Grandma’s Christmas pudding

I recently posted this pic of my freshly steamed Christmas puddings on Facebook, & it attracted such a lot of attention that I am now sharing the recipe.

It’s my Grandma’s recipe (on my Dad’s side) but I got it via my cousin’s wife, not from my Mum, which you’d think would be the usual way. I think this is because my Mum didn’t like Grandma’s pudding – I recall her saying it was a bit too ‘cakey’.

It feels a bit of a betrayal to say it, but having tasted the finished product, I think I prefer Grandma’s to Mum’s. However the strange thing is that I can’t definitely locate the recipe my Mum used.  I found one in her folder of neatly typed & cake-mix-spattered recipes, but with what I consider a modern addition of grated carrot or apple, I’m not convinced that it’s the one she made in my childhood. I suppose the only way to find out will be to cook it and taste. But I’m not sure I’m ready for another day chained to the stove just yet.

For the pudding novices among you, cooking a pudding is a commitment not to be entered into lightly. Which is why I don’t do it often. You need to soak your fruit at least 24 hours before you plan to cook it and you have to be around for up to 6 hours to make sure the water doesn’t boil dry when you are steaming it. I had to do mine in two batches because I had 3 small puddings & not enough cooking pots.

I won’t go into the details of what you have to do to prepare your pudding bowl & how you actually cook it – you can trust the Women’s Weekly’s time-tested instructions for that. Be warned – it can be tough finding pudding bowls as not many people actually cook them anymore. I had one small bowl and re-used plastic bowls from the puddings I bought last year.

Too much mix for the bowlIf you’re going to make the full recipe you need a really big mixing bowl. As you can see, the large bowl from my vintage MixMaster was not big enough. This was before I’d added the flour & breadcrumbs. It was also the point at which I remembered Mum saying Grandma’s recipe made a very big pudding.

Grandma’s recipe was – of course – all in imperial measurements so I’ve provided those with my approximate translation.

And here it is:

Start by soaking 2 pounds (1kg) of mixed fruit of your choice in 1/2 cup of brandy for at least 24 hours. Obviously the amount of alcohol you actually use is negotiable.

On the day of cooking, cream 12 oz. (ounces, or 340g) butter with 8 oz. (225g or about 1 cup) brown sugar.

Add 5 eggs, one at a time.

Plus 2 Tbs golden syrup.

From now on you will have to use a wooden spoon to mix it instead of a mixer.

Add more fruit! And almonds:

4oz. each of blanched almonds, chopped peel and cherries – or if you don’t like cherries, more mixed fruit. I calculated 4oz to be around 125 grams but it’s actually 113g.

Also the grated rind of an orange & a lemon.

Add 2 cups of breadcrumbs and sifted dry ingredients:

12 oz (about 1 &1/2 cups) of plain flour

2 Tbs cocoa

1 tsp each of nutmeg. mixed spice, cinnamon & ginger

1/2 tsp salt

2 Tbs instant coffee

Finally – 1/4 cup of milk.

Spoon sticking out of pudding mixIt is a tradition that everyone in the house has to have a stir of the Christmas pudding. I used this tradition as a ploy to take a picture of my son, AM, but although he grudgingly stirred it, he has forbidden me to use the photo anywhere.

At least he helped stir. I think this tradition is a sneaky way of giving the cook a rest as the mixture is extremely stiff – see spoon standing upright at left as evidence. If you had a large family you could probably get away with not stirring it at all.

Grandma’s recipe said cook for 4 hours on the day of making and 2 on the day of eating, but I divided the mix into three smaller bowls & gave them about 2.5 – 3 hours each. I don’t re-boil before eating, I microwave individual serves. That’s a time-honoured tradition in our family too, at least since the 70s.

If you want, you can pour a bit more brandy into it before you store it for Christmas. Serve with extras of your choice. We always had cream (from the house-cow) and ice-cream. As the first 30 years of Mum’s married life were spent in the Central West on NSW, where it gets very hot at Christmas, she never really embraced the hot custard & flaming brandy tradition of other families.

Hmm, I wonder if there’s any left of the one we sampled.

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