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Christmas Recipe for Plum Pudding in Calico Cloth

Updated on December 10, 2016

Plum Pudding and Hot Custard but not a Plum in Sight

Family traditions that are handed down from mother to daughter through the generations are hard to beat. The Christmas Pudding is one of those favourites that was handed down by my mother, from her mother in Australia and all the way back to England and her grandmother. But it is not only the recipe that is special here, it is the ritual that surrounds it from shopping for the ingredients to pouring the custard over the steamed pudding on the day of the feast.

Granny Maude's recipe - Christmas pudding made with love by Mum
Granny Maude's recipe - Christmas pudding made with love by Mum

When to Hang That Pudding

The longer the pudding hangs, the better the chance of the flavours working their way through the mix. A firmer pudding texture develops as the days roll on toward Christmas.The pudding can be prepared weeks in advance. Make sure you steam the pudding for six hours initially. Hang it in a dry place for best results or if you are in an area of high humidity, pop the pudding in the freezer to prevent mould forming.

It all starts weeks before Christmas with the buying of the calico and mixed fruit. The cloth must be soaked overnight then all the ingredients are blended together in the biggest mixing bowl in the cupboard. Every body in the house needs to give the pudding a stir with a wooden spoon, for luck. In the days where coins were made out of silver, sixpences would be boiled to sterilise, then stirred through the final mix.

The original plum pudding was made from dried plums or prunes, but the recipe that was created in our family is a mixture of currants, raisins and sultanas. It is rich and heavy and flavoured with brandy. The recipe doesn't say what size glass to use so this depends on the mood of the cook at the time of making.

Treasures from the Housekeeping Book

Some of the favourite recipes from Granny Maude
Some of the favourite recipes from Granny Maude
First entry in the housekeeping book that was to be filled with recipes
First entry in the housekeeping book that was to be filled with recipes

Hand Written Recipe Books

My grandmother was known to everyone as Granny. The epitome of a mother and grandmother she was very much loved by all. Not only for her wonderful recipes but for her way of welcoming you with a smile and a hug and her unique style of piano playing. If you could sing the melody she could bring the piano to life. Her left hand would move swiftly over the keys using a combination of octaves and chords, while the right hand would tinkle away with the tune. Everybody’s favourite was Alley Cat.

Hand written treasures, collected over time, filled her recipe books. Nestled in one of these, a simple 80 page exercise book, is the traditional Christmas Pudding. My mother wrote it out for me with instructions for using the calico cloth of yesterday. It sits in my exercise book with pride all covered in flour and other kitchen stains from years gone by.

 

Hanging the Pudding

Ideally, the pudding needs to hang for a long time, at least three weeks but anything up to six weeks is good too. The idea is for the flavours to seep through the mix and work their magic. The alcohol acts as a preservative. Don't panic though. If you have run out of time, you can still prepare the pudding, even on the day as long as you give it six hours to cook.

Stirring the Pud

Christmas Cake is Part of the Tradition
Christmas Cake is Part of the Tradition
Using a wooden spoon, everybody has to have a stir, for Good Luck!
Using a wooden spoon, everybody has to have a stir, for Good Luck! | Source

Granny Maude's Christmas Pudding Recipe

Calico Cloth

  • 1 metre calico
  • ½ cup plain flour
  • String for tying

Soak cloth overnight in cold water, while making pudding, boil cloth in boiling water for 30 minutes. Ring out well. Spread the calico cloth on the table or bench and rub well with flour (40cm area only).

Christmas Pudding Ingredients

  • ½ pound butter
  • ½ pound brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ½ pounds mixed dried fruit
  • ¾ pound plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon carbonate of soda
  • 2 teaspoons mixed spice
  • ½ glass brandy or sherry

  • 1/2 cup of almonds, see below

Method

Cream butter and sugar, add well beaten eggs, brandy, fruit, flour, spice and soda. Place in pudding cloth, gather up evenly and firmly allowing room to swell and tie firmly with string. Put lid on pan. Boil or steam quickly for 15 minutes, reduce heat and boil or steam slowly for six hours. Hang in a cool, dry place. On Christmas Day boil for three hours. Hang ten minutes to firm.

Granny Maude
Granny Maude

But Wait There’s More

The first time I made the pudding I forgot to read the back of the recipe, where, in my mother’s best cursive writing is the rest of the ingredients and instructions. Mum is a wonderful cook but always manages to leave something out when she shares her secrets, although she swears this is unintentional.

“Lots of luck, hope this all makes sense to you. Make sure there is someone handy to tie the pudding up very tightly so the water can’t get in. Forgot to list almonds, these weren’t in the original recipe but I always add about ½ cup, blanched and peeled ones, cut into halves. Make sure the water in pan is always about ¾ full so top up as needed.

When you take the pudding out of the water ring out as much water as you can from loose calico ends. Tie these ends up high on the string for a few days till dry. Too much cloth resting on the pudding could cause mould. That’s about it but give a me a call if you can’t make sense out of all this. Love Mum.”

Christmas in Australia is Hot

It may seem strange to sit down to a full roast dinner with steamed Christmas Pudding and hot custard when the temperature outside is soaring to 100 degrees but that's what we did. The kitchen would be hot, the house would be hot and the food was always hot, but it didn't matter. The women from my mother's family had handed down the tradition and so far no-one has tried to change it. My younger sister rises to the challenge now, but has the sense to bake the meat outside on the Weber.

The highlight of the feast is, as it has been for as long as I can remember. The unwrapping of the steaming hot Christmas Pudding and the sighs of relief to discover the water hasn't penetrated through the calico cloth. This is followed by squeals of delight whenever someone's spoon clinks on one of the coins announcing the discovery of the treasures within, the humble Christmas 'Pud'.

Pudding size

The ingredients above make a large pudding for the extended family and serves 12 - 16 but can easily be scaled down by half for a smaller feast. Leftovers can be kept refrigerated for several weeks or frozen for 12 months.


Christmas Decorations

Shiny Baubles Entwined with Fairy Lights Brighten a Christmas Tree
Shiny Baubles Entwined with Fairy Lights Brighten a Christmas Tree | Source

© 2010 Karen Wilton

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    • Karanda profile image
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      Karen Wilton 2 years ago from Australia

      It is a wonderful tradition, I'm so glad by granny handed down the plum pudding recipe so we could delight in it for years to come. Thanks pstraubie.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      The story that accompanies this makes it a food that everyone should wish to prepare. I know that many will be happy while making it.

      Angels are on the way ps

    • profile image

      Rebel 3 years ago

      Thank you so much Karanda! I've been looking for a pudding like my grandma used to make, with NO breadcrumbs. Yours looks like it is just like hers was. It's getting a bit close to Christmas, just 2 weeks to go, but I'll have a go anyway. I'll give it more time next year to build up the flavours! Thanks again.

    • Bappy Hussain profile image

      Bappy Hussain 5 years ago from South Yarra, Melbourne

      Oh my gosh! Great post and useful recipe info on Puddings.

      But I am not a great cook , as I always messed up, whenever tried to prepare something like chicken roast, BBQ or any dessert item. :P

      But After reading this hub I would definitely try preparing plum puddings myself :)

      Thanks again for the great recipe.

      Though I didn't prepare puddings last Christmas but bought some great yummy puddings from local online pudding store. They really do serve handmade quality puddings all over Australia. Anyone thinking of buying chocolate, gourmet or plum puddings, have a look.

      Here is that Online store's link www.pudforallseasons.com.au

      But if you can prepare puddings at home I would definitely recommend to prepare it in your home and share with me!!!

      :)

    • chiclon profile image

      chiclon 5 years ago from Barcelona

      Tot té molta bona pinta

    • Karanda profile image
      Author

      Karen Wilton 5 years ago from Australia

      Your welcome Loren, I'm so glad your family will be having the traditional Christmas pudding. I do hope you all cope with your first Christmas without nana. All the best with the recipe.

    • profile image

      loren 5 years ago

      thank you sooo much for sharing! my nana passed away earlier this year and iv been promising my grandpa i would try and make plum pudding like nana did for christmas,but iv been hunting high and low through her recipes and couldn't find the recipe anywhere! i remember watching her make it years ago and this is about as close as it gets to her recipe! thanks heaps!

    • Karanda profile image
      Author

      Karen Wilton 6 years ago from Australia

      Peter I would love to be able to make a pudding for you but time is against me. We are getting ready to travel home for that special Christmas I've been talking about.

      The recipe I've outlined should be fairly easy to follow and the making of the pudding is not at all difficult it is the placing into the calico and tying it up that causes problems. As long as there are two of you, one to hold the calico, the other to tie the string you should be fine. Best of luck.

      You can always stop back here and leave a comment if you have any problems. I'll be sure to check over the next few days and help where I can.

      I am sorry to hear about the passing of your grandmother, no doubt she will be sorely missed and I suspect not solely for her Christmas pudding.

    • Karanda profile image
      Author

      Karen Wilton 6 years ago from Australia

      Thank you so much Neverletitgo. It is a special time for my family as we all live so far away from each other. This is the one time of the year we, mostly, manage to get together for a wonderful meal, extra special for the memories.

    • Neverletitgo profile image

      Neverletitgo 6 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      What a nice hub! I should come back this hub to get to know your recipe. Voted up and awsome.Thanks for sharing.

    • Karanda profile image
      Author

      Karen Wilton 6 years ago from Australia

      Thank you febriedethan, it was an absolute delight to share this family tradition. Sure, rum or any other alcohol. The idea is to preserve the pudding so it lasts for weeks hanging in the cupboard, maturing and soaking up all the flavours so whatever takes your fancy.

    • febriedethan profile image

      febriedethan 6 years ago from Indonesia

      Wow this is really wonderful! thank you for sharing Karanda. Oh and about the sherry/brandy, can I replace it with rhum?

    • Karanda profile image
      Author

      Karen Wilton 6 years ago from Australia

      Thanks travel man, I feel honoured that you read and commented. Christmas is not looking so hot this year. We have had some truly unusual weather in Australia over the past few months and they are predicting more wind and rain for Christmas, almost unheard of in previous years. Perhaps we will not only enjoy but appreciated the hot dinner for a change.

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Thanks for sharing this, Ms. Karanda. That recipe book is really a treasure. Have a very 'hot' Christmas this year!!! :D

    • Karanda profile image
      Author

      Karen Wilton 6 years ago from Australia

      Wendy thank you for your comments, I really appreciate that you've taken time to read my hub. Yes, the recipe book is priceless and as you can see it began in 1959 making it over fifty years old.

    • Karanda profile image
      Author

      Karen Wilton 6 years ago from Australia

      Thank you Eiddwen. Christmas is all about keep our family traditions alive and well in my family. It is the one time of year when we can all get together, surrounded by memories and nostalgia. Glad you enjoyed and thank you so much for your feedback.

    • Wendy Krick profile image

      Wendy Krick 6 years ago from Maryland

      I loved reading this hub. And I especially loved your grandmothers old recipe book.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

      Oh wow Karanda what a lovely and useful hub. Christmas to me is all about old fashioned themes and what better way to bring back a little nostalgia than through this hub.

      Im know that some of these recipes will have been tried out by me in the next couple of weeks.

      Thank you so much for haring this with us .I think an up and useful/awesome is in order here.

      Take care Karanda.

    • Karanda profile image
      Author

      Karen Wilton 6 years ago from Australia

      vrbmft, hey Vern, Christmas Karanda, there's an interesting idea. I've only given you the traditions handed down from mother to daughter, wait till I start on the ones from Dad's side!

      Yes, it can get extremely hot, it is after all the middle of our summer. We have no concept of a 'white Christmas' here. Most Aussie families have moved away from the hot dinners and sit down to a cold spread of prawns and ham. Thank you for your comment. It is appreciated.

    • Karanda profile image
      Author

      Karen Wilton 6 years ago from Australia

      Frogyfish it was a pleasure to write and share these family traditions. Oh dear, seems as if I have taken after my mother and forgotten an important part of the recipe. After the first boiling or steaming, the pudding is hung for at least 3 weeks so it dries out completely before reheating on the day.

    • Karanda profile image
      Author

      Karen Wilton 6 years ago from Australia

      The housekeeping book is an absolute treasure. Granny's weekly expenses on the inside cover then page after page of handwritten recipes. I guess she found another way of keeping track of her bills and filled it with delights instead. Thank you for reading. You are most certainly 'onegoodwoman'.

    • vrbmft profile image

      Vernon Bradley 6 years ago from Yucaipa, California

      Wow! Feel like I'm reading Dicken's Christmas Carol. Well we could rename it, Christmas Karanda!

      Thanks for priming my memory and getting me into the Christmas Spirit!! Love the pictures of Granny.

      I figured the folks down under have a HOT Christmas!!

      Vern

    • frogyfish profile image

      frogyfish 6 years ago from Central United States of America

      I must bookmark your recipe - I have never made Christmas pudding, but someday... Thank you so much for sharing the delightful recipe and its history! I do need to ask how long between the first six hour boil - cool - then the 3 hour Christmas day boil? A day, week??

      Your handwritten books are just priceless!

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

      "The Housekeeping Book".....

      now, that is charm and memory.

      I like the idea of everyone taking

      a stir with the wooden spoon.

      I do hope you will share more

      with us from your treasure chest.