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With just 39 days until Christmas, it’s time to think about making those longer lead time items, that in essence need some time to fester in your fridge or cupboard and consist of things containing fruit. This relatively small category includes favourites such as Christmas cake and the subject of this post, Christmas pudding.

We used to buy our Christmas pudding but it is so much better when you make your own and I have done so for many years now. Both our sons have also taken on the pudding duties at different times.

Pudding mix The pudding mix. Don’t you love those old school mixing bowls that are still available?

‘Traditional’ Christmas fare and lunch are not something we do in our house. Australian summers are usually just too hot, and the weather too sunny and great, to be stuck inside cooking turkeys and filling up on hot, stodgy winter food. Searching for an old recipe one day I came across some interesting information. According to the newsletter of the Professional Historians Association (NSW):

The famous Australian writer, Henry Lawson (1867-1922) was one of the staunchest advocates of cold fare for Christmas, and even predicted a time when hot roasts and puddings would disappear from our festive board. “Everything cold except the vegetables, the hose playing on the verandah and vines outside, the men dressed in sensible pyjama-like suits, and the women and girls fresh and cool and jolly, instead of being hot and cross and looking like boiled carrots, and feeling like boiled rags”.1

If Henry were alive today I think he would be very pleased with how Australian society now treats Christmas day. In our house it’s usually something like cold ham and probably a cold roast chicken, and some nice salads. For several years Ms Onion and I and our two boys had theme based Christmas lunches. For example, one year we had a Mexican themed lunch with tacos, burritos, Mexican salads and all the things you might expect. It was great fun. But one thing we always have from the traditional era is a Christmas pudding.

If you like a bit of ceremony when you’re cooking and serving a dish then Christmas pudding is for you. I love little ceremonial acts like trussing a chicken, or in the case of Christmas pudding, covering and tying up the basin for steaming, including making the cute little string handle so you can lift it out of the water bath. Not only is it really fun to do but it’s one of those moments you get in cooking that links you to the past, because you can easily imagine your ancestors doing exactly the same thing. This excellent instruction video from the BBC shows you how to tie up your pudding for steaming. Making the pudding is also one of those tasks that takes quite a while but involves very little effort. The majority of the time is taken up just waiting for things to happen, ideal if like me you enjoy a bit of ‘arse-sitting’ as my beloved friend calls it, and who is partial to a bit of arse-sitting herself.

Pudding bondage All tied up ready for the first round of steaming.

The other bit of ceremony you get to indulge in is on Christmas day itself when you can flambé the pudding, something that should appeal to the bit of pyromaniac in all of us. It’s always a great spectacle and kids love it, so be sure to make it part of your ritual. To flambé the pudding, heat about one or two tablespoons of brandy or rum in a small saucepan until almost boiling, or I find it easiest to do in a microwave. Dim the lights, pour the hot alcohol over the top of the pudding and put a match to it. I speak from experience when I tell you that you might think it a good idea to set fire to the alcohol in its container and then pour it over the pudding, but believe me it isn’t!

I would have loved to be able to provide a photo of a slice of pudding in a bowl, topped with custard and cream ready to be devoured. Unfortunately you will have to wait until after Christmas for that and will for now have to content yourself with a picture of them ready for pre-Christmas storage.

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[1](http://www.phansw.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/PhanfareNovDec2004.pdf), accessed 16/11/2018

Christmas pudding

Addendum 26/12/2018 We ate the puddings for Christmas lunch yesterday. Here’s my piece.


Christmas Pudding

Cooking: 4-5 hours, plus another 2 Christmas day
Serves: 6-8
Note: My pictures show two puddings, but this recipe makes one.

  • 125 g (1 cup) self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 75 g (1 cup) fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 50 g (12 cup) flaked almonds
  • 350 g mixed dried fruits
  • 1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and coarsely grated
  • 2 large eggs
  • juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon treacle
  • 185 g (1 cup) brown sugar
  • 125 g butter
  • 4 tablespoons brandy or rum (or spiced rum is good)
  • Sift the flour and mixed spice together with a pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, flaked almonds, dried fruit and apple.
  • In a small bowl or jug, combine the eggs, lemon juice and zest
  • Melt the treacle, sugar and butter in a small saucepan over low heat.
  • Pour the butter and egg mixtures into the dry ingredients and mix (like most things containing flour, don’t overmix it or the gluten in the flour will develop and make your pudding tough. Just enough to combine the ingredients). Cover with a cloth and let stand for 1 hour, then mix again.
  • Preheat the oven to 150°C
  • Butter a 1.2 litre pudding basin and put a circle of baking paper in the bottom. Spoon in the mixture, ensuring that the top is level. Cover with pleated baking paper and foil and secure with string. Place the pudding in a deep baking dish and pour boiling water into the tin to a depth of 2.5 cm. Cover the dish with a tent of foil and cook for 4-5 hours. Remove the tent, remove from the water and allow to fully cool before removing the coverings.
  • Spoon over half the brandy or rum, re-cover with new baking paper and foil and tie. Store in the fridge until Christmas Day.
  • Before serving, let the pudding come up to room temperature, add the other half of the brandy/rum, re-cover with new baking paper and foil and tie up with string.
  • Steam for 2 hours as above