And speaking of beer, I seem to have struck up something of a passing relationship with my local brewery here in Gloucester, called, naturally enough, Gloucester Brewery. They have kindly allowed me to pick up an occasional bag of their spent brewery grains which my cows pigs and chickens absolutely love, and whilst I'm doing that, I get to pop in and have a look around their newly revamped shop on Gloucester Quays. It's in one of the many wonderful old buildings on the quay, and has been done up very sensitively and in keeping with the old vaults. It must have cost quite a bit, and the work has been going on for some time now, but the end result is really good. I generally take them in a few of my free range eggs in return for the spent grains, which I hope they like. So today finding myself in need of the aforementioned dark full flavoured beer, I bought a bottle of this Dockside Dark
with (it says on the label) "coffee chocolate and subtle sweetness". It's just perfect for Christmas pudding, so I might make an extra one for the guys down there as a small thank you. Mind you, I'm not sure how pleased they'll be - although I love it, I know that traditional Christmas pudding isn't everyone's thing. Still it's the thought that counts!
About a pound/450 grams of mixed dried fruit, about half currants and the rest sultanas and finely chopped ready to eat prunes.
Zest and juice of 1 lemon and 1 orange
1 teaspoon of mixed spice
half a teaspoon of cinnamon and nutmeg
6 ounces/150 grams of dark brown muscovado sugar
1 tablespoon of black treacle
a glug of rum or brandy
2 ounces/50 gr ground almonds
3 ounces75 gr plain flour
6 ounces/100 gr shredded suet
Around half a pint/250ml of sweetish sherry and dark beer such as Dockside Dark 50:50 mix
1 medium cooking apple such as Bramley, grated, I never bother peeling but you can if you like.
Soak the dried fruits in the sherry and beer mix overnight or longer. Add all the other ingredients and stir well.Everyone in the family should get to have a stir, and make a wish.
Add your family heirloom charms or coins cleaned with an overnight vinegar soak. Turn into a large pudding basin or two smaller ones.. Cover and steam for at least six hours. Allow to cool and store until Christmas day when you will need to steam again for a couple of hours. Or if you're pushed for hob space on the day just use the microwave to reheat for a couple of minutes or so when you're ready.