chopped candied peel (optional)

1. Put all the dried fruits, candied peel and sugar into a large bowl and pour over the Guinness and brandy. Cover the bowl tightly with cling film and leave the fruits to macerate overnight.
2. The next day, find a pan that is large enough to fit four 500g heatproof plastic pudding moulds for steaming. Bring a kettle of water to the boil. Generously butter the pudding moulds and their matching lids.
3. Put the breadcrumbs, suet, apples, carrots, mixed spice and flour in a large mixing bowl and stir together. Make a well in the centre.

4. Lightly beat the eggs and pour into the well. Add the soaked fruits with any soaking alcohol left in the bowl and fold together until the mixture is well combined. It should be quite wet. If your mixture appears a little dry, add a little splash of brandy and fold through.
5. Divide the mixture among the prepared pudding moulds. Level the tops, then cover with the buttered lids. To make sure that the moulds are watertight, cover each one tightly with cling film.

6. Lower the pudding moulds into the pan, then pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the moulds. Cover the pan with a lid and steam over medium heat for five hours, making sure to check the water level in the pan from time to time (you may need to top up with more boiling water from the kettle).

7. When the time is up, carefully lift the pudding moulds out of the pan and leave them to cool completely, still covered. Then remove all the cling film and keep the puddings in a cool, dry place until you want to serve them.
8. To serve each pudding, reheat by steaming for two hours. Take off the lid and turn out on to a cake plate. Garnish the top of the pudding with a spoonful of chopped candied peel, then flame with brandy or vodka, if you wish. Serve immediately, with crème anglaise or ice cream.

More from Social Sweet: Extract taken from Social Sweets, published by Absolute, £25.00, Hardback. Photography © John Carey. For further recipes visit www.cooked.co.uk 

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