Soak up the festive spirit

Too good to share: Individual puddings with vanilla cream.
Too good to share: Individual puddings with vanilla cream. Photo: Marco Del Grande

CHRISTMAS puddings hold a special place in my heart because I am very fond of fruit, spice and booze. A great pudding must have these in abundance. The longer you can soak your fruit in alcohol, the better.
Puddings boiled in a bag are the most traditional and well worth the effort but boiling a pudding for six hours is a big commitment. Steaming in a pudding basin creates a similar rich, dense pudding that slices beautifully; the combination of cranberries, coconut, rum and lime in the recipe below makes a refreshing change.
Individual puddings take less time to cook and this recipe is surprisingly light. We serve these little gems in the restaurant in December — their aroma from the kitchen is intoxicating.

Individual puddings with vanilla cream

MY FRIEND and former mentor, Melbourne pastry chef Emma MacKay, came up with this recipe. These puddings also reheat well in the microwave in a lidded container.

200g raisins
200g sultanas
150g currants
50g glace fruit
50g mixed peel
50g macadamia nuts
250g grated apple
1 tbsp mixed spice and 1 tsp extra
100ml brandy
100ml whisky
160g butter
200g brown sugar
2 eggs
200g golden syrup
200ml water
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
330g plain flour
300ml cream
100g icing sugar
Scraped seeds from 1 vanilla bean

Combine dried fruit peel, macadamias, grated apple, 1 tbsp mixed spice, brandy and whisky in a bowl. Mix well and allow to marinate for two weeks or longer if possible.

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line the bottom of eight 200ml ramekins with grease-proof paper circles.

Cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, scraping down sides. Add eggs one at a time and beat until well combined.

Place golden syrup and water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add bicarb soda and allow to fizz. Add liquid to butter mixture alternately with flour and remaining spice until well combined. Stir through marinated fruit. Spoon into prepared ramekins and cover with foil. Place in a water bath and bake for 1¼hrs or until raised and a skewer comes out clean.

To make vanilla cream, whisk remaining ingredients until medium peaks form. Remove puddings from ramekins and serve immediately with a dollop of cream.
Serves 8

Boiled-in-a-bag pudding and orange custard

THIS recipe makes a large pudding and a large amount of custard to go with it — you wouldn't want to run out.



250g sultanas
250g raisins
250g currants
100g mixed peel
200ml brandy
1 lemon, juiced and zested
525g butter, softened
400g brown sugar
18 eggs
300g plain flour, sifted
1 tbsp mixed spice
250g fresh breadcrumbs
200ml orange juice
2 oranges, zested
400g castor sugar


Combine sultanas, raisins, currants, peel, half the brandy, lemon juice and zest in a bowl and stand overnight.

The next day, beat 275g butter and brown sugar together until combined. Add six eggs, one at a time, beating to combine before adding each egg. Combine with fruit mixture, 200g flour, spice and breadcrumbs.

Dip pudding cloth into boiling water. Squeeze out excess water. Spread hot cloth on bench and rub in remaining flour to cover a 38cm diameter. Place in a bowl and fill with pudding mix. Draw ends of cloth together, tie firmly with string and pull cloth to make pudding as round as possible. Boil in a large saucepan for 6hrs. Suspend pudding so it doesn't touch the bottom* and is submerged at all times. Hang in a cool, aerated spot or place in the fridge until ready to serve.

To make the custard, combine remaining 12 eggs and butter, orange juice, orange zest and castor sugar in a heavy-based saucepan. Cook on high heat for 3-5min, whisking continuously, then remove from heat and stir through remaining brandy. Continue to whisk until cold.

Chill in the fridge.

Reheat pudding by reboiling for 2hrs. Remove from bag, douse in brandy and ignite.

Serve with custard.

Serves 8-12

* Place a wooden or metal spoon over saucepan and tie pudding to spoon so it hangs in the middle of the saucepan.

Steamed cranberry and coconut pudding

THE coconut and rum combination gives this pudding a tropical feel, perfect for hot Christmas weather. This pudding is also delicious served cold as Christmas cake.


160g butter, soft
220g brown sugar
120g self-raising flour
100g sultanas
200g dried cranberries
60g shredded coconut
60g fresh breadcrumbs
50g almond meal
50g almond slivers
2 apples, peeled and grated
1 orange, juiced and zested
1/2 tsp mixed spice
4 eggs
60ml dark rum
2 limes, juiced and zested
1 tsp vanilla extract


Cream 60g butter and 120g brown sugar. Sift in flour and beat to combine. Stir through sultanas, cranberries, coconut, breadcrumbs, almond meal and slivers, grated apple, orange juice and zest, spice, eggs, half the rum and juice and zest of 1 lime. Mix well. Place in a 1-litre-capacity, well-greased pudding bowl. Cover with grease-proof paper, secure with string. Place in a steamer and steam for 4hrs.

To make rum butter, cream remaining butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Slowly add remaining rum, lime juice and zest and vanilla. Serve with warm pudding.

Serves 6-8


Source: This story originally ran in Epicure on December 6, 2011.