Saturday, November 8, 2008

Christmas Traditions- the pudding

Its 6 weeks to Christmas, time to start preparations.

Firstly, my great-grandmother's Christmas pudding.

Today is the day I had to marked as the day to get it done. The fruit has been soaking in brandy since last Monday night-I'd given DH instructions to give the bowl a shake each time he walked past it- I doubt he remembered, just not on his radar-but when I was at home I did give it a good going over.

My DDM (dear departed mum) cooked this recipe every year from before I can remember-my father's mother cooked it before that & her mother before's been a family tradition for a good many years.

My Grandmother, when we were all younger ,used to put a brand new 2 shilling piece in the bottom of our bowls, put the pudding on top & then load the whole thing up with custard & cream. I remember the excitement as we found the 2 shillings (20 cents in today's money) along with three pence's & six pence's....our money was worth something back then & the coins were all silver so they could go into the pudding. On a good slice of pudding you could get enough money to last you the 6 weeks of the school holidays as a big bonus to pocket money.

I well remember my next older sister digging her spoon through the pudding- on a second slice- declaring that there was no money in it & she didn't want it then-she still laughs about this even today!
Some years back I showed an interest in repeating the family tradition of cooking the pudding & my DDM shared the recipe & the tips for making it with me & then presented me with a set of coins to go into the pudding as well. By this time we were well & truly into decimal currency & the new coins are not suitable for putting in it.

Over the years my coins seemed to get less & I've had to beg & buy some replacements to keep my numbers up......but a few years back I came up with an idea that sees the return of all my coins-in fact it has my sister doing what she did as a child in her quest to have a slice with a coin in it!

I trade scratchy lottery tickets for the coins. I put 25 six penny pieces in & 1 threepence (seems those are the ones I find harder to get more of). For the 6d piece I give a $1 scratchy, but the lucky finder of the 3d gets a $5 scratchy (I call this inflation!)

I also have to keep an eye on the family who will sneak up into the kitchen to see if they can find some stray coins sticking out of the pudding & claim them as theirs! It has created a lot of fun & the safe return of my coins. No one gets to take pudding home with them as I can't be sure that it's a moneyless slice or that they will return the coins for the scratchies.

My DDM used to do a Christmas cake as well & I did for a number of years but it seems they all prefer the pudding to the cake & as its left for me to eat I can well do without it.

Mum used to plan an at home day to do the pudding & the cake- it would take her longer to prepare- I can only guess how long it must have taken my GM & GGM who would have done the whole thing by hand! It takes about an hour to prepare everything then 6 hours to boil it- I have never trusted my DH to watch it after the pork episode some years back.....we don't even want to go there, other than to say- Summer, roast pork left to cool with no cover & Aussie blow flies when you leave the doors open.......he didn't eat roast pork for years after that episode!

The pudding is now hanging under the stairs where it stays until Xmas morning when it gets its final boil-I'm pretty sure you could just zap a slice in the microwave but I prefer to boil it as the coins arc in the m/wave.

Some 10 years ago I was diagnosed with coeliac disease & the pudding wasn't suitable for me the way it was, so, after playing around with it I now make it GF & no one can tell the difference. I tried making 2 puddings for a while but I missed grandma's-its just so good!

So here is the recipe for my G-Grannie's Xmas pudding-if you make it please email me & let me know how you went with it.

Grandma's Xmas Pudding

*halve or quarter quantities for a smaller pudding-reduce cooking time to 4/2.


250gms plain flour & breadcrumbs

500gms butter, brown sugar, currants & sultanas

250gms mixed peel & raisins

125gms slivered almonds

9 eggs

150mls brandy

1 dessertspoon each of nutmeg & mixed spice

1 level teaspoon carb. soda.

1 metre of calico to tie the pudding into & some silver trinkets or silver coins if you want to add these.
Be careful if you are giving the pudding to littlies & check their slice before you give it to them. Do NOT use decimal currency coins in the pudding.

Large boiler & trivet or saucer for the bottom of the pot.


put all the fruit & almonds into a large bowl- pour the brandy over, mix well, cover with gladwrap & leave at least overnight-shake the bowl when you think about it.

In a large bowl (I use a kenwood chef & it all just fits)-cream the butter & sugar. Add the eggs one at a time. Stir in the fruit mix. Add breadcrumbs, sifted flour, soda & spices. Mix well.

Tie in a cloth & boil 6 hours the day it's made & 3 hours on the day served.

TIPS- these are most important to ensure it turns out- the family secrets to a great pudding!

Dip the calico/cloth into boiling water & wring it out (gets rid of the size if its new fabric & helps in the next step- you need the cloth wet)

Place the cloth in a colander (I have one of those large green tupperware ones- absolutely perfect size)-drape the cloth over the colander then rub the inside with some of your plain flour- this helps form a skin on the pudding.

Place the mixture in- don't forget to add your coins or trinkets if you are using them, gather the cloth up, tie tightly using string, leave room for expansion above the pudding & where you tie it.

Make a loop out of the ends of the string & tie the corners of the cloth together- these are what you'll hang it by.

Have the water in the boiler BOILING (I can't stress this enough, it must be a rolling boil)- only fill it about 1/3 full- you don't want it spilling out when you immerse the pudding (ask me how I know).Place the pudding in- note the time.

Check the pot every half hour or so & add more water as the level drops-add boiling water each time (I bring the kettle to the boil & add that straight away).Always keep the pot on the boil.

After 6 hours remove from the pot- its hot & heavy, so be careful. Hang until you need it.

On the day that you are going to eat it. Add water to the boiler, put your trivett or saucer in the bottom first ,bring to a rolling boil, add the pudding & cook a further 3 hours-adding more boiling water as needed.

If the water is not boiling the pudding will absorb the water & will make a soggy pudding-its still edible, but soggy.

Enjoy with cream, brandy sauce, custard or ice cream.....

For the GF method
Use GF plain flour & breadcrumbs & add 1 dessertspoon of xanthum gum. make as above.

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