Laurie's Christmas Pudding

I'm so happy to see that traditions like Christmas pudding spark all sorts of fond memories.  As promised, here's the pudding that my grandmother, Laurie Blackmore, prepared for our family for as long as I can remember.  About 13 years ago she became quite frail so I took over the role, then a couple of years later she passed away and I inherited her stock pot, pudding basins and stash of threepence coins.

Be prepared to invest a chunk of time in this recipe.  Christmas Pudding can never be described as a 4-ingredient or 30-minute recipe.  But the time invested is well worth it as you'll have a delicious pudding as a result, not to mention all the memories you are creating for your family.  You can't put a price on that!

A few notes:
  • You can add sterilised coins to the pudding, and those who find a coin in their serving wins a prize.  Clean them thoroughly then boil in a saucepan of water for 5 mins to sterilise before adding to the pudding batter.  You can't use modern coins as they are made up of a variety of metals.  You can only use silver coins as they won’t react to the pudding.  We use threepences as they are made of silver.
  • It is tradition that everyone in the house must stir the pudding as you make it.  I like to think we are stirring some love into it.  My girls have been stirring the pudding since they were babies, although they needed help cause it’s a pretty thick batter.
  • Most ingredients can be found in the supermarket, but you may need to go to a nut shop or health food shop for the glace pineapple and glace apricots.

Here are Grandma's pudding basins and stockpot:

 And here are the threepences:

Laurie’s Christmas Pudding

250g  sultanas
250g  raisins
100g  currants
100g  chopped mixed peel
100g  glace cherries, chopped
60g  glace pineapple, chopped
60g  glace apricots, chopped
1  medium carrot, grated (chunky, not fine)
Zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
juice of 1 orange
125ml (½ cup)  rum

250g butter, softened
250g brown sugar
4 eggs
1 tablesp (20ml)  golden syrup
120g  plain flour
¼ teasp  salt
1½ teasp  mixed spice
175g  soft breadcrumbs
1 teasp  bicarb soda
180ml (¾ cup)  milk
1 tablesp (20ml)  brandy
Optional: sterilised coins can be added

Stage one (normally late November in our house):

In a bowl put all the fruit, mixed peel, grated carrot, grated rinds and juice, and rum.  Mix together, cover, and leave in fridge for at least 24 hours, or preferably a few weeks.

Stage two (normally around 20th Dec in our house):

Prepare your pudding basin (10-cup/ 2.5 litre capacity): grease the pudding basin and line the bottom of it with a circle of baking paper (to make it easier to remove the pudding on Christmas Day).  

Half-fill a large stockpot with water and bring to a simmer.

Beat butter and sugar for several minutes or until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Add golden syrup and beat again. 

Sift flour, salt and spice together then add to the butter/sugar/egg mixture and mix until smooth.  Transfer to larger bowl.

Add prepared fruits and bread crumbs to the bowl.  Dissolve the bicarb soda in the milk then add it to the bowl and mix everything together thoroughly.  Add sterilised coins (if using). (Everyone in the house should give it a quick stir now to add a little love to the pudding)

Spoon the pudding mixture into your greased pudding basin.  Cover with a large sheet of baking paper that hangs down the sides, then with a large sheet of aluminium foil that hangs down the sides. Tie securely around the outside of the bowl with string (there is usually a small lip on the bowl for the string to sit under - see photo above).  I also run the string across the top of the pudding to make a handle.

Place the pudding in the stockpot, making sure the water only goes halfway or two-thirds of the way up the side of the pudding bowl.  Cover with lid and simmer for 5 hours.  Check the water level every hour and add more boiling water as necessary – pour the water around the pudding basin, not over it.  (Last year I somehow got water in the pudding and it was soggy and disappointing).

After five hours, remove from the water.  Allow to cool then sprinkle brandy over the top.  Cover the pudding with a new sheet of baking paper and new foil and tie with new string.  Store in the fridge till Christmas Day.

Stage three (Christmas Day)

Place in a stockpot with simmering water (half-way up the side of the pudding) and simmer for 2-2½ hours.

Remove the foil and baking paper, run a knife around the edge of the pudding to loosen it, then place a plate over the pudding.  Carefully tip the pudding upside down (cover your hands with oven mits or teatowels) and ease the pudding onto the plate.

Serve with vanilla icecream and warm custard (we normally buy custard from the supermarket but add a slosh of brandy to improve it!)

Here's the pudding I made in 2007 while we were living in Singapore (I have cropped off my face as no-one wants to see my shiny skin and bad hair from living in the tropics)