Saturday, December 17, 2016


Lovely Debra, The Savvy Shopper in New York, asked about the recipe for our Christmas Pudding.

Our family recipe is for an English-style boiled plum pudding, the kind depicted in the above tree ornament...

We call it Meca's Plum Pudding, and it has been handed down from Mr Cardinal's Grandmother, made by his mother, by me, and by our daughter.

This week we did it again, with the help of two little Canadian boys..

375g mixed dried fruit (or make up your own mix)
2 tablespoons rum (or brandy)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
3 eggs
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 cup self-raising flour
1 teaspoon bi-carb soda
1 green cooking apple, peeled, cored and grated
1 teaspoon lemon essence
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmet
plain flour for flouring the cloth

60cm square of unbleached calico (muslin)
large cooking pot with handles on either side
stand to place inside the pot, eg a wire cake rack
clean rubber gloves

Put the mixed dried fruit in bowl, and pour the rum over.  Let soak overnight.
Boil water in the cooking pot, then boil the cloth in the pot for about an hour.  Put on rubber gloves, remove cloth from pot, wring out excess water.  Set cloth aside while making pudding, but don't let it dry out.

In medium saucepan, combine soaked fruit, brown sugar and butter.  Stir over medium heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves, and it begins to boil. Transfer mix to large bowl, cool to room temperature.

Whisk 3 eggs with a fork and stir into fruit mix.  Add breadcrumbs, SR flour, bi-carb soda, grated apple, lemon essence and spices and mix well.

Top up water in pot, bring to boil.  
Spread pudding cloth on bench, sprinkle enough plain flour on cloth to cover an area 40cm in diameter, leaving flour a little thicker in the centre.

Place pudding mix in centre of cloth, on flour.  Gather cloth evenly around it, avoiding any deep pleats, then pat into round shape.  Tie cloth tightly with string, as close to mixture as possible.  Pull ends of cloth tightly to ensure pudding is as round and firm as possible.  Do not worry if it looks a little small, it will get bigger.  Knot two pairs of corners together to make the pudding easier to remove.

Place stand in pot so pudding does not stick and burn.  Lower pudding into boiling water, tying free ends of string to the pot handles to suspend the pudding.  Cover the boiler with tight-fitting lid and boil for 3 hours, replenishing water as needed to maintain water level.

To remove, untie pudding from handles, place a wooden spoon through the knotted calico loops to lift pudding from water.  Place pudding in a large colander, cut the string and carefully peel back the cloth.  Turn pudding onto a plate, carefully peel cloth completely and allow to cool.  The flour which was sprinkled on the cloth has become a 'skin' covering the pudding, retaining its moisture.  It is important to remove the cloth while the pudding is hot, to prevent the skin sticking to the cloth.  It should also be removed before storage as mould can form.

After pudding comes to room temperature, wrap it in plastic wrap and store in fridge for up to 2 months.

On Christmas Day, boil the calico cloth again, tie the pudding into the cloth as before and boil for 1 hour.  
Or you can warm it in the micro-wave.  I do.

Serve while hot with cream, custard, brandy cream, ice cream.....etc.etc.

This is my pudding as it stands at the moment, covered in plastic wrap and living in the fridge until Christmas Day.

While there appear to be a lot of instructions, in fact it is a quick, easy and economical pudding to put together, and it is fun to make something old-fashioned, using a long-ago method.  

When I was a child, my father made a whole series of these red pointsettia flowers, cutting them with a jig-saw and carefully painting them.
They were called place-mats, but I don't remember ever seeing them used for that purpose.  But they are so pretty, they have always been around.

For our first Christmas without my Dad, I like seeing them around the house...

More festive cooking today:
Cherry Ripe squares, and Mars Bar slice.

Stocking the freezer in advance...

Still keeping a watch on everything...

Enjoy the weekend, and the shopping...I do!



  1. I've never boiled a Christmas pudding in my life but I think it's lovely that you have this family tradition.

    1. I was surprised how easy it is, when I finally had the chance to do it! Making the pudding was my MIL's privilege until she became too confused to manage it, but then my daughter and I started making it. Now the tradition might continue in Canada as well.

  2. Its just not Christmas without the "pud"! I am very blessed a dear friend gifts our family one every year and has done so for many years. Love your Dad's poinsettias xx

    1. How lovely to have a gifted pudding each year Michelle. Dad had a deft touch with a paintbrush, but never pursued art as a hobby after that early burst with the jig-saw. However, I think there was a bit of talent lurking there :)

  3. Your recipe sounds delicious...they are a traditional dessert for Christmas dinner here too.

    1. Ah, the traditional dessert of plum pudding, which I guess comes from England originally. Somehow it always seems to conjure up vision of Dickens for me.

  4. This is so cool Trish! I had always heard of plum pudding, but it's not at all what I thought it I was. Lol What a fun old fashioned technique and special tradition.

    I love the poinsettias your Dad made too. Special hugs to you as you remember him this holiday.

    Blessings Sweetie! xoxo

    1. Thank you Carrie. The plum pudding boiled in a cloth is such an old recipe, going back to pioneer times, I think. Early Australian settlers had no refrigeration and a pudding made this way would last a long time in the Summer heat. Blessings to you too xoxo

  5. I pour a glass of brandy over the pudding then set it alight as it comnes to the table. It is served with brandy butter or brandy cream, or even both - best not to think about the calories.

    1. How exciting, we must try to flaming pudding idea - this could be the year! Definitely it needs the brandy touch, and I love brandy butter. Calories? what are they? ....

  6. What a lot of fun you are having with your little grandsons! Making Christmas pudding together sounds like a wonderful tradition. My mom also made Christmas pudding, but mixed in a bowl and boiled in a tin can (so classy, right?). Love the tree decorating that has been done at your house. The blue jay is a great addition to your tree. Enjoy!

    1. Ah, so funny re the tin can. My mother used to boil various things in tin cans also. It must have been quite the done thing.
      The blue jay amuses me, such a stern expression on his face!

  7. Your old-fashioned Christmas pudding sounds so Yummy, Patricia. And to top it off with a little cream or custard, even better. These poinsettias are very pretty, and they hold a special memory for you of your dear father. Oh, I am looking at the cherry squares and the Mars Bar slice and drooling. These would be wonderful goodies for Christmas.

    Merry Christmas, Patricia! You are such a special friend of mine in this land of blogging.

    love, ~Sheri

    1. It is a very delicious pudding, and Mr C looks for it every Christmas. He likes to pile on the custard and icecream as well. I am having fun making various slices this year, because we have more family here to eat them :)
      Merry Christmas Sheri, always a pleasure to see you in the Land of Blog!

  8. I have always wanted to taste Christmas pudding! Thanks for the easy recipe Trish. I'm making it this week!

    Adorable Christmas decorations!

    1. Exciting Debra - good luck and have fun with your old-fashioned Christmas Pudding!

  9. How lovely that your Dad is with you in this way. Something to treasure and pass on someday. xx

    1. So true, Amy, I hope someone in the family will like to keep the red flowers. They are in beautiful condition considering their age! xx

  10. I've never made it or tried it but it sounds like a wonderful tradition. It is nice when you have a food that is special for the holidays.

    1. It does seem to be a British and Commonwealth tradition, Amalia, but it is fun. The puddings remind me of Charles Dickens and other Victorian novelists and their descriptions of food. We all look forward to our special treat on Christmas Day. xo

  11. I'm another who has never had a Christmas pudding. Now that you've posted directions I have no excuse not to make it myself. Love that you have a few treasures from your dear Dad to decorate with. Memories are precious.

    1. First find a square of calico - I'm sure a crafty girl like you will have no trouble with that one :)
      Yes, precious memories, and I like looking at my red flowers for Christmas.

  12. Your Christmas pudding sounds delicious, Patricia. I have always wanted to try that. I will keep your recipe bookmarked and try to make one someday. Thank you for sharing!

    1. It is delicious, Jennifer - like a cake, but different! One day you might have a go at it. The recipe is very easy to put together, but the fun bit is doing it in the calico ball, suspended in the boiling pot.