This family recipe is a favourite of mine and has been a hit with anyone that’s tried it. When we were kids, mum used to make this pudding and pop a few 1 or 2 cent coins into the mixture. It was a sign of good luck if we found one of the coins in our slice of pudding. As an adult, it was more good luck that one of us didn’t chip a tooth!
Unfortunately, the metals used in today’s coins aren’t safe to use in food. But, if you’re keen to relive the tradition, you can purchase a few “Christmas pudding pack” coins from various retailers online. Just make sure the metal composite has a high percentage of sterling silver. For ease and safety, I just leave the coins out altogether and stick with the tasty traditional pud.
Now is the perfect time to make your Christmas pudding. If you’re able to make it within the next few weeks, the flavours will develop into a beautifully rich, moist pudding that will go perfectly with homemade brandy custard.
The pudding does require the fruit to be soaked in alcohol. Don’t worry about the kids getting tipsy on the pudding as most of the alcohol evaporates during the cooking process. The alcohol is used to add flavour, as well as to help preserve the pudding so it doesn’t spoil before the big day.
The first step is to soak your fruit overnight. The type of dried fruit you choose is dependent on your own taste. Add anything you like and omit anything you don’t. If you’re not sure where to start, the supermarket sells packets of mixed fruit to make it easy. Tip your fruit into a bowl and cover with alcohol. If you’re not keen on rum, sherry or brandy are good alternatives. Lightly cover the bowl and leave it on the benchtop overnight (not in the fridge). You can leave it longer if you wish, just top up the alcohol as you go as the fruit soaks it up.
The next day you can start to make the pudding mixture.
- Sift all the dry ingredients into a bowl.
- In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix gently to combine.
- Next up is the soaked fruit. Drain the liquid from the fruit but don’t discard it (you can use this liquid to moisten the mixture if you find it’s a little dry). Stir the fruit mix into the batter.
Once the mixture is combined it’ll need to be wrapped into a pudding shape before cooking. Pour the mixture onto a floured cloth (I’ll go into this further below). The reason you flour the cloth is so that it forms a skin around the pudding which helps it to last longer. It also helps stop the pudding from sticking to the cloth.
You’ll need to make sure that you twist the top of the cloth tightly and use twine to ensure that it’s closed up tight so no water can get in while cooking. I always make the twine longer than needed so that I can tie the ends around the pot handles which makes removing the pudding from the hot water a lot easier.
Boiling the pudding
The key to boiling the pudding is to have it suspended in the water, without it touching the bottom or sides. It also needs to be completely covered with water throughout the entire cooking process.
To make things easy, I purchased a pudding bowl which is specifically designed to cook the pudding properly without the hassle. If you don’t have a pudding bowl, you can use a large saucepan.
Tie your pudding into place, ensuring it doesn’t touch the bottom or sides. A handy tip is to place a side plate or small metal rack onto the bottom of the saucepan to stop it from touching the base. Fill the saucepan with boiling water from the kettle (if the water isn’t boiling then it may soak into the cloth and make the pudding soggy), and ensure the water level covers the whole pudding. Also keep the lid on the pot to keep the pudding down while cooking.
The below image is of my purpose-bought pudding bowl. It has a tight fitting lid which keeps the pudding moist and the water out.
Boiling the pudding does take a while so you’ll need to be patient. You don’t have to stand and watch it the whole time, but you do need to check on it so that it doesn’t dry out while cooking.
How to prepare the pudding cloth
The pudding cloth is made out of unbleached calico cloth. It is readily available in most craft stores, and is sold in various sizes on eBay.
Cut the cloth to a suitable size (around 60cm diameter). If you’re using new cloth, then it should be boiled before using it which is as simple as pouring over some boiling water from the kettle. Wring out, taking care not to scald yourself.
Next is to flour the cloth. This helps to waterproof the cloth, and form a crust around the pudding. Make sure you do this when the cloth is wet and still warm. Use a few tablespoons of plain flour and sieve over the cloth, making sure to cover the whole surface.
Note; the pudding cloth can be cleaned and kept for future use.
What is suet?
This recipe, and most pudding recipes, work really with suet. Suet is the raw hard fat from beef or mutton (sheep). It has a high smoke point which makes it great for deep frying and making pastry. Suet has been used in recipes for centuries and has been a staple in the traditional Christmas pudding. If you haven’t used or tasted suet before, give it a go you’ll be amazed at the taste. And don’t worry, it won’t make your pudding or cake taste like meat. Promise.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to source suet so I used a combination of lard and butter instead which works well. I have included the different amounts in the recipe below, depending on what you use.
This pudding needs to be stored and rested which will allow the flavours to develop. Just like my mum, I like to hang my pudding in a calico cloth in a cool, airy place away from direct light. It’ll stay there until Christmas Day, when it will then be reheated for dessert.
To reheat the pudding, simply boil it for about an hour until it’s heated through. Then serve it with anything you like; brandy or rum sauce, thick cream, brandy butter, vanilla icecream or homemade brandy custard. For those who love their traditional desserts, I’ve also included my recipe for brandy custard below which compliments the pudding perfectly.
When it comes to storing leftovers, there’s no waste with this pudding. Simply store it in an airtight container, or it can be frozen and eaten at a later date. The leftover pudding can then be reheated in the microwave, or by wrapping tightly in aluminium foil and heating through in a hot oven.
Naughty Christmas Pudding
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1/2 tsp bicarb soda
- 225 grams raisins
- 50 grams mixed peel rind of 1 orange and 1 lemon
- 225 grams currants
- 225 grams sultanas
- 50 grams suet (lard) or 225g butter
- 50 grams butter
- 1 cup brandy or rum chose any alcohol you like - sherry works well too
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp mixed spice
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
- Soak fruit and peel in alcohol overnight. Leave on your bench lightly covered. Don't place it in the fridge.
- Make sure you stir the fruit mix regularly and add more alcohol if the fruit has soaked it up.
- The following day - cream the suet, butter and sugar.
- Add the eggs one at a time. Mix well.
- Drain the fruit (reserving the liquid) and add to the mixture.
- Sift in the flour, spices and bicarb soda. Mix well
- If the batter is a little dry, add in the left over liquid from the fruit mix. If there is no liquid, then add in hot water. Only use a little at a time until the batter is moist, but not runny. It needs to be a thick batter.
- Wrap the pudding in the calico cloth and tie tightly with string. Place into a pot and boil for 6 hours.
- Keep checking the water level in the pot as you don't want it to dry out. Top up with boiling water from the kettle water when needed.
- Once boiled, remove and allow to cool to the touch. Wrap the pudding in another dry calico cloth and tie closed with string. Hang in a cool, dry position for around 5-8 weeks
- On Christmas day, all you need to do is reheat by boiling in a pot of water for an hour.
- 1 L milk
- 4 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp rum or brandy
- 3 tbsp custard powder
- Place milk (reserving 1/4 cup) and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently over a medium heat.
- Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Add the custard powder to the reserved milk and mix well until you have a smooth paste. If you prefer a thicker custard, you can add a few extra teaspoons of powder.
- Once the milk and sugar mixture is luke warm, pour 1 cup into the custard mix and stir until smooth. Then tip the milky custard mix back into the saucepan and heat gently, stirring until thickened.
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