This pudding is really best when made a year in advance and
allowed to mellow. It was customary to make it early in Advent
— the religious season before Christmas — and use it the following
year. Everyone in the family was supposed to stir the pudding
once for good luck. If you can't make it the year before,
at least give it a few weeks to age.
Fruit Mixture (to be made 4 days ahead)
1 pound seedless raisins
1 pound sultana raisins
1/2 pound currants
1 cup thinly sliced citron
1 cup chopped candied peel
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon mace
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound finely chopped suet (powdery fine)
1 1/4 cups cognac
1 1/4 pounds (approximately) fresh bread crumbs
1 cup scalded milk
1 cup sherry or port
12 eggs, well beaten
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Blend the fruits, citron, peel, spices and suet and place in
a bowl or jar. Add 1/4 cup cognac, cover tightly and refrigerate
for 4 days, adding 1/4 cup cognac each day.
Soak the bread crumbs in milk and sherry or port.
Combine the well-beaten eggs and sugar. Blend with the fruit mixture. Add
salt and mix thoroughly. Put the pudding in buttered bowls or
tins, filling them about 2/3 full. Cover with foil and tie it firmly.
Steam for 6-7 hours. Uncover and place in a 250 degree F oven for 30 minutes.
Add a dash of cognac to each pudding,
cover with foil and keep in a cool place.
To use, steam again for 2 to 3 hours and unmold. Sprinkle with
sugar; add heated cognac. Ignite and bring to the table.
Serve with hard sauce or cognac sauce.
Each pudding serves 12.
Source: House and Garden, December 1963 - James Beard