- 150g dried figs
- 150g fresh dates
- 100g dried cranberries
- 100g raisins
- 200g demerara sugar
- 3 tbsp brandy or rum (or whisky or armanac)
- Zest and juice of 2 oranges
- 75g fresh white breadcrumbs
- 75g plain flour
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- 50g almonds, finely chopped
- 100g butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 large eggs, beaten
1. Snip the dried fruit into small pieces, the size of a raisin (clearly you don't have to do this for the actual raisins!). A pair of sturdy kitchen scissors works a treat here. Place all the dried fruit into a large bowl. Add the sugar. Pour over the brandy, orange juice and zest, mix well and cover. Leave overnight, or for at least 6 hours (at room temperature) so all the liquid absorbs and the sugar begins to dissolve.
2. Then, tip all of that into a large mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Make sure the butter is soft but not oily. Beat until smooth.
3. Generously butter a 1lt pudding basin. Line the bottom with buttered foil. Spoon the mixture into the prepared bowl. Cover with a pleated piece of buttered foil (the fold in the foil allows for expansion) with the buttered side towards the pudding. Push the foil down around the edges of the basin and tie in place with kitchen (or box) string, so no steam can escape. Make a string handle so it's easier to lift it all out of the pan.
4. Place the basin in a steamer above water or stand on a rack in a saucepan. Pour water into the pan so that it comes half way up the basin. Bring to the boil. Lower the temperature and simmer for 6 hours for a light pudding or 8 hours for a darker one. Check the water level now and then as it may need to be topped up.
5. Allow the pudding to cool completely. Replace the foil with a new piece. Bung in the fridge or freezer until needed. Thaw completely before reheating. To reheat the pudding, steam or simmer in water for about 1 hour until piping hot. Turn out on to a plate and serve with brandy butter.