Puddings Inc

Pudding Tales


When I was a kid they were called Plum Puddings and were made all through the year as dessert. The usual version or the dessert version was not complicated, it was something that Mum could run up quite fast, she would have all the ingredient easily on hand. Sultana, Raisin, Currants, were kitchen staples, butter, flour and eggs, kitchen essentials. She would not have had any peel, she often dried and processed this herself, but this was also only used in the Xmas version. Spices would have been a mixed sweet spice, always at hand. Nuts were like the peel, only used in the celebration version. Alcohol was never used in the day to day version, but was an essential part of the Xmas pudding. This simple pudding would have been made at least twice every month because it was one of Dad’s favourites. The celebration version would have been made once or at most, twice a year the slightly upmarket version would have been a Sunday dinner or visitor version. The plain jam or ginger would have been the ‘other’ everyday version.


Everyday Version

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup of milk

2 tablespoons sugar

2 cups (315 g mixed fruit) this can be a single variety chopped appropriately or mixed.

pinch salt

1 tspn bicarb soda

1 cup (125 gr) Self Raising flour.


Put the first five ingredients into a saucepan, boil for three minutes, remove from heat allow to cool, add the bicarb soda and flour, mix well and put into a pudding basin, cover and steam for 2 hours. Mum always served this with either a custard made from Custard Powder or a ‘white sauce’ made from milk and sugar on a base of butter and flour and in her case, with some nutmeg.

 Everyday pudding

The slightly upmarket version…

100 gr SR Flour

1 pinch salt

100 gr butter

100 gr caster sugar

2 large eggs

2 tblspns milk

50 gr raisins, sultanas, currants mixed or a single fruit.


Cream the butter and sugar until light, add the eggs and some of the flour, fold in the balance of flour, milk and fruit (which you have dusted with flour. Put into a 750 mil pudding basin, cover well and steam for 1 1/2 hours. Serve with cream or custard.

 Upmarket everyday

Personally I preferred the everyday version, it is cooked in a completely different way with much less fat, it is moist and delicious… the same recipe can be used with many different types of dried fruits, stone fruits such as dried apricots or dried peaches are delicious.


The point really is that in days gone by, family expected a dessert each night and this was a simple and delicious dessert that could be run up very fast.


Custard made with cream, milk, sugar and eggs was mostly used as a ‘baked custard’ cooked in a flattish pan in a Bain Marie. Mum would often scatter some sultanas in the baked custard and dad would eat it with jam. The other option for the baked custard was to use some rice which had been either soaked a long time to hasten the cooking or on the rare occasion she had some cooked rice, she would add that. The top was always scattered with nutmeg.

 Baked Custard 2

Not sure if I kept doing this as a matter of course, or if my desire for the tastes of my youth have simply grown as I have become older. I kept the tradition alive and occasionally would do a steam pudding for my own family or guests. In my own families case, they much preferred a steamed jam pudding and slowly fruit puddings became celebration only. Even then the family was very divided in liking or disliking.


Steamed Ginger Pudding

2 1/2  (315gr or 10oz) cups of plain flour

1 tspns of ground ginger

Pinch of mixed spice (to taste, more if you like it)

1 tspns of bicarb soda

155gr (5oz) finely grated suet (if you don’t want to use suet, use 125gr butter chilled and chopped finely)

1 egg

3/4 cup golden syrup

3/4 cup warmed milk

3 tblspns finely chopped preserved ginger


Sift the flour, spices, bicarb soda into a bowl, add the suet (or butter if using.. Then rub the butter into the mixture to make fine crumbs) make a well in the centre and pour in the beaten eggs mixed with the syrup and the milk. Stir well into a batter that is more runny than dough like.

Use a five (5) cup pudding basin and put the glace ginger in the bottom, pour in the mixture and cover with greaseproof paper and the lid and steam over hot water for 2 1/2 – 3 hours, making sure that the water is always bubbling and there is plenty of it.

Turn out from the basin and serve with a sweet white sauce.


Steamed Jam Pudding

This has been a family favourite for a long time, just use whatever jam you have at the time although apricot and plum are great favourites.

This mixture is for a 4 cup basin

60gr (2oz) butter

1/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 tspn vanilla essence

1 cup self raising flour

3 tblspns milk

2 tblspns of jam (or more if liked)


Cream the butter with the sugar, beat in the egg and vanilla with the butter and sugar, add the flour and milk.


Put the jam into the bottom of a pudding steamer (the ones with the fitted lid) that you have greased well with butter and flour, pour the batter on top and place a piece of greaseproof paper over the top, then the lid.


Steam for 40 – 50 minutes in a pot of boiling water. Turn out and serve with white sauce or cream or custard.

 Ginger Pudding 2

In the years before family came along and time was more free, a group of us would assemble in September to make a number of puddings for our Xmas needs and one or two to be consumed by the group of friends.

It went like this..


600 grams mixed fruit

150 grams candied fruit (peel, or as you wish all chopped)

100 mil alcohol ( sherry, brandy, rum)

300 grams dark brown sugar

280 grams coarse breadcrumbs

250 grams butter (cold and coarsely grated)

150 gram plain flour

60 grams ground almonds

4 eggs

2 granny smith apples, coarsely grated

1.5 teaspoons mixed sweet spice.

1 orange, rind finely grated and the juice only.


Combine the dried and candied fruits in a bowl, add the alcohol and mix to combine, stand overnight. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.


Use either a cloth or basin as you desire


If a cloth then remember to boil it well to remove all the chemicals and starch, allow to cool, spread lavishly with butter and dust with flour, place the mixture in the middle and when tying up with string, allow room for the pudding to expand. Place into rapidly boiling water and keep cooking, occasionally adding more boiling water from time to time for 4 hours, remove from the hot water and hang in a place where the breeze will dry it. These puddings can be kept for long periods, I have eaten one that was seven years old.


A Basin, this is not a small pudding, a 2 kilo basin will be needed, simply grease it well with butter and place a disc of baking paper on the bottom, add the mixture and smooth over. Cover with two layers of plastic wrap followed by a layer of foil, tie all this down well with kitchen string. Steam over a large pot of boiling water for four hours. Remove and cool. This will keep for a year.


Now the world has revolved, ever changing and many more people will not eat Xmas/Plum pudding. In Australia it may be owing to the increasing multi culturalism of Australia with the influences from many countries all now coming to the party. It may be due to an increasing number of health experts all of whom seem to be intent on reducing us to grass nibbling shadows of our former selves and who, with a lofty turn of head, decry anything with the slightest bit of good taste as injurious to life and limb, thus also contributing to a diet that is rapidly becoming monotonous. We are introduced to new foods like quinoa, various other ways of eating carbohydrate (we are so obsessed by this) that results in out plate being dolloped with a white substance that resembles potato and has no taste at all.


Hints on Baked or Steamed Puddings

* have all the ingredients to hand when you start making the pudding

* use self raising flour unless otherwise specified

* make sure that the steamer is well sealed, a couple of layers of foil over the top and pleated a little in the middle to allow for expansion works well.

* always put a steamer into boiling water, the water should be replaced as it boils with extra boiling water, never cold water.

* use a heavy steamer to boil in, the heavier the lid, the less steam will escape.

* don’t fill the basin any further than 2/3rd’s of the way up.

* don’t test for doneness until the whole cooking time has elapsed.

* your steamed pudding works just the same as a cake, the chemistry of egg white making an air tight layer around the mixture.

* baking in the oven of sponge topped puddings is the same as cake. Do not test for doneness until at least 3/4 of the way through the cooking time.

* baked bread puddings with custard bases can be tested any time, the best tester is a metal skewer that should come out clean and not sticky.

* allow steamed puddings to rest on a damp kitchen towel for a few minutes before turning them out. It will allow the pudding to consolidate and the dampness of the towel will help in turning it out.

* don’t overfill a steamed pudding with jam, its better to have more warmed jam or syrup on hand. You can burn yourself very badly if the hot jam falls on your skin and this can easily happen if there is too much filling.

* dumplings are not cooked when they rise to the surface, they have just begun cooking and can take a further 15 minutes to completely cook through.


Just Do It.


Peter Watson

4th June 2014

~ by peterwatson on June 4, 2014.

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