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Christmas Pudding With Vanilla-Bean Custard



Sift the flour and spices into a large bowl.
Add the sugars, breadcrumbs, apple, carrot, dried and candied fruits, nuts, grated orange and lemon rind.
Stir together until well mixed.
Place the remaining ingredients, except butter, in another bowl.
Melt the butter, add to liquid ingredients and beat together.
Pour onto dry ingredients and stir thoroughly.
Cover and set aside overnight.
The next day, stir again, then place in the well-buttered pudding basin.
Cover with baking paper, make a pleat in the centre, tie with string and cover with foil.
Place in a large saucepan with water halfway up the sides.
Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and steam for four hours.
(Top up water when necessary.
) Set aside to cool, then refrigerate overnight.
To make the custard, place milk and cream in a saucepan.
Split the vanilla beans, scrape seeds.
Add the seeds and beans to pan.
Bring to the boil then remove from heat and set aside for 10 minutes to infuse.
Place sugar, egg yolks and cornflour in a bowl and whisk until pale and creamy.
Add to milk mixture and cook, stirring, over low heat until thickened.
Strain custard, discarding vanilla beans.
Cover with plastic wrap.
Add brandy just before serving.
Re-steam pudding for two hours, and rest for 10 minutes before turning out on a plate.
Serve with warm custard.