A Christmas Pudding Recipe is most flavorful made ahead of time, preferably up to a month so the flavors will mature.
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Using a large mixing bow hop the dried apples, pears and figs into small chunks. Mix with the raisins, currants and sultanas and soak overnight in the ale, rum or whisky and freshly squeezed orange and lemon juices. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to soak overnight.
Brew a pot of tea. Pour the tea into a bowl. Chop the 3 ounces of prunes into the brewed tea and leave to soak overnight.
Drain the tea from the soaked prunes and add them to the soaked dried fruit mixture.
Mash the banana. Grate the apple, include the skin with a fine grater. Stir the mashed banana and grated apple into the dried fruit mixture.
Using a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy with an electric beater.
Add the citrus rinds and treacle, then beat in the eggs one at a time.
Fold in the sifted flour, spices and a pinch of salt, then add the dried fruit with all its soaking liquor.
Stir, then add the breadcrumbs, mixed peel and nuts.
Put the mixture in a greased 1.8 litre (3 pint) pudding bowl.
Cut out two large rectangles of parchment paper; lay one over the other, cut a sheet of aluminum foil the same size and put on top of the parchment paper. Keeping the layers together, make a pleat across the middle. Hold this in place as you put the cover over the bowl with the pudding in it. Fold the papers down on all the sides, creating a snug cover and tie it tightly in place with kitchen string.
Next tie extra kitchen string around the outsides, creating handles on the sides of the pudding bowl so you can lift the pudding pot in and out of the pan. Double or triple the string so it will be strong enough to lift the pudding bowl. Trim the paper/foil top evenly around the bowl to 1 1/2 inches below the string.
Put an old plate unside down onto the bottom of a large pot.
Put the pudding basin, with its tied on parchment foil top and string handles all in place, onto the upside down plate and fill with water coming a third of the way up the pudding basin. This parchment foil cover must not touch the water during cooking. Cover and steam for eight hours, topping up the boiling water as necessary from time to time.
Once the pudding has steamed for the alloted time, remove from the cooking pot, remove the covering and replace with a fresh aluminum foil on top. Let cool to room temperature, then put into the refrigerator.
Keep the cooked pudding refrigerated. Every 2 days drizzle a couple tablespoonfuls of whisky and/or rum onto the pudding,including the day of serving the Christmas Pudding.
On the day of serving, cover the pudding basin with pleated greaseproof paper and foil in the same way as before and steam for two hours to warm through. Recommended time for for full flavor is to prepare the pudding one month ahead of eating.