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Superb English Plum Pudding

['1 pound seedless raisins', '1 pound sultana raisins', '1/2 pound currants', '1 cup thinly sliced citron', '1 cup chopped candied peel', '1 teaspoon cinnamon', '1/2 teaspoon mace', '1/2 teaspoon nutmeg', '1/4 teaspoon ground cloves', '1/4 teaspoon allspice', '1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper', '1 pound finely chopped suet - powdery fine', '1 1/4 cups cognac', '1 1/4 pounds (approximately) fresh bread crumbs', '1 cup scalded milk', '1 cup sherry or port', '12 eggs, well beaten', '1 cup sugar', '1 teaspoon salt', 'Cognac']

Blend the fruits, citron, peel, spices and suet and place in a bowl or jar. Add 1/4 cup cognac, cover tightly and refrigerate for 4 days, adding 1/4 cup cognac each day.
Soak the bread crumbs in milk and sherry or port. Combine the well-beaten eggs and sugar. Blend with the fruit mixture. Add salt and mix thoroughly. Put the pudding in buttered bowls or tins, filling them about 2/3 full. Cover with foil and tie it firmly. Steam for 6-7 hours. Uncover and place in a 250°F. oven for 30 minutes. Add a dash of cognac to each pudding, cover with foil and keep in a cool place.
To use, steam again for 2-3 hours and unmold. Sprinkle with sugar; add heated cognac. Ignite and bring to the table. Serve with hard sauce or cognac sauce.

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