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Festive Foods: Australian Traditional Christmas Pudding

Right now, while we're all bundled up and cozy, everyone south of the equator is shedding off layers and celebrating summer. In fact, Christmas Day in Australia can often reach temperatures near 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

So while we're inside stuffing ourselves to keep warm, our friends in Australia are headed to the beach, gathering around the Christmas Bush (a native plant with red flowering leaves) and snacking down on Christmas pudding. To make your own version of a traditional Australian Christmas pudding,

Australian Traditional Christmas Pudding

1/2 pound plain flour
1/2 pound breadcrumbs
1 pound butter
1 pound brown sugar
1 pound currants
1/2 pound raisins
1 pound sultanas
1/2 pound citron peel
9 eggs
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup brandy
1/4 pound almonds
1/2 teaspoon all spice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, well beaten, also brandy. Stir in all fruit and chopped blanched almonds. Add breadcrumbs, flour, soda, and spices. Bake in greased pudding basin, leaving sufficient room for rising. (The pudding can also be poured onto a piece of calico and tied securely with string.) Steam for 6 hours.

This pudding can be made ahead of time, say two or three months if wished. This recipe makes two very large puddings; It is best divided into 3 portions. A half quantity takes 3 1/2 hours to cook. For heating pudding when required, boil slowly for 2-3 hours.

During the Australian gold rush days, it was tradition to put a gold nugget into the mix. These days a small surprise (you choose!) can be put inside instead. Whoever finds it is supposed to be blessed with good luck. Just let your guests know before hand, so they don't bite down and break a tooth!

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