Of all the festive foods, there is one that I truly look forward to every year: Christmas pudding. Growing up, my Grandma would make these epic Christmas puddings from scratch and I would devour them. Little did I know how much work was involved. So when my Grandma got on in age and could no longer lift the 5-plus kilo puddings from the boiler, she tasked me with carrying on the tradition.
Grandma’s go-to recipe is from the November 8, 1978 edition of The Australian Women’s Weekly. So you know it’s instantly iconic. Grandma handed it all over to me — the recipe clipping, the giant metal pot, the cloths to wrap the pud in, even the ball of string. But the OG recipe takes two days to make, and involves boiling the pudding for six hours in a giant pot and constantly topping up the water, then hanging it up to try, or burn your fingers trying to unwrap it. And he’s a hefty lad. Look at the size of this thing:
Even after two family get-togethers, I was still eating that thing for weeks. It counts as a serving of fruit, right? And the custard is dairy. A balanced diet if you ask me.
Anyway, with the heat in Western Sydney (it clocked in at 47 degrees last summer, thank you Mother Nature) and the fact I’m a busy lady (aren’t we all?), I had to find another way to make a Christmas pud. Enter the trusty slow cooker (which my Grandmother offloaded to me because she had two). But because the classic Women’s Weekly recipe was massive, I had to work out how to size down while still maintaining the flavour balance. The key here is a mix of sugars — you want to use white sugar and brown sugar. And don’t go cheap on the dried fruit — buy a good quality mix or you’re wasting your time.
So here it is:
Melly’s Sleepy Christmas Pudding
- 2 cups plain flour
- 2 cups mixed fruit
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 4 tbs butter
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 cup cold water
- 1 tsp all spice
Melt the butter in the hot water, and dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the cold water. Mix them with all the remaining ingredients in a bowl and let stand overnight, covered, in the fridge. In the morning, give the mix a good stir and pour it into a well-greased pudding bowl (bonus tip: it can help to add a circle of baking paper to the bottom of the basin to prevent the pudding from sticking). Now I use a 2-litre slow cooker with 1 litre of water in it and boil the pud on high for 6 hours. Set the timer before you go to bed and it’ll be all done by the time you wake up.
Even my Grandma was impressed with this effort:
If you want to booze up your Christmas pudding, you can drizzle rum over the top while it’s still hot, providing kiddies and designated drivers won’t be eating it. Personally, I like my pudding served warm with cold, thick, gourmet custard on top (again, don’t go cheap). But it’s also excellent served cold with a glass of wine.
You can put your own spin on it by playing round with the dried fruit combo, or perhaps even working in some cacao or chocolate. I’ve used this Christmas pudding method to make a delicious banana and sultana pudding using my go-to healthy banana bread mix and boiling it in the slow cooker rather than baking it in the oven. It’s great served with Greek yogurt and honey as a fancy breakfast or guilt-free dessert.
Consider this my Christmas gift to you all.