All the individual fruits had to be thoroughly washed, dried and stoned, unlike the easy-to-open packets available today. The fruit was soaked in either Sherry or ‘Hospital’ Brandy. When the day came to make the cake and pudding, the butter was left out to soften, butter papers saved to line the cake tin, and it was ‘all hands on deck’, to grate the suet for the pudding, and mix the ingredients for both. Everyone got to stir the cake mix and make a wish.
The silver threepences or sixpences were sterilized, ready to be stirred into the pudding. Sadly we can’t use today’s coins because of their metal content. However, it’s now possible to buy vintage coins to continue this tradition.
The Royal Australian Mint, has an on-line store where you can buy bags of vintage threepences and sixpences.
This recipe uses half of the Basic Fruit Mix and will make one large and one small pudding.
- 1/2 the basic fruit mix
- 250g butter, melted, cooled
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 4 cups stale breadcrumbs, lightly packed
- ¼ cup plain flour, sifted
To make the puddings
Grease one 2 litre pudding basin and one 1 litre pudding basin with melted butter and place a circle of baking paper in the base of each.
Melt the butter in the microwave on Med Low for about 5 minutes or until just melted. Cool a little.
Add all the ingredients to the basic fruit mixture, and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon, or don some disposable gloves and use your hands – so much easier.
I find the kitchen sink, very well cleaned and dried, is the best place to mix large quantities of pudding and cake mixes. Plenty of room to stir the mix, and very easy to clean afterwards.
Spoon the pudding mixture into the prepared basins, pressing in well and smooth over the top.
Place a large square of foil on the bench, grease. Top with baking paper, grease. Fold a 5cm pleat crossways through both sheets. Place the sheets, baking paper side down, over the basin; secure firmly with string.
Crush the foil and baking paper firmly around the rim of the basins to help form a good seal.
When ready to cook, put a trivet or small up-turned plate in the base of the pot, place the pudding bowl on top, and fill the pot with boiling water to come three quarters of the way up the side of the pudding basin. Cover with a secure fitting lid.
KEEP THE KETTLE READY WITH BOILING WATER
Simmer for about 5 – 6 hours.
Check every hour or so, and top up the boiling water when necessary.
Remove the puddings from the pot. When cool enough to handle, remove the foil and paper and allow the top of the puddings to dry overnight, this will help prevent any mould forming, especially if you keep the pudding for several months, which is definitely recommended.