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Dec 2, 2010 06:47 AM


I am looking for an 'OLD" recipe that my Grannie and Mum (both deceased) used to make every Christmas. They would mix their pudding ingredients and then put the mixture into the corner of a white cotton pillowcase, tie it with string and boil/steam it.

I was just a young girl but remember them getting together to make the pudding every year...but I didn't look into the pot to see if the pudding was being steamed or boiled!!!

Any help anyone can give me would be appreciated. Maybe your Grannie or Mum make their Christmas pudding using this method and be willing to share their recipe.

Thanks again

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  1. From my copy of 'The Ideal cookery Book' 1896.

    When ready to cook, fill a buttered basin with the mixture, tie over a scalded and floured cloth,

    and boil for 12 hours. Keep well covered with boiling water during the cooking.

    after the pudding is done it can be hung up until wanted.

    It can be boiled or steamed for one hour when desired.

    'It will keep for 2 to 3 months if the brandy is added'

    Hope thus helps.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Naguere

      If you want to boil it in a cloth rather than steaming it in a basin then the "scalded and floured cloth" is essential. Basically this gets the flour to seal the cloth and protect the pudding stopping it getting water logged. Look on-line for info on the technique. You can also cut the cooking time by using a pressure cooker - I suspect the 12 hours in the recipe above is for a large pudding. I do mine for 8.

    2. I'm in the USA and this is not so much a reply to this post as it is a request for information as this is the only page I have found on the topic of English Christmas Plum Pudding. After many years of trial and error I have finally managed to get my pudding, done in the pressure cooker, to come out beautifully! The problem is I would like to use something to give it a bit of a "soak" to help preserve or "cure" it, but my son does not like anything with alcohol and I can't eat citrus fruits, so orange juice is out. I was wondering if I could use apple juice to moisten the pudding? How do you folks think it would affect the flavor? I also can't make any Hard Sauce as much as I love it because of the brandy, so I'm going to do a bit of a "cheat" and use some Bird's Custard (Not readily available in the States, but recently purchased from a British foods website) to make a sauce.
      Should I wrap the pudding in cheesecloth and then tin foil, or is there a better way? Unfortunately I don't have a cake tin I can keep it in.
      Sorry if this sounds very strange to you, but I am attempting to at least do a sort of homage to traditional British Christmas this year, complete with "crackers"! Why? Well, I try to do something different every year, and this year, we can all blame David Tennant's Doctor Who for my inspiration. <vbg> Thank you for your help!

      5 Replies
      1. re: riggs

        It is a tricky question to answer as you don't usually need to soak puddings. It is true you "feed" Christmas cakes to make them moist as they can dry in the oven but as a pudding is sealed during the steaming/boiling process it should retain its moisture.

        As the mixture and cooking process should result in a nice moist texture. I simply leave them in the Pyrex bowl I cooked them in and change the baking paper/foil lid after they have cooled following the initial 6 hour boiling (without pressure cooker) then keep them in a cool place until eaten (a couple of months) - I think the change of paper/foil helps keep them sealed. I also assume the high sugar content (like jam) helps preserve it, but I have read if they are kept in a warm place they can go mouldy. I am not sure apple juice will help, it could cause a problem because it has little preservative value (i.e. low sugar), will dilute the sugar content, and increase the water content which could allow bacteria to grow.

        We then boil for a further hour before we serve it. They usually come out dense, rich and moist, and the trial taste of this years batch has confirmed this.

        Plain custard is fine with pudding (and is pretty common), or simply use some pouring cream or double cream (my preference). My partner puts brandy in her (Bird's) custard, and my parents made brandy butter. It is also a pity you can't flambé it with brandy before you serve it - that is the true British tradition bringing it to the table flaming away (and then removing the cremated holly sprig you forgot to remove from the top).

        1. re: PhilD

          I have been trying to recreate my Mother's "Persimmon Pudding" with fruits. I remember she used cheesecloth, then waxed the outside, yes, with holly sprig on top, and gave them as Christmas gifts to all our friends. The waxed cheesecloth preserved the moistness of the pudding. However, I don't know at what stage or how she applied the wax. Anyone know?

        2. re: riggs

          My mother used to make her christmas pudding a year in advance ... and, just as an aside - we never saw as much as a single plum anywhere near it - I think the term plum pudding is an American one - could be wrong though.

          Another suggestion for a "custard" is one my mother used to make for us kids - it was like an instant Bird's one, except we used corn flour (obviously with milk) rather than the Bird's Eye mix, and flavoured it either with vanilla or lemon (I reckon you could use squeezed oranges instead - maybe more xmassy?). I used to love it, and the advantage is that it is less sweet than custard mix (although, if you are using the original Bird's mix, you can moderate the amount of sugar you use).

          1. re: riggs

            Unlike Christmas fruitcake there's very little alcohol in a pudding so it's more for flavour - no need to add anything to it after it's steamed - like PhilD, I re-wrap the pudding basin - wax paper on top and then foil - no cheesecloth - and stick it in the fridge until Christmas day, then I just leave it to simmer on the back of the stove for 3-4 hours.

            Bird's custard - yum! I'm thinking I will do that this year - my friend A will have his sisters visiting from Scotland and I'm not sure what they'll think of my reworking of Nigella's rum-cream sauce - Gosling's gold rum beaten into Haagen Dazs ice cream and re-frozen. Sensationally decadent.

            Are you also doing roast potatoes in goose fat and sprouts? :-)

            1. re: riggs

              My great grandmother used to put grape juice on her pudding, as she was a tee totaler. The family never let on to her that the juice fermented while sitting and the pudding was as alcoholic by the time it was served as any other!

            2. I sometimes prepare plum duff using that method. I don't use a pillow case but cheese cloth works quite well. But you've gotta keep it out of the water and expose it only to the steam; and the steam needs an escape route so it doesn't condense inside the cooking vessel.

              1. I found this Aussie site that gives explicit directions for boiling in calico.


                1. Here is a slightly updated steamed Christmas Pudding that my family has enjoyed off and on for a number of years. Adapted from a recipe a family friend had for a steamed cranberry pudding that I thought to simplistic, and another one I found on-line that used dried cranberries, which I substitute fresh ones for a brighter flavor.

                  Serve with brown sugar hard sauce.

                  English pudding with Fresh Cranberries, Figs, and more:

                  1C. all purpose flour
                  1 tsp. cinnamon
                  1 tsp ground ginger
                  3/4 tsp. baking powder
                  1/2 tsp. salt
                  1/2 tsp grd. cloves
                  1/2 tsp grd. nutmeg (fresh is best)
                  1 1/2 C fresh cranberries
                  1 1/2 C chopped dried calymrna figs (about 8 ounces)
                  1 C dried currants
                  4 C fresh white french bread crumbs
                  1 C golden brown sugar
                  3 large eggs
                  1/2 C unslated butter, melted
                  1/2 C pure maple syrup, grade B preffered
                  1/4 C Grand Marnier
                  1/2 Dark Rum
                  1Tbsp. grated tangerine or orange peel
                  2 tsp. vanilla extract

                  Generously butter a 2 1/2 qut. charlotte mold, large glass basin, or similar.

                  Sift flour, spices, salt, baking powder into large mixing bowl. Add the cranberries and dried fruits and mix together well.
                  Mix in crumbs.
                  In a medium bowl, mix together brown sugar, eggs and beat well. Add maple syrup, butter, and mix again. Add remaining ingredients and mix again, then pour wet ingredients over dry in larger bowl and stir until well combined. Mixture will be very thick.

                  Spoon into prepared mold, and smooth the top.
                  Cover with a double layer of foil, buttering the foil touching the pudding. Crimp the edge tightly.

                  Place a rack in a large pot, and set the pudding on the rack. Fill the pot with boiling water to come about 1/2 way up the mold. Cover the pot, and bring back to a simmer over med heat. Turn heat to med-low (adjust as needed to keep simmering), and steam the pudding for about 5 hours. Add more boiling water as needed to keep water level 1/2 way up mold.

                  Remove to a rack and allow to cool at least 30 minutes. Could be served now, but tastes best if allowed to 'cure' at least a week. After cooling, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and leave in fridge for a week if possible.

                  To re-heat, put unwrapped pudding back in mold, and put over steaming water for about an hour to warm up. Do not have the water up to level of mold for re-heating.

                  Serve with brown sugar hard sauce.
                  About 12 servings.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: gingershelley

                    How long do you pressure cook your pudding? an other prssure cookig tips for the pudding are appreciated! Doris USA