Rich Boiled Christmas Pudding
Serves 10 or moreCuisine type: TraditionalCooking time:
More than 1 hourCourse: Dessert
The pudding can be made up to three months ahead and kept refrigerated or made up to one year ahead and frozen.
250g butter, softened
1½ cups (300g) firmly packed dark brown sugar
4 cups (280g) stale breadcrumbs (not dry)
1 cup (150g) plain flour
1/3 quantity Basic Fruit Mixture
1/3 cup (50g) plain flour, extra
Beat butter and sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined between additions. Transfer butter mixture to a large bowl; stir in breadcrumbs, flour and fruit mixture.
First prepare pudding cloth. Use a 60cm square of unbleached calico; if calico is new, soak in cold water overnight. Next day, boil calico for 20 minutes, rinse. Have a large boiler ¾ full of rapidly boiling water, 2.5 metres of string and the extra flour close by.
Wearing rubber gloves, dip the prepared pudding cloth into boiling water; boil 1 minute. Remove cloth from water, squeeze excess water from cloth. Working quickly, spread hot cloth on bench, rub flour into the centre of the cloth to cover an area about 40cm in diameter; leave flour a little thicker in the centre of cloth where the ‘skin’ on the pudding will need to be thickest.
Place pudding mixture in centre of cloth, gather cloth evenly around pudding, avoiding any deep pleats. Pat into round shape with hand. Tie cloth tightly with string as close to mixture as possible. Tie loop in string to make pudding easier to lift from the water, leave long ends of string free. Pull ends of cloth tightly to make sure pudding is as round and firm as possible.
Gently lower pudding into boiling water. You may wish to tie free ends of string to handles of boiler to suspend pudding. (If the pan is not large enough to suspend the pudding, place a heatproof saucer in the base of the pan.) Cover with tight-fitting lid, boil rapidly for 6 to 8 hours. Replenish boiling water as necessary to maintain boil and water level. There must be enough water in the boiler for the pudding to be immersed at all times.
Untie pudding from handles. Place handle of wooden spoon through loop in string to lift pudding from the water. Place the pudding into a bowl or colander. Cut the string and gently begin to peel away the cloth, scraping the skin back onto the pudding with a palette knife if necessary. Invert the pudding onto a plate and continue to peel back the cloth completely. Cool. The skin will darken on standing. (We prefer to remove a boiled pudding from its cloth before refrigerating or freezing. This prevents mould from forming on the pudding, which often occurs when a pudding is hung at room temperature in humid weather).
Soak cloth in cold water overnight, wash and rinse well; avoid using detergents.
Grease pudding steamer (2 litre/8 cup capacity), line base with baking paper. Spoon pudding mixture into prepared steamer. Place a 30cm x 40cm sheet of foil on bench, grease foil; top with a sheet of baking paper. Fold a 5cm pleat crossways through the centre of both sheets.
Place sheets, baking-paper-side-down over steamer, secure firmly with string or lid. Crush surplus foil and baking paper firmly around rim to help form a good seal; trim any excess.
Place the pudding in a large boiler with enough boiling water to come halfway up side of steamer. Cover boiler with a tight-fitting lid; steam for 6 hours. Replenish with boiling water as necessary to maintain boil and water level during cooking. Stand pudding for 15 minutes before turning out.
Wrap the pudding thoroughly in plastic wrap then place into an airtight container or freezer bag. Refrigerate puddings for up to three months or freeze for one year.
Thaw frozen puddings for 2 days in the refrigerator and remove them from the refrigerator 12 hours before reheating.
Remove the plastic wrap and return to the steamer. Steam for 2 hours following the cooking instructions.
Remove the plastic wrap and tie a clean, dry unfloured cloth on the pudding. Boil for 2 hours following the cooking instructions.
TO MICROWAVE: To reheat the whole large pudding, cover with microwave-safe plastic wrap, microwave on medium (50%) for about 15 minutes. To reheat 4 single serves at once, cover with microwave-safe plastic wrap; microwave on high (100%) for about 3 minutes.
Suitable to freeze.
Not suitable to microwave.