Boiled Christmas pudding


  • Serves 4 people

Made with sweet dried fruits, fragrant spices, a generous dash of booze and a token surprise or two - the Christmas pud is the perfect finale to any festive family meal.  

  • 600 gm mixed dried fruits, such as raisins, sultanas, currants, figs, cherries and prunes
  • 150 gm candied fruit, such as cedro, orange and clementine, finely chopped
  • 100 ml sweet sherry or brandy
  • 300 gm (1½ cups, firmly packed) dark brown sugar
  • 280 gm (4 cups) coarse breadcrumbs
  • 250 gm cold butter, coarsely grated
  • 150 gm (1 cup) plain flour, plus extra for flouring
  • 60 gm (½ cup) ground almonds
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, coarsely grated
  • ½ tsp each ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg and ground cloves
  • 1 orange, finely grated rind and juice only
01   Combine dried and candied fruits in a bowl with sherry, mix to combine well and stand for 3 hours or overnight.
02   Add remaining ingredients, ½ teaspoon salt and mix to combine well.
03   Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add one prepared pudding cloth (see introduction) at a time to water and boil for 1 minute, then remove with tongs and squeeze excess water from cloth (wear rubber gloves to protect your hands). Place ¼ cup flour in centre of cloth and, using a flat-bottomed cup, spread flour in a 30cm-diameter circle in centre of cloth and rub in.
04   Pile a quarter of the pudding mixture into the centre of cloth.
05   Gather up edges of cloth, enclosing mixture, and twist firmly. Tie tightly with twine to seal, then tie ends of twine into long loops. Repeat with remaining pudding cloths and pudding mixture.
06   Gently lower puddings into boiling water, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook until firm (2½-3 hours), topping up with boiling water during cooking to ensure puddings are completely submerged. Remove puddings from water with a slotted spoon, pass the handle of a wooden spoon through twine loops and hang puddings over a basin to catch drips until cloth is dry but puddings are still warm to touch (2-3 hours).
07   Untie puddings, peel back cloth and invert onto a plate. Cool completely, then tightly wrap each pudding in plastic wrap, place in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 months or freeze for up to 1 year before using.

Note This recipe makes 4 puddings. Soak kitchen twine and four 35cm-squares of unbleached calico, available from fabric stores, overnight in cold water. Drain, boil for 20 minutes and drain again. You'll need to begin this recipe a day ahead.

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