On Sunday I wrote about my Christmas Day Menu.  If you didn’t read it the thrust of it is this; we’re hosting Christmas (as you do when you have a 6 month old child!) and I really want it to be special.  I also want it to mark the beginning of our own family Christmas traditions. In keeping with that (delusion) dream I decided I’d give making a Christmas Pudding a crack.

I absolutely love Christmas Pudding, almost as much as I love Lion’s Christmas Cake.  It’s one of those things I’ve always watched others make with envy and a little mental note to myself that one day I will make my own.  Well that day has arrived my friends!

I did a wee bit of planning (online grocery ordering) and hit the internet and twitter to find a recipe.  A good friend, @Misha_Oz, shared with me her Nan’s recipe for boiled Christmas Pudding (it has treacle in it!) and I desperately wanted to give it a go, but it required cloth and I couldn’t get it in time.  (You see I want to make a “practice pudding” just in case it all goes the way of the Roast Chicken! (no, that’s not a Bruce Lee film!) I still have roast chicken phobia! So I’ve ordered the cloth and I plan to make it before Christmas, but we’ll see how time goes)  So when I hit on the Steamed Christmas Pudding recipe and I had (fortuitously) left out my Op Shop pudding bowl (I have an unhealthy love of bowls and just like Kate Ceberano and young boys pudding bowls are my weakness; especially when they’re only $2!) when I packed the kitchen I decided this would be the way to go.  (Plus the thought of moldy cloth kinda of freaks me a little… not as much as frogs, but it’s up there!)

….Twas the night before pudding making day and all the fruits were to be soaked…

Because @Misha_Oz had shared her infinite pudding knowledge with me earlier in the week I knew that I had to get my fruits on to soak the night before.  Saturday night I got everything together and prepared the fruit. (Not all those ingredients on the bench are pudding related – there’s bread baking mixed in there as well!)

…the patron saint of pisspots perhaps?…

I followed the recipe to the letter, with the one exception of the halved raisins.  There was no way in hell I was going to spend my time slicing raisins in half – do you know how small those suckers are??? I could have lost an eye!

I woke up Sunday morning a lady with a plan.  I would get the sourdough starter started and then make the Christmas Pudding.  I had read the recipe and @Misha_Oz‘s great instructions so I knew that the actual cooking of the pudding was going to be a labor of love.  (7 hours worth of loving to be precise!)

…ferment baby ferment…

Side note: this is my third attempt to get this starter happening.  I tried a few weeks back and the damn thing turned moldy and I have no idea why.  I had doubled the ingredients because I wanted to make twice as much (obviously!) so I’m not sure whether that affected it or whether it was in a bad spot – who knows. (And because I’m a scientist I did it twice to see if it was just the first batch and it happened both times!)  I’m hoping this one fairs better.

…I think I may have been punch drunk off the smell of this…

With the starter started I got down to the business of making the pudding.  I took the lid off the bowl that I’d been marinating the fruit in and when I recovered from the blast of brandy and checked both my eyebrows were still in place I added it to the butter egg mix.

I was a bit of a renegade on this section because I just added the remaining ingredients in a random order and kept the Kitchenaid mixing it the entire time. (Oh my gosh, how awesome is a Kitchenaid – it handled this sticky mess wonderfully. My old mixer would have shat itself just creaming the butter and sugar together. Which reminds me how awesome does brown sugar smell! I had to get the Bose out and blast some Rolling Stone’s Brown Sugar when I added it to the mixer because I’m hip like that!)

…an awesome Christmas smell glob…

When it was all mixed together it was at this point that I had a little freak out.  Was my Op Shop Pudding Bowl 2L – no idea!  The stuff in the mixing bowl looked way too big to fit in the little bowl I had… but I figured I’d fill as much as I could in there and if I had left over I’d feed it to the dog.  (Just kidding! I’d let HUBBY have first crack at it before giving it to the dog!)

Lady Luck is a pudding fan because the entire mixture made it in to the bowl!

Side note: before you fill the pudding bowl turn it upside down on your non-stick baking paper and trace around the top of it and then cut out your circle.  Don’t try and do it after you’ve put the pudding in the bowl.  I got this helpful hint from some British baking show that I’ve now completely forgetting the name of. Lucky my shit memory doesn’t make the tip any less brilliant!

…it’s like a little present…

Now for my second freak out.  In my smugness at having been so brilliant and ordered all the ingredients in my weekly home delivery I hadn’t actually thought to check if I had cooking twine.

Seems Lady Lucky likes pudding and being tied up; I had twine!

That crisis averted I then realized that I hadn’t thought to check and see if my pudding bowl would fit in any of our saucepans.

Side note: am I the only one that thinks “pudding bowl” sounds a little… saucy? Maybe even just “pudding”, especially when said with a British accent.  Ok, it might be time for me to get out of the house a little more…

…thank goodness for the trusty stock pot…

For those wondering, a 2L pudding bowl will fit in a stock pot just fine.  And another blessing, I have silicon oven mitts which made getting the bowl in and out of the stock pot while the water boils a heck of a lot easier and safer!  (Also they make great hand puppets while you’re waiting out the last 2 minutes before you can remove the pudding!)

…send in the clean up crew…

With the pudding in the pot I had a little bit of cleaning up to do.

Now the fun begins.  You have to watch the pot (and they lie a watched pot will boil!) and ensure that the water level stays around the half way mark of the pudding bowl. @Misha_Oz had imparted some wisdom and advised me to add boiling water to the pot – this means that the pot won’t go off the boil and the pudding will keep cooking.  Also, keep the lid on it slows down the loss of water through steam.

It works out that you need to check and top up the pot every 8 – 10 minutes. That’s a heck of a lot of checking in a 7 hour period.  It’s a tad frustrating, but surprisingly adds to the sense of satisfaction when it’s all done.

…pot check #475…

You should notice the top of your pudding cover swelling with steam.  Also, I thought rather interestingly, the aluminum foil will turn a really lovely silver bronze colour by the end of the process.

I only had 2 close calls on letting the pot run dry – once while on the phone to my mother (I was distracted by talk of Christmas presents!) and then again when I got distracted by an online game.

…the moment has arrived…

After 7 hours of tending to my Christmas Pudding Tamagotchi it was time to take it out of the pot and see if it had cooked. My excitement was boundless. (Or maybe that was boiling water watch fatigue…)

<drum roll>

…it’s a magic pudding…

I held my breath and skewered the pudding (oh la la!) and it was done! It smelled amazing and totally looks like a Christmas pudding.

I’m not ashamed to admit it, but I did a little Christmas Pudding victory dance.

Side note: given the way the top has domed out of the pudding bowl I have a suspicion that my pudding bowl is a 1.5L although I’m not totally sure that it’s not not supposed to do that… I might use it as an excuse to buy a new pudding bowl!

I then put fresh aluminium foil back on it and tied it down (just like I did for cooking it) and left it on the bench to cool before popping it in to the fridge.  (I put it in the fridge 3 HOURS after I had taken it out of the pot and the bowl was still warm to the touch!)

I had planned to open this one up and eat it, but after spending 7 hours in 10 minute intervals babysitting the pudding I’m totally thinking that I’m going to leave it and eat it on Christmas Day.  If I make another one it’ll be @Misha_Oz‘s Nan’s recipe.  I’m not so scared of the cloth now that I’ve conquered the bowl!

Donna Hay’s Steamed Christmas Pudding

150g sultanas
150g currants
1 ⅔ cups (250g) raisins, halved
150g pitted dates or prunes, chopped
125g mixed candied peel
½ cup (125ml) brandy or sherry
250g butter
¼ cup (45g) brown sugar
¼ cup (55g) white sugar
3 eggs
85g slivered almonds
1 cup (150g) plain (all-purpose) flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
250g breadcrumbs
150ml milk

1. Place the sultanas, currants, raisins, dates, peel and brandy in a large bowl and allow to soak for at least 4 hours or overnight.

2. Beat the butter and brown and white sugar in an electric mixer until light and creamy. Add the eggs and beat well. Place the butter mixture in a large bowl with the sultana mixture, almonds, flour, cinnamon, mixed spice, breadcrumbs and milk. Mix until well combined. Spoon into a greased 2-litre capacity pudding basin. Cover mixture with a round of greased non-stick baking paper.

3. Place a 2-layer piece of aluminium foil over the top of the pudding basin and tie tightly with string. Place in a saucepan of boiling water (the water should come halfway up the side of the basin). Boil, covered, for 7 hours or until cooked through. Do not let the water boil dry – top up the pan with boiling water when necessary.

Note: To check whether the pudding is cooked, remove from saucepan (wear oven mitts to protect your hands), lift foil and test with a skewer. Re-tie tightly if returning to the saucepan. Store in the fridge for up to 3 months. To reheat, boil, covered, for 30 minutes. Serve with warm brandy custard. Serves 6–8.

Source: Donna Hay Website: Steamed Christmas Pudding

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  1. A handy hint that I use is to make a wee string handle when tying foil in place. This allows you to lift bowl out of pot more easily.

  2. Great recipe but that cooking time left me cold when I read it!
    Using a pressure cooker would have reduced cooking time enormously.
    Off the top of my head I think steam time would be around 20-30mins for a pud that big, followed by pressure time around another 30-45mins.
    Yes you need to leave head room in your bowl so the pud can rise.
    Or create head room when covering with the foil. I do that by covering firmly with the foil to make the shape, then slide it up about 4cm & tie off so the foil forms a loose hat over the top of the bowl.
    Then create a handle with more string to move the bowl around.

  3. Hi Leah!

    Thanks, it smells good so I’m hoping that’s a sign that it will taste good as well.

    Really? She leaves it unattended? I’m not sure how it doesn’t boil dry? Mine seemed to go to nearly empty in 15 minutes. I wonder if she just lets it simmer… maybe that’s where I was going wrong?

    LOL – I cannot imagine why google would not have those images… maybe you should take some this year and blog about it so that there’ll be ones there for the future generations! 🙂

    I wonder if the size of the fruit is going to play havoc with the one I’ve made? I think if I have time once the move is out of the way I might make another one and chop the fruit (in the processor) instead of being lazy – although the processor might make them too small… hmmm… thinking cap time!

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing 🙂

  4. Mmmm, looks fabulous!

    My family recipe uses a cloth, and Mum gets up early Christmas morning (as if a sleepin happens anyway!) to put the pudding on before going to church. Where it’s left boiling merrily unattended – she must like to live dangerously! They live on the coast, and reckon the high humidity makes it hard to keep the pudding in good condition if done earlier. If it is made earlier, she suspends the pudding on an upside down chair, tieing the cloth to each leg so the pudding is hanging in the middle without touching anything. Strangely, google images doesn’t seem to have any pics of this….

    The other thing I thought it vital you should know is our recipe requires all fruit be roughly the same size – so currant size. Sultanas get cut in half, raisins in four etc. Happily, my kids are now old enough to be chopping slaves 🙂