If you want to include coins, but can't locate real silver coins, you can use any coin, wrapped in greaseproof paper (or silicone/baking paper). This will protect the coins from the effects of the fruit acids whilst the pudding is being stored. Just make sure the coin is wrapped carefully.
NEVER use aluminium foil directly in contact with the Christmas Pudding (not wrapping the pudding and not wrapping the coins). The reason? the fruit acids will rot the aluminium over time and produce aluminium salts, it looks unsightly and doesn't taste too good. Leaving foil in contact with the pudding temporarily will cause no harm (see paragraph below).
My preferred method of re-heating is simply to wrap slices in Aluminium foil and warmed in the oven, as your slices will vary in size, in a pre-warmed oven, about 10 minutes should be enough.
Adding marbles or pebbles helps!
NO, not to the recipe, but, I have been told if you add them to the pot, they will rattle noisily when the water is running dangerously low. PLEASE note, I haven't tried this, so, feedback from anyone who's used it sucessfully would be appreciated!
UPDATE; 24th April 2004, OK, I've tried this, they rattled all the time, my conclusion is that when the pot runs DRY, they stop rattling.... but I wasn't going to test my theory and ruin my pudding!
If you have bought a piece of suet from the butcher, you need to pick through the suet to remove any of the membranes (they look like transparent sheets of plastic). whilst you are doing that, if there are any bits of blood, please remove those also. This should only take a few minutes, and it doesn't need to be perfect, there will always be a few bits of membrane, and a few pink bits in the suet, this is fine. Note; (thanks Simone) do NOT render the suet, and yes, chilled it is easier to grate, frozen is probably best, but, it is quite cold on the fingers!
I know I have mentioned it before, but, with this amount of ingredients, it's easy to miss one, even if you took them all out of the cupboard!
Try to measure all the ingredients before you start, and put them in front of you in order if possible. I can confess to you, I have missed ingredients, then looked on the bench, and cried out "oh no!"
Sender's Name: Luke
Message: Pyromaniac improvements;
dissolve sugar in the brandy before warming / igniting. This acts as added fuel and keeps the flame going for much longer - if you use a metal spoon to scoop the flaming liquid from the plate back on to the top of the pudding then it is perfectly possible to do the traditional circumnavigation of the dining table with the flaming pud before serving (all due caution encouraged and liabilities disclaimed, of course).
We will be re-establishing a family tradition of pud making with my own children tomorrow - I seem to remember leaving the puddings for up to a year. thanks for the recipe.