Traditional Christmas Pudding in a cloth
- The pudding can be made a week or a month ahead, and hung up to dry – whenever it suits.
- The pudding cloth is a piece of plain cotton fabric such as unbleached calico. The size is about 60cm square. You will also need a piece of clean string to tie the cloth and hang it up.
- This recipe is adapted from the one on the suet mix box. You can substitute butter for the suet, but it’s still saturated fat. The suet seems to make the pudding set in the right way, particularly when it is eaten cold on Boxing Day or thereafter.
- The mixed dried fruits can be whatever you like. I make it with the traditional dried fruits (sultanas, currants, raisins, cherries) and the chopped fruit medley (apples, apricots, pears, ...). I do not add fruit peel as my children used to say they didn’t like it, but fruit peel is in most of the traditional recipes, and gives it a citrusy flavour.
- Before you start mixing the ingredients, put a large pot half filled with water on the stove and bring to the boil. Into that water place your pudding cloth.
- Take the cloth out of the water with tongs, wring it out when it’s cool enough to touch, then spread it on the bench. Spread plain flour (about ½ cup) liberally in the centre, making a circle of flour on which you place the mixture. This helps it to form a skin, and not to stick on the cloth.
250g suet mix
½ cup plain flour
½ tsp salt
2 ½ tsp mixed spice
4 cups mixed dried fruits
1/3 cup mixed peel
½ cup chopped almonds
1 ½ cup brown sugar
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
4 eggs, lightly beaten
¼ c brandy (I use dry ginger ale or juice)
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ cup boiling water
1. Combine dry ingredients, except bicarb soda, in a large bowl. I use a knife for this.
2. Add eggs and brandy/ginger ale/juice and mix
3. Add bicarb soda dissolved in boiling water. Mix thoroughly to combine well.
4. Scrape the mixture out onto prepared pudding cloth.
5. Gather up the 4 corners of the cloth into one hand, then gather the in-between folded parts. Bring the cloth together in your hand so that the mixture won’t escape. As you tie the cloth, make sure that you leave space above the mixture for it to expand.
6. With the water in the pot boiling strongly, lower the pudding into the pot. Cover with the lid. As soon as the water returns to the boil, reduce the heat to low. Do not lift the lid. Simmer for 5 hours.
7. Hang up from a hook to dry, in an airy place.
8. Return to the pot and simmer for 1 hour before cutting the string and turning out onto a serving platter. Serve with custard or cream.