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  • Christmas is a time for giving, and we've got a great Traditional Brandy Custard recipe to give to you. Our family has been using this traditional recipe for 50 years. We hope it becomes part of your family Christmas tradition for just as long!

    First things first, you'll need to cook your Christmas Pudding!

    Orange Eclipse Pudding - Perfect with Traditional Brandy Custard
    Orange Eclipse Pudding - Perfect with Traditional Brandy Custard

    Christmas Pudding Cooking Directions

    Stand your sealed pudding in a large saucepan with approximately 3cm of water in the base!

    Cover the pudding with a lid and simmer slowly for:

    • 60 mins - Large Pudding
    • 35 - 45 mins - Small Pudding

    Make sure you keep an eye on the water level and keep this topped up at 3cm throughout, otherwise the pudding container may melt in the saucepan.

    When you think the pudding is finished, use handle of wooden spoon to lift pudding from water and place on a plate. Wait around 10 minutes to let the temperature cool down as the container will be hot, then open the lid and get ready to serve

    Christmas Pudding Microwave Cooking Instructions

    We can only give rough guidelines for microwaving the pudding as every microwave is different, but first of all, loosen the top of the pudding basin.

    For an 800w oven microwave on full power for 4 minutes, stand for 3 minutes, microwave on low/defrost for 7 minutes then stand again for 5 minutes.

    Check that the pudding is piping hot all of the way through before turning ot out and serving it. If it is still cool in the middle then microwave on full power, in 1 minute bursts and then standing for 1 minute, until hot.

    Traditional Brandy Custard Recipe

    Whilst the pudding is cooking, you can get started on creating the perfect topping for your Classic Christmas Pudding or an Orange Eclipse Pudding.

    To make our Traditional Brandy Custard, you will need:

    • 300ml Milk
    • 300ml Pouring Cream
    • 1 Vanilla Bean - Split length ways
    • 8 Egg Yolks
    • 75g Caster Sugar
    • 60ml Brandy

    So you've got your ingredients, what's next?

    Combine your milk, cream and vanilla bean in a saucepan, bring to the boil then remove from the heat immediately.

    Beat your eggs and sugar until thick and pale.

    Strain your cream mixture then whisk into the eggs and sugar

    Transfer the mixture into a heat proof bowl, and place into a saucepan filled about a third of the way up with simmering water. Stir the mixture until it thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. DO NOT LET THE MIXTURE BOIL!

    Add brandy to the mixture and cool to room temperature. Of course, if you'd like your brandy custard to have a bit more of a kick, simply add a little more brandy!


  • Throwing a kids birthday party should be a lot of fun for everyone. All it takes is a bit of planning and, of course, a cracking birthday cake.

    When it comes to party time, it’s easy for parents to stress out and blow out the budget, but throwing a birthday party for your child should be fun for all. It just takes planning, a well-paced party schedule and a brilliant birthday cake.

    Remember, within reason, to include the party boy or girl in the preparations, keep the party to 1.5 to 2 hours to avoid any over-excited meltdowns and if numbers are an issue, use the fall-back rule that the number of guests should equal the age of your child plus one.

    Every Party Needs a Theme

    The best place to start with any party is with a theme. Once you have a theme in mind, it opens the doors to a huge world of options, from food to decorations. These little details are what make the bash something really special.

    Often it’s a no-brainer (your little boy is super-hero-mad), but if you’re scratching around for ideas, here are a few possibilities:

    • Traditional fancy dress – for boys and girls of all ages
    • Builder – for boys age 2-5
    • Fairy or princess – for girls age 2-8
    • Under the sea – for boys and girls age 3-8
    • Pirate – for boys (and girls!) age 2-8
    • Spooky – for boys and girls age 6-10

    Maybe ask your children to help you to create some eye-catching invitations to give your guests a taste of what’s to come. A hand drawn invite will definitely stand out on the fridge and will set the tone for the good times ahead.

    Food, glorious food

    birthday party tips

    Keep the offerings simple. Party pies and sausage rolls, cupcakes, crisps or fairy bread always go down well.

    But it is also good to keep any party theme going, for example if it's a traditional fancy dress party, you might want to order some ‘Cupcakes‘ so that you can decorate them yourself, or Gingerbread Men for a pirate party.

    Be aware of any food allergies – it’s best to avoid anything with nuts and to offer a gluten-free option. You may also want to offer some healthy snacks, like ‘traffic light’ fruit pops (balls of watermelon, banana and kiwi fruit on a paddle pop).

    Make a game of it

    You could go all out and hire a jumping castle and entertainers or you can keep things simple and go for traditional games that never lose their appeal – especially with younger children.

    3 – 4 Years

    • Pin the Tail on the Donkey
    • Simon Says
    • What’s the Time Mr Wolf

    5 – 6 Years

    • Three-legged races
    • Sack races
    • Egg-and-spoon races

    7 & Older

    Older kids may be ready for simple crafts like making pirate hats, princess crowns or other novelties.

    Of course everyone loves to have a go at whacking the piñata to release a shower of toys and lollies.

    Let them eat cake

    Every party needs a cake – Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses has been baking magical moments since 1901

    Ideally if you’ve got a theme you’ll want to stick with it (or pick a theme to fit the cake you want to make!). It is always fun to sit with your child and let them pick the cake they would like on their big day.

    Just click on the Celebration Cakes section of the website.


    Goodie Bags

    The best idea when you’re putting together a kids goody bag is to set yourself a budget per child and stick to it.

    Good options for goody bag fillers are pencils, erasers, balls, stickers, hair clips and jewellery (for girls), small toy cars/dinosaurs/animals, small books, small bottles of bubbles and, of course lots of yummy sweet treats. Make sure you ask the birthday boy or girl to help you out as well

    Remember that it is fine to tailor the goodies to each child’s age – one doesn’t have to fit all!

    Fun times are good times

    Most importantly, remember that your kids birthday party is all about having fun, and that goes for big and little kids alike! Enjoy yourself and let the good times roll!