Traditional Christmas Pudding
What is traditionally inside a Christmas pudding?
A traditional Christmas pudding will contain fruit, nuts and some kind of liqueur. Some pudding recipes will have port and others sherry.
What pudding is traditionally eaten on Christmas day?
Christmas pudding - also called plum pudding or Christmas pud - is traditionally served on Christmas day. This pudding will be made up of fruit and nuts and will be steamed or boiled to get the desired pudding texture.
Which sauce is traditionally served with Christmas pudding?
There is no specific traditional sauce that is served with Christmas pudding, however, many recipes recommend serving with either brandy sauce or a custard and fresh berry topping.
Why is Christmas pudding called plum pudding?
Christmas pudding is often referred to as plum pudding due to the Victorian practice of substituting dried plums with other dried fruits, such as raisins. In modern recipes, dried plum is not often used, yet the nickname still remains!
History of the Christmas pudding
Originating in the 14th century as a type of porridge, frumenty has progressed to become the modern-day Christmas pudding. It was made during this time with hulled wheat and was boiled in milk, seasoned lightly with cinnamon. It was served as a plain, meatless dish, and often associated with times of prayer and fasting, like Advent and Lent.
As it progressed different recipes formed, and surprisingly, it was often a savoury pudding. Ingredients could range from beef and mutton, to the more usual suspects of prunes, currants, wines and spices.
Regardless of whether it was sweet or savoury, Christmas pudding was a staple on Christmas Eve. Boiled in a ‘pudding cloth’, this dish was served on the table with a sprig of holly. Sometimes it was doused in brandy and set alight, but most often it would have small trinkets hidden inside that represented specific wishes. A coin symbolised wealth for the coming year, a wishbone for good luck and a small anchor for safe harbour.
Finally when the Victorian Era rolled around in the 19th Century, the recipe for a traditional Christmas pudding was fine-tuned and it became a sweet dessert for all British families to enjoy.
Christmas pudding is now enjoyed by countries all over the world, with different versions found in South Africa and, of course, Australia. No matter the slight change in recipe, the Christmas pudding has lived on and will continue to be a timeless and traditional dessert for all that celebrate!
Note: In addition to the preparation listed above, this Christmas pudding recipe involves soaking dried fruit and sherry for a week.
Fast Ed's Traditional Christmas Pud
1kg mixed dried fruit (see Tips below)
1 cup sweet sherry, plus extra 1/2 cup
250g unsalted butter, softened
175g dark brown sugar
2 free-range eggs
8 free-range egg yolks
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
200g fresh breadcrumbs
1 cup plain flour, plus extra 1/2 cup
6 tsp mixed spice
1 cup milk
Custard, berries, icing sugar, to serve
Combine fruit and sherry in medium saucepan and set on low heat. Heat until first bubbles appear. Mix very well and transfer to a container with tight-fitting lid. Set aside at room temperature for 1 week.
Put butter, sugar and molasses in large bowl and beat with wooden spoon until incorporated. Transfer to bowl of a stand mixer and beat until mixture is light. Whisk eggs, yolks and vanilla in separate bowl. Add to butter mixture 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat thoroughly before adding next amount. Fold in soaked fruit, then breadcrumbs.
Sift flour and spice together, fold in, alternating with milk, don’t overmix.
Technique for steaming:
Grease inside of a lock-lidded 1.75L or 2L pudding basin with butter, then put a disc of non-stick baking paper in bottom. Spoon in pudding mixture. Put a damp piece of calico, canvas or tea towel (1 layer) stretched on top, fit lid, clamp in place. Put in a large saucepan of simmering water, with a trivet in bottom. Keep water at a simmer during cooking, and keep water level at 5cm from top lip of basin.
Do not allow it to go higher as water may leak into basin, but do not allow it to go too much lower as top part of pudding won’t cook at same rate. Cook for 6 hours, remove basin from saucepan. Set aside to cool completely in basin.
Refrigerate for at least 2 days, then store in fridge for up to 1 month. Before serving, drizzle with extra sherry then put in a saucepan of simmering water, again with a trivet. Cook for 1 hour, until hot, invert onto platter. Serve warm with custard, berries and icing sugar.
Technique for boiling:
Start with a square 60cm piece of calico and wash thoroughly in cold water, until water runs clear. Do not use detergent or soap. Squeeze out, then transfer to saucepan of boiling water and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often. Drain well and lay on bench. Scatter with extra flour while still hot, leaving a 7cm margin on all sides.
While still warm, drape over a 2L bowl, then gently push in so it follows shape of bowl. Allow to cool. Spoon in pudding mixture, then pull corners up and bring together. Squeeze fabric to encase mixture. Hold in place, tie securely with kitchen string. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil with a trivet in bottom. Saucepan must be deep enough to allow pudding to float freely without touching side or bottom. Tie additional piece of string around neck of fabric, with small tied loop at its end, close to fabric.
Put pudding in saucepan, then put a wooden spoon through tied loop and set across saucepan so pudding cannot sink. Cook for 6 hours, remove pudding from saucepan, set aside hanging from string to cool completely.
Drizzle with extra sherry and refrigerate uncovered for at least 2 days. Pudding can be refrigerated for up to 1 month, but should be wrapped or placed in a container after 2 days. Before serving, put in saucepan of simmering water, again with a trivet. Cook for 1 hour, until hot, then carefully transfer to bowl the same size or just larger. Untie, carefully pull back calico as far as you can. Invert onto a platter, remove remaining calico. Serve warm with custard, berries and a dusting of icing sugar.
1. Use a combination of 200g pitted prunes, 100g raisins, 100g diced dried apricots, 100g diced dried apple, 100g chopped pitted dates, and 100g each currants, glacé cherries, dried blueberries and mixed dried peel.
2. If possible, avoid cream sherry. If sweet is not available, use semi-sweet or dry instead.
3. If you won’t use molasses in any other cooking, use treacle, golden syrup or honey instead. Molasses adds a rich flavour and a dark traditional colour.
4. The fruit mix at the end of Step 1 can be left for up to a month, and will only improve over time. If liquid goes below level of fruit, press down firmly. If it is still too low, top up with a splash of extra sherry.
5. Overmixing in Step 3 can make pudding tough, a problem found in baked cakes, but much more obvious in steamed or boiled products.
6. You can buy trivets to fit most saucepans, but you could also use a cooling rack. The trivet lifts the pudding to ensure there is no contact with the bottom of saucepan which would cause the pudding to burn.
7. To hang the pud to boil, use a wooden spoon or anything long that isn’t affected by heat or steam – dowel, metal pipe or sturdy conduit.
Finding the right equipment
Ah yes, the Christmas pudding may be a traditional dessert, but some of the equipment it requires does not fall under normal kitchen tools! Here's our top picks for those hard-to-find items that are essential to make the perfect plum pudding:
Mastercraft Heavy Base 2L Pudding Pudding Steamer, $29.95, Myer
Sofritto 2L Red Pudding Steamer, $39.99, Amazon
Masterpro MPHB61 Pudding Steamer, $30.95, Amazon
Steamer Rack Trivet with Heat Resistant Silicone Handles, $11.99, Amazon
Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Cooking Ware Steam Steamer Rack, $14, Catch.com.au
3 Pack Stainless Steel Steaming Rack Stand, $17.99, Amazon
You may be interested in: World's easiest Christmas pudding wreath
You might also like: