This deliciously spiced, moist and fruity, home-made Christmas pudding is really simple to make. The recipe is enough for 3 puddings and, if you can resist eating them all over the festive season, they do freeze really well.
To prepare the pudding basins, grease them really well and line the bottom of each one with a small square of greased greaseproof paper.
Mix together all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the brandy and brown ale.
Combine the fruit mixture with the egg mixture and stir well. Spoon equally into the prepared basins and cover each with a circle of greaseproof paper. Top each basin with a large square of pleated greaseproof paper and secure well with string. Make a handle with a double length piece of string and tie securely through both ends.
Place each pudding in a separate steamer or large saucepan with an upturned saucer inside, and pour in enough boiling water to come half-way up the sides of the basins.
Steam for 2-2½ hours, topping up with more boiling water when necessary. Remove and set aside to cool. Replace the greaseproof paper with fresh, ready for re-steaming, and store in a cool dry place.
On the day of serving, re-steam the pudding, as above, for 1-2 hours. Alternatively, pierce the greaseproof paper and re-heat in the microwave on full power for 2-2½ minutes, or until piping hot throughout.
Remove the greaseproof paper, place a plate on top of the basin and turn upside down. Shake the pudding gently to release onto the plate.
To flame, simply heat 2 tbs brandy in a small saucepan and light before pouring over the pudding immediately.