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Boiled Christmas Pudding

It’s often steaming hot in Australia on Christmas day, but the traditional Boiled Christmas Pudding – served hot with custard – is still on plenty of Christmas dessert menus.

boiled christmas pudding 2

Christmas Pudding: memories by the mouthful

The first mouthful of Christmas Pudding transports me straight back to my early Christmases, sitting around fold-up tables with my cousins at my Nan and Pop Mac’s house.

The air-conditioner would be working hard and my mum and her four sisters would be working even harder to help Nan deliver a hot Christmas lunch with all the trimmings.

I have so many lovely memories of these magical Christmas days, and I can still see Nan pulling out the huge pudding wrapped in its cloth from the pot of boiling water.

I’m sure many of my cousins only ate the pudding to try and find one of the sixpences which had been pushed into the pudding (and would be swapped for a modern-day coin by Nan).

But I always savoured the pudding itself, served with a generous amount of custard.

Plum Pudding: a Christmas tradition

Christmas pudding, also known as plum pudding, is a Christmas tradition from the UK.

It apparently originated in the 14th century then fell out of favour before being brought back into vogue by King George in the early 1700s. Thanks, King George!

And thanks also to the ancestors who brought this tradition across about 17,000 kilometres to Australia, and then persisted with it despite it not really fitting with the local climate.

Christmas with Nana Ling

Just as I remember wonderful Christmas days with my Nan and Pop Mac, my mum remembers her early Christmases with Nana Ling (Nan Mac’s mum). She recalls their hot Christmas lunch prepared in a wood fuel stove (sans air conditioning!).

She often talks about Nana Ling’s Christmas cake decorated with tiny silver cachous, and the dusty floorboards of Nana Ling’s house on a property near Maitland.

My Christmas pudding tradition

Just before Christmas in 2017, I pulled out Nana Ling’s handwritten recipe books for the first time to have a go at cooking up one of the recipes.

I found this plum pudding recipe and uploaded it, along with my first successful attempt at cooking a plum pudding, to Instagram. It was then that the idea for this blog started to grow.

I’m so pleased that I’m cooking this pudding again this year and adding it to my growing collection of recipes on the blog.

The recipe: Boiled Christmas Pudding

This recipe is based on a recipe found in Nana Ling’s handwritten recipe books and my Nan Mac’s recipe.

The original Nana Ling recipe is pictured below, however keep scrolling to the end of the post for the tested, tweaked and updated recipe.

Nana Ling's handwritten boiled christmas pudding recipe

Nan’s Pudding: the ingredients

To make this pudding, you’ll need:

  • butter
  • brown sugar
  • eggs
  • breadcrumbs (make it yourself by finely chopping day old bread)
  • mixed peel
  • currants
  • sultanas
  • raisins
  • glace cherries
  • slivered almonds
  • plain flour
  • salt
  • bicarb soda
  • mixed spice
  • vanilla essence
  • brandy.

The precise quantities can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post.

While Christmas Pudding is also known as Plum Pudding, you might notice that there are no plums in this ingredient list.

Plum pudding does not actually contain any plum!

Instead, since Victorian times the dried plums have been replaced with raisins and other dried fruits.

christmas pudding ingredients

Mixing up the Christmas Pudding

This is the easy part.

Simply beat the butter and sugar and then add eggs one at a time, continuing to beat after each addition.

You then add the sifted flour, salt, bicarb soda and mixed spice and beat on low speed until combined.

Next, add bread crumbs, dried fruit and almonds and stir with a spoon to combine. Finally, mix in the vanilla extract and brandy and stir again to combine.

Traditionally, everyone in the house should take turns stirring the pudding three times to make a wish!

pudding mix 2

Preparing the Pudding cloth

You can buy a pudding cloth from a store like Spotlight or simply buy some calico cloth.

Soak the cloth in boiling water and then wring out excess water. Use gloves or a clean tea towel wrapped around the pudding cloth to prevent the risk of burning your hands.

Spread out the pudding cloth on your kitchen bench.

When your pudding mixture is ready, sprinkle about 1/3 cup plain flour in a 30-40cm diameter circle in the middle of the cloth. Make sure the flour is most concentrated towards centre and lighter towards the outside of the circle, then rub the flour into the cloth.

Place the pudding mixture in the centre of the cloth and wrap the cloth around it while forming a round shape.

Secure the gathered edges as close to the pudding as possible with kitchen string. Secure well and make sure there’s a loop so you can hand the pudding to dry out once it’s cooked.

pudding cloth

Boiling the pudding

You’ll need a large boiler or saucepan to boil up the pudding.

Fill it 2/3 – 3/4 with water. You want enough room for the pudding to be able to move around in the water as it’s cooking.

Gently lower the pudding into the boiling water and boil for 3 1/2 hours.

Make sure the water continues to boil and you keep it topped up with additional water if necessary. Boil a kettle and add boiling water rather than cold water from the tap to ensure a continuous boil.

Once it’s cooked, hook the string from where you’ve secured the pudding cloth into a wooden spoon and gently lift from the boiling water.

Hold over a sink or somewhere that the pudding can drip a little. Within a minute or so you should see the pudding cloth drying in spots.

Hang the pudding somewhere safe and dry for one day.

After a day of drying out, take the pudding down.

Cut open the ties and take a look at the top of the pudding. You should see a skin has formed around the pudding. Scrape away any excess flour from the top of calico pudding cloth and tie to secure again.

Leave the pudding out (no need to hang again) in a dry place for a couple of days to dry out completely.

Store pudding in fridge (still in cloth) until ready to be re-heated.

boiled pudding in cloth

Re-heating the pudding on Christmas Day

To re-heat your pudding, first take it out of the fridge and leave to stand for 6-12 hours.

Immerse the pudding in a pot of boiling water for one hour and then hang for half an hour before cutting away ties and gently unwrapping the pudding. Invert onto a serving plate and enjoy with custard.

boiled christmas pudding

When to make your Christmas Pudding

Traditionally, Christmas pudding is made five weeks before Christmas – that’s on or after the last Sunday before the first Advent.

However, you can make it up to a few days before Christmas. Alternatively, make it up early and store it whole in the fridge for up to a couple of months in the fridge weeks or up to a year in the freezer.

boiled christmas pudding

Boiled Christmas Pudding

Nana's traditional boiled Christmas pudding recipe.
4.88 from 8 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Australian, British
Keyword: boiled christmas pudding, christmas pudding
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 50 servings
Calories: 118kcal

Ingredients

  • 175 grams butter
  • 175 grams brown sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 60 grams mixed peel
  • 230 grams currants
  • 230 grams sultanas
  • 125 grams raisins
  • 125 grams glace cherries
  • 50 grams slivered almonds
  • 125 grams plain flour
  • 1/3 cup plain flour (extra for pudding cloth)
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 3 tablespoons brandy

Instructions

Pudding mixture

  • Beat butter and sugar on med-high in a stand mixer for 5 minutes or until a pale colour.
  • Beat eggs and then add to mixture one at a time, beating further after each addition.
  • Add sifted flour, salt, bicarb soda and mixed spice. Beat on low speed until combined.
  • Add bread crumbs, dried fruit and almonds and stir with a spoon to combine.
  • Add vanilla and brandy and stir again to combine.

Boiling pudding

  • Prepare a large boiler or saucepan by filling 2/3 – 3/4 with water. You want enough room for the pudding to be able to move around in the water as it’s cooking. Put on the stove and bring water to boil.
  • Soak a clean calico pudding cloth in another bowl of boiling water from the kettle for 5 minutes.
  • Wring out excess water (you may need gloves or use a clean tea towel wrapped around the pudding cloth) and spread out pudding cloth on kitchen bench.
  • Use about 1/3 cup plain flour and sprinkle in a 30-40cm diameter circle. Make sure flour is most concentrated towards centre and lighter towards the outside of the circle. Rub flour into the cloth.
  • Pour pudding mixture onto centre of cloth. Pull the edges up and work into a nice round shape. Make sure there is no gap at the top where you’ve gathered the edges together.
  • Secure the gathered edges as close to the pudding as possible with kitchen string. Secure well and make sure there’s a loop so you can hand the pudding to dry out once it’s cooked.
  • Place pudding in boiling water and boil for 3 1/2 hours. Make sure the water continues to boil and you keep it topped up with additional water if necessary. (Boil a kettle and add boiling water rather than cold water from the tap to ensure a continuous boil.)
  • Once cooked, hook string from where you’ve secured the pudding cloth into a wooden spoon and gently lift from the boiling water.
  • Hold over the sink or somewhere that the pudding can drip a little. Within a minute or so you should see the pudding cloth drying in spots.
  • Hang the pudding somewhere safe and dry for one day to cool and dry out.
  • After a day of drying out, take the pudding down. Cut open the ties and take a look at the top of the pudding. You should see a skin has formed around the pudding. Scrape away any excess flour from the top of calico pudding cloth and tie to secure again.
  • Leave the pudding out (no need to hang again) in a dry place for a couple of days to dry out completely.
  • Store pudding in fridge (still in cloth) until ready to be re-heated.
  • To re-heat, take out of fridge and leave to stand for 6-12 hours. Immerse in a pot of boiling water for 1 hour and then hang for half an hour before cutting away ties and gently unwrapping the pudding. Invert onto a serving plate and enjoy with custard.

Nutrition

Calories: 118kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 61mg | Potassium: 122mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 110IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 1mg
Recipe Rating




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Jan

Friday 26th of November 2021

Our Christmas tradition was my parents arguing what we children were allowed on our pudding. My mother's childhood rule was that they could have cream, custard OR icecream, while Dad had grown up with 'cream, custard AND icecream', which we naturally all preferred! Mum, I think, thought 'the lot' was actually sinful and would lead us to hell, so the arguement went on.

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