• butter, for greasing
  • 750 g (1½ lb) mixed luxury dried fruit (with larger fruits diced)
  • 50 g (2 oz) pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
  • 25 g (1 oz) glacé or stem ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 dessert apple, peeled, cored and coarsely grated
  • grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
  • grated rind and juice of 1 orange
  • 4 tablespoons brandy
  • 50 g (2 oz) soft dark muscovado sugar
  • 50 g (2 oz) self-raising flour
  • 75 g (3 oz) breadcrumbs
  • 100 g (3½ oz) vegetable suet
  • 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons brandy, to serve (optional)

Preheat the slow cooker if necessary; see the manufacturer's instructions. Check that a 1.5 litre (2½ pint) pudding basin will fit inside your slow cooker pot with a little room to spare, then butter the inside of the basin and base-line with a circle of nonstick baking paper.

Put the dried fruit, nuts, ginger and grated apple into a large bowl. Add the fruit rinds and juice and brandy and mix together well. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Spoon into the buttered basin, pressing down well as you go. Cover with a large circle of nonstick baking paper, then a piece of foil. Tie with string and add a string handle.

Lower into the slow cooker pot, using foil straps (see page 15) and pour boiling water into the pot to come two-thirds up the sides of the basin. Cover with the lid and cook on high for 7–8 hours. Check halfway through cooking and top up with extra boiling water if needed. Take out of the slow cooker and leave to cool.

Cover with fresh foil, leaving the baking paper in place. Retie with string and keep in a cool place for 2 months or until Christmas.

When ready to serve, preheat the slow cooker if needed, add the pudding and boiling water as above and reheat on high for 2–2½ hours. Remove the foil and paper, loosen the pudding and turn out. Warm the brandy in a saucepan, if using. When it is just boiling, flame with a taper and quickly pour over the pudding. Serve with brandy butter or cream.

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