This recipe is based on Margaret Fulton's rich Christmas pudding in the Margaret Fulton Cookbook. You will need to begin this recipe a day ahead.
If you're not partial to plum pudding then spare a thought for those who had to partake of its earliest incarnation, plum porridge. Essentially a savoury oatmeal meat broth, thickened with breadcrumbs, flavoured with spices and sweetened with prunes (dried plums). These became so popular, that soon any dried fruit became known as plums, hence the plum pudding which doesn't contain any plums. It assumed the position of Christmas pudding during Victorian times as we know it today, retaining only the suet of its savoury predecessor.
Much tradition and folklore is attached to the Christmas pudding. Traditionally each member of the family takes a turn stirring the mixture in a clockwise direction, making a secret wish as they go. Many people also bake lucky treats into their puddings. Often they're silver coins, but in some antique shops you may come across special silver charms that were reserved for this purpose, their different shapes indicating the fortune of the finder.
The pudding was usually made up to a year ahead and left to mature, and then heated up on Christmas Day and brought to the table flaming with warm brandy and decorated with holly. Custard and ice-cream are winning accompaniments, but it can also be served with cream or brandy butter.