Love to make that traditional Christmas pudding but find yourself without the time as the 25th draws nearer? Prepare our three-in-one basic fruit mix can be made up to one month in advance and tastes even better without the stress of hurried baking.
1.Place basic fruit mixture in large bowl. Stir in butter, eggs, breadcrumbs and sifted flour.
2.Boiled Pudding – Fill a boiler three-quarters full with hot water, cover, bring to the boil. Have ready 2.5 metres (8 feet) of kitchen string and an extra ¾ cup (110g) plain flour. Wearing rubber gloves, dip prepared pudding cloth into boiling water; boil for 1 minute. Remove cloth from water, squeeze excess water from cloth. Working quickly, spread hot cloth on bench, rub extra flour into centre of cloth to cover an area of about 40cm (16 inches) in diameter, leave flour a little thicker in centre of cloth where “skin” on pudding will need to be thickest.
3.Place pudding mixture in centre of cloth, gather cloth evenly around pudding, avoiding any deep pleats, pat into a round shape. Tie cloth tightly with string as close to mixture as possible. Knot corners of cloth together to make pudding easier to remove from boiler.
4.Gently lower pudding into boiling water. You may wish to tie free ends of string to handles of boiler to suspend pudding. Cover boiler with a tight-fitting lid, boil rapidly for 5 hours. Replenish boiling water as needed to maintain boil and water level, there must be enough boiling water for the pudding to be immersed at all times.
5.Untie pudding from handles. Place handle of wooden spoon through knotted cloth loops to lift pudding from water. Do not put pudding on bench, suspend from spoon on rungs of an upturned stool. Pudding must be suspended freely. If pudding has been cooked correctly, cloth will start to dry in patches within a few minutes; hang pudding for 10 minutes.
6.Place pudding on board, cut string, gently peel away cloth to uncover about half the pudding. Scrape skin back onto the pudding with a palette knife if necessary. Invert pudding onto a plate and continue to peel back cloth completely. Stand at least 20 minutes or until skin darkens and pudding becomes firm before cutting to serve.
7.Steamed Pudding – Grease 2-litre (8-cup) pudding steamer, line base with baking paper. Spoon pudding mixture into steamer. Place a 30cm x 40cm (12-inch x 16-inch) sheet of foil on bench, grease foil, top with a sheet of baking paper. Fold a 5cm (2-inch) pleat crossways through centre of both sheets.
8.Place sheets, baking-paper-side-down over steamer; secure firmly with kitchen string or steamer lid. Crush foil and baking paper firmly around rim to help form a good seal.
9.Place pudding in large boiler with enough boiling water to come halfway up side of steamer. Cover boiler with tight-fitting lid, steam 5 hours. Replenish with boiling water as necessary to maintain boil and water level during cooking. Stand pudding for 15 minutes before turning onto plate.
10.TO DEFROST PUDDING Thaw frozen pudding for 2 days in the refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator 12 hours before reheating.
11.TO REHEAT BOILED PUDDING Remove plastic wrap and tie a clean, dry unfloured cloth around pudding. Boil for 2 hours following cooking instructions.
12.TO REHEAT STEAMED PUDDING Remove plastic wrap; return to steamer. Steam for 2 hours following the cooking instructions.
13.TO MICROWAVE To reheat the whole pudding, cover with microwave-safe plastic wrap; microwave on MEDIUM (50%) for about 15 minutes. To reheat four single serves at once, place on a microwave-safe plate, cover with microwave-safe plastic wrap; microwave on HIGH (100%) for about 3 minutes.