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I've made this 3 times for Christmas and each time it went down a treat. This is a lovely version as it's not a dry cake and you modify the ingredients depending on what you have on hand. Ingredients in bold show the items where the quantites can't be altered. The rest can depending upon your tastes.
December 2008: I made this again and got even more compliments :)
500g - 750g Sultanas
100g Mixed Fruit [Peel]
6 Dried Dates, Roughly Chopped
Small Handlful Glace Cherries, Roughly Chopped
1/4 - 1/2 Cup Brandy
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 1/2 Cups Fresh Bread Crumbs
1/4 Cup Almond Meal
1/4 Cup Hazelnut Meal
1/2 Dark Choc Bits
1 Cup Plain White Flour [really does need to be White Flour]
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Mixed Spices
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Essence
1/2 Teaspoon Bi-Carb Soda
1/2 Block of mixed White and Dark Best Quality Cooking Chocolate, Roughly Chopped.
2L Pudding Basin [Can be any large deep ceramic or pyrex bowl as long as it has a lip around the edge to tie string around]
Small Wire Rack [I found this at a 2 dollar shop for literally $2]
Electric mixer [hand held is fine. You can pick them up for under $20 at Woolies]
Large deep pan. [place the Pudding Basin in the pan with the Wire Rack and if you can close the lid it will work fine]
Combine the Sultanas, Mixed Fruit [Peel], Dates, Cherries and Brandy in a bowl. Cover and let stand for a minimum of 30 minutes. For best results, let stand overnight.
Beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy, beat in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. NB: The egg and sugar may seperate. I found if I just kept beating on the highest speed that it eventually started to come back together again. It won't be perfect but it will do.
Stir in the fruit, breadcrumbs, almond and hazelnut meal, dark choc bits, mixed white and dark chocolate, bi-card soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, mixed spices, vanilla essence and sifted plain flour. Mix well with a spoon.
Spoon in to a greased 2L (8 cup) pudding basin. Cover the basin with baking paper, aluminimum foil, then cover with a tight fitting lid OR tie string around the outside edge to hold the layers down.
Place a small wire rack in the base of a large deep pan. Place pudding on rack, pour in enough water to come up 1/4 - 1/2 way up the sides of the basin. Cover pan with lid, let simmer 2 - 3 hours making sure that the pan does not boil dry by adding more what when running low.
Remove from pan and let cool. Cover and refridgerate until ready to serve. On day of serving, place back in pan with rack and boil for 2 hours to re-heat and rehydrate, turn out and serve with cream or custard.
Serves 8 comfortably.