This is a lovely gift to give as the recipient is presented with not only a home-made Christmas pudding, but a little mixing bowl too. Be sure to include instructions for reheating and if you also give the crème Anglaise be aware this has a much shorter shelf life and must be refrigerated.
300 grams dried figs
300 grams dried sour cherries, cranberries and blueberries
100 ml brandy
2-3 tablespoons marmalade
150 grams butter, softened plus extra for greasing
¾ cup brown sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup self-raising flour
½ cup fresh, soft breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon mixed spice
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of salt
200 ml milk
200 ml cream
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 1 vanilla bean
4 tablespoons caster sugar
One day before: Roughly chop the figs into evenly sized pieces and place with the other fruits in a large bowl. Pour over the brandy, add the marmalade and mix well to combine. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a cool place overnight.
The next day: Lightly grease 4 x 300 ml pudding basins with the extra butter, place a disc of greaseproof paper in the base of each, then set aside.
Using an electric beater, beat the butter and sugar in a very large mixing bowl until pale and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, one at time, until well combined. If the mixture begins to curdle, stir through a spoonful of the flour. Tip the soaked fruit and all of the soaking liquid into the egg mixture and stir to combine.
Sieve the flour and combine with the breadcrumbs, mixed spice, nutmeg and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir gently until well combined. Spoon the mixture evenly between the prepared bowls. Cover the pudding basins with a double layer of greaseproof or baking paper then a single layer of foil. Tie securely with string.
Prepare a steamer over a large pan of simmering water or line a heavy-based pan with a tea towel and steam the pudding for 1¼ - 1½ hours. Keep an eye on the water and top it up if necessary.
The puddings can be eaten at this stage or cooled completely and stored in a cool dark place for a couple of months. Re-steam the puddings for 30 minutes before serving or reheat in the microwave. Serve the puddings with crème Anglaise or vanilla ice cream.
Crème Anglaise: Put the milk, cream and vanilla paste in a small heavy-based saucepan and heat gently until just scalding. Remove from the heat and set aside. Place the eggs and sugar in a bowl that fits snugly over a pan of gently simmering water.
Using an electric hand mixer, beat until the mixture becomes thick and pale and the whisk leaves a trail when dragged through.
Stir continuously with a wooden spoon while slowly pouring in the hot cream mixture. Place the bowl over the pan of simmering water and cook over a gentle heat until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon.
Remove from the heat, cool and refrigerate until needed. Reheat gently and serve warm. It will keep, refrigerated, for 3-4 days.
Each pudding serves 2