"Without a doubt this is one of the best puddings I've ever tasted," says Strode. "My mother-in-law, Ronda, makes hers in September to let the flavour mature. This really is as traditional as it gets." You'll need a piece of calico for this recipe - it's available from most fabric shops and select kitchenware shops. Begin this recipe at least two weeks ahead.
- 250 gm each sultanas and raisins
- 190 gm currants
- 180 gm mixed peel
- 150 ml brandy
- 250 gm crustless sourdough (about 1 loaf)
- 300 gm (2 cups) plain flour, sieved
- 280 gm butter, softened
- 400 gm brown sugar
- 6 eggs
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp sweet quatre-épices (see note)
- 500 ml (2 cups) milk
- 500 ml (2 cups) pouring cream
- 2 vanilla beans, split and seeds scraped
- 240 gm egg yolks (about 12 eggs)
- 200 gm caster sugar
- 1Combine dried fruit, peel, 100ml brandy, lemon juice and rind in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and stand at room temperature to macerate (overnight).
- 2Preheat oven to 150C. Tear sourdough into small pieces, place on a baking tray and bake in oven until dry (14-18 minutes). Cool briefly, then process in a food processor to fine crumbs.
- 3Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and, using tongs, dip a 65cm-square piece of calico into it, then lift cloth out and wring out excess water. Place calico flat on a work surface and rub 100gm flour over it to form a 38cm-diameter round, ensuring there are no holes or gaps (this is important as it creates a seal for the pudding which prevents spoilage).
- 4Bring an extra-large saucepan of water to the boil. Beat butter and sugar in an electric mixer until combined, then add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Stir in fruit mixture, remaining flour, breadcrumbs and spices, combining well. Place cloth in a shallow mixing bowl flour-side up with cloth overhanging the edges, then transfer pudding mixture to cloth. Draw ends of cloth up evenly and tie firmly with string, pulling cloth to make pudding as round as possible. Suspend pudding in a saucepan of boiling water so it doesn’t touch the bottom and ensure it’s fully submerged, cover with a lid and boil, adding boiling water regularly to keep pudding covered, for 6 hours. Drain pudding and hang in a sunny position for about half a day until cloth is dry, then refrigerate in cloth and wrapped in a dry tea towel for at least 2 weeks and preferably 1-3 months, changing tea towels occasionally.
- 5For orange custard, bring milk, cream, vanilla beans and seeds and orange peel to the boil in a saucepan. Meanwhile, whisk yolks and sugar in an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Pour milk mixture over yolks, whisking to combine, then transfer to a clean saucepan and stir continuously over low heat until mixture coats the back of a spoon (20-25 minutes). Pass through a fine sieve into a bowl placed over ice, cool briefly, then refrigerate until chilled (2 hours).
- 6To serve, reheat pudding in a large stockpot of boiling water (2 hours). Remove from calico, pour remaining brandy over and carefully light. Serve warm with chilled orange custard.
Note Sweet quatre-épices is a spice blend mix of allspice, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon. It's available from Herbies, or you can make your own.
Drink Suggestion: A classic Australian pairing would be sparkling shiraz from the Barossa Valley, such as the Rockford “Black” Shiraz. It’s lovely and juicy with plenty of spice and a savoury finish. Otherwise try something fresher like the Mas Blanc Banyuls “Collita”, a fortified red wine from the Roussillon region in France. Drink suggestion by Franck Moreau
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