The year is almost over, Xmas looms in a couple of days and I have a bit of time on my hands.

Yesterday I made the annual Xmas pudding. I enlisted the help of my Tasmanian friend, Rob, who dropped in to pay his respects. We both set about creating the 2019 version of my mother’s Xmas pudding.

I thought it may be a nice idea to share the recipe on my blog page, together with a pictorial explanation of the necessary steps. Rob agreed to be photographed for the exercise.

Let me introduce you to Rob. He’s a young doctor working in a remote area of Tasmania and is very happy to help out on the Xmas pudding front on his time off from the hospital emergency department. I thought the Maltese apron very appropriate since we both met for the first time on the island of Malta back in 2008. ©johnmcrae


  • 6 Table spoons of Butter
  • 2 Small Cups of Brown Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3 Cups of flour
  • 1 Cup of Sultanas
  • 1 Cup of Raisins
  • 1 Cup of Mixed Peel
  • 1/2 Cup of Currants
  • 2 Oz Blanched Almonds
  • 2 Tsp Bi-Carbonate of Soda
  • 6 Tsp Mixed Spice
  • 2 Tsp of Cinnamon
  • 1 Tsp of Nutmeg
  • 1 Tsp Ginger
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon of Treacle
  • Vanilla Essence
  • Essence of Brandy or in fact Brandy. You choose
  • 4 Tablespoons of Apricot Jam
  • 1/2 Cup of Orange Juice

Additional notes on ingredients: I don’t add the orange juice in my version of mums recipe….doesn’t make sense to me. I also add prunes to the mix. Cut up quite finely of course. I also put in 3 eggs, rather than 2….creative license. You can add and substitute different fruits, such as glazed cherries (I don’t like them), apricots, pears….etc.

Actually you can take quite a bit of creative license with a plum pudding…’s not like the delicate sponge, souffle or cream puff, where too much variation may result in tears. So feel free to add your own personal touch whatever that may be…..


Gather all the ingredients….

Make sure you have all the ingredients ready at your finger tips ©johnmcrae

Prepare the fruit: Measure it out, chop where necessary and put it all into a large bowl

  • Almonds need to be cut up into smaller pieces
Rob cutting the almonds into smaller pieces. Note the body position for better leverage. You will find your own style and best practice for this activity. ©johnmcrae
Close up of Rob’s almond cutting style with his “healing hands”. ©johnmcrae
In this frame Rob has decided to sit down as he further completes the task of cutting the almonds into smaller pieces. He looks very happy with the way things are going so far. ©johnmcrae
  • Sultanas don’t need to be cut…put them in the bowl directly
  • Currants are already very small so no cutting required
  • Raisins should be cut into thirds (in my opinion)
Rob showing how he has measured out 1 cup of sultanas, as the recipe suggests. ©johnmcrae
Rob making very sure he has delivered the required 1 cup of sultanas. His scientific training has given him an appreciation of sticking to the recipe and the suggested amounts. ©johnmcrae
I suggest using home grown Australian fruit for your plum pudding. Why go for that more expensive imported produce when it is simply not necessary. ©johnmcrae
As mentioned raisins need to be cut into smaller pieces. I would say thirds is what you should aim for. Here Rob is happily cutting the raisins into thirds. ©johnmcrae
Prunes are large. They certainly need to be cut into smaller pieces and be careful to remove the stone….Rob, completely focused, is showing his brilliant technique of “prune stone removal” in the above pic. ©johnmcrae
  • put all the fruit together in a bowl and mix
  • essence and or alcohol can be added at this stage to the fruit
  • Some recipes advise soaking the fruit for a day or two in the alcohol/essence before preparing the rest of the pudding. But who has 2 days to spend on making a plum pudding?
The bowl containing the mixture of fruit and essence/alcohol ©johnmcrae

Beat the butter and sugar in a bowl, either with your hand, wooden spoon or in a mix-master type beater. See pic below: The butter and sugar is beaten until the consistency becomes homogenous and creamy….in fact one says, “cream the butter and sugar”.

This is the mix-master we used to beat and mix our pudding. It’s an old kenwood that I purchased in my first year of university many, many, many years ago….it’s still going. ©johnmcrae
View of the butter and sugar ready for mixing ©johnmcrae
Here the butter and sugar is creamy, well mixed and ready for the next step ©johnmcrae

Next: Add the eggs Note…..the eggs should be added at room temperature. Take them out of the fridge well before (if you keep your eggs in the fridge). I put the eggs in a bowl and beat them a little first before I put them in the pudding mixture. I add half the quantity of eggs and stir them until they are blended into the mixture….I then add the rest of the eggs and beat them similarly.

Rob is adding the last of the eggs to the mixture. ©johnmcrae

At this point you can add the vanilla essence….a couple of tea spoons.

Rob displays the vanilla essence©johnmcrae

We’re up to the mid point of the process….the adding of the dry ingredients and the fruit.

Make sure you sift all the dry ingredients together before you add them to the mixture….see pic below.

Rob is sifting together all the dry ingredients: the flour, soda and all the spices. ©johnmcrae

Add the flour…..about half the quantity. Once that is well combined into the mixture you then add around half the quantity of fruit. When the fruit is mixed in you may add any alcohol or essence that you decide to put in for extra flavour. You repeat the process until all the dry ingredients and fruit are combined.

For this process you can shed the electric mixer and use your hands or a wooden spoon to hand mix the flour and the fruit. Some die-hards would never use the electric beater….they feel you get a better result if hands or a wooden spoon are enlisted. I’ll leave it up to you.

Rob is adding the sifted flour etc. ©johnmcrae
Rob is adding the last of the fruit. ©johnmcrae
At any point you may take a break and have a short rest. Here Rob is reclining in the chair and having a chat to our friend Mimi who dropped in to say hello. ©johnmcrae
Rob and Mimi are being silly….sometimes a bit of playfulness breaks the tension….making a plum pudding requires a great deal of concentration and commitment. ©johnmcrae

Lastly, once all the ingredients so far have been successfully stirred together, you add the final ingredients, being, the treacle and the apricot jam. A note: these two things are optional, in my opinion. I do add them but if you chose not to….it’s not like you going to ruin your pudding. It will still be a good pudding.

Rob hand mixing the final ingredients, treacle and jam, into the mixture, flanked by Mimi who is holding the jar of treacle. ©johnmcrae

Finally, it’s time to pour your pudding mixture into the centre of a square piece of calico. The calico is pre-cut and also soaked in cold water. Wring out any excess water from the calico….pour out the mixture….then gather the rag and form a closure, a bit like a “money bag”. Make sure all the sides of the rag are gathered together and you haven’t missed a bit.

Then tie off the top of the rag with string . Make sure you tie it well….go around several times and tie it off several times. Don’t be stingy on the length of the string….hopefully there will be a good bit of it left after tying which can be used to hang the pudding.

Important….leave a bit of space at the top between the mixture and the level of the rag you tie off…..that is, allow a bit of space for the pudding to expand in the rag…it will.

Rob pouring out the pudding onto the square of calico. ©johnmcrae
Here’s Rob with the final product, after tying off the top of the pudding. ©johnmcrae
Rob reminds us that leaving a long piece of string is a good idea because it can be used to suspend the pudding if you need to store it. ©johnmcrae

Now you need to boil your pudding. Gently lower your pudding into a pot of boiling water. Make sure your water is boiling on the stove and that your pot is big enough to comfortably accommodate the size of your pudding.

Boil your pudding for approximately 3 – 4 hours. It’s a bit of a process because you can’t really leave it during that time. You will need to keep an eye on the water level….continually topping up so your pudding doesn’t boil dry.

Note also….put a small saucer at the bottom of pot so that your pudding is not sitting directly on the bottom, but cushioned from direct contact with the heat.

At the end of 4 hrs take your pudding out of the hot water. It is now ready to eat…..un-peel the calico and serve with fresh cream or brandy sauce.

Or… it usual, you eat your pudding at a later date. Hanging the pudding for a period of time is suggested as it allows all the flavours and spices to penetrate the whole pudding. Some people hang theirs for months.

A “hung pudding” will require re-heating. Although the pudding is cooked when you go to re-heat it you will need to re-place it into a pot of boiling water, as before. In order to re-heat the pudding thoroughly you will need to leave it for at least 2 hours….for the heat to really penetrate the mass of the object. The water should already be boiling when you add the pudding.

You can cheat and take it out of the rag, cold and put cut pieces in the micro wave….this is not as dramatic and nowhere near a nice. But go ahead…..

If you are not going to eat the pudding straight away you can store it. Find a place you can suspend your pudding. My safe place is the bathroom.

So that’s it! That’s one version of a plum pudding recipe. Let me know how you go.

Finally I’d like thank Rob for his good nature and sense of fun in allowing me to photograph him preparing the pudding….much better to have a few visuals. Thanks to Mimi for dropping in and offering her brand of assistance. ©johnmcrae