Serves 3 x 900ml (1 1/2 pint) basin puddings
STEP 1Place the flour, breadcrumbs, ground almonds, sugar, suet, dried fruits, Spices and salt into a large mixing bowl. Mix them together thoroughly. Beat eggs in a separate basin. Add eggs, fruit zest and juice, the brandy and brown ale to the ingredients in the bowl. Stir the mixture very well, ensuring that the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
STEP 2Grease three 900ml (1½ pint) pudding basins. Fill them with the mixture to within 2.5cm (1’’) of the top. Cover each basin with a circle of greaseproof paper, folded and tucked to allow for expansion of the puddings. Cover the paper with an 45.5cm (18’’) square of muslin or foil. Tie a length of string several times around the basin to secure the covers. Knot opposite ends of the muslin over the top of the basin.
STEP 3Place the puddings in a steamer or stand them in covered saucepans of boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the basins. Steam them for 6 hours, topping up the water if necessary.
STEP 4Allow the puddings to cool. Remove the muslin or foil covers and replace them with clean ones. Store in a dry, cool place. It is not necessary to freeze the puddings.
STEP 5Steam the puddings for 3 hours before serving decorated with a sprig of holly and accompanied by brandy butter, brandy sauce or cream.