Preparing food for others is a great delight but one which I experience all too rarely. However, I make pretty good "Christmas pudding". I've put it into inverted commas because I'm not sure if, strictly speaking, it is a Christmas pudding as it has no currants and raisins but dried strawberries, blueberries, cranberries and sour cherries. No-one complains though.
I eat alone on Christmas Day but I make puddings for three families. I think they make great Christmas presents as there's nothing to store after the day!
Very Berry Christmas Pudding
100g (3½oz) sultanas
50g (2oz) each dried sour cherries, dried strawberries, dried cranberries and dried blueberries
50g (2oz) each ready-to-eat dried prunes, apricots and figs, roughly chopped
150ml liqueur, preferable fruity but brandy is good too.
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Butter for greasing
75g (3oz) shredded suet
50g (2oz) self-raising flour
125g (4oz) fresh breadcrumbs
½tsp each mixed spice and ground ginger
1tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch each of salt and freshly
75g (3oz) soft dark brown sugar
2tbsp black treacle
1 Cox's apple, grated
2 medium eggs, beaten
50g (2oz) pecans, chopped (optional)
1 Put the dried fruit, liqueur, lemon zest and juice into a non-metallic mixing bowl. Cover and leave to soak overnight. Lightly butter a 1 litre (1¾ pint) pudding basin and put in a cool place. I use reusable plastic bowls with lids.
2 The next day, put the soaked fruit into a large mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Mix together until well combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pudding basin, pushing it down firmly, and level the surface.
3 To cook, put the pudding in a slow cooker with water halfway up the basin. Cook for an hour on high then reduce to low for about ten hours. Store in a cool, dark place for up to three months.
4 On Christmas Day put it in a slow cooker for about four hours. You could microwave but using a slow cooker means less work just before serving and you could even cook it in the garage or other out-of-the-way spot meaning there’s one less thing in the kitchen. When I have one I cook it in my utility room.