Blending tradition with time: Pudding Recipe

Many families still celebrate long-established traditions such as Christmas pudding, with brandy sauce, trifle, Kiwi favourite Pavlova with whipped cream and strawberries, and classic fruit mince pies.

The origins of some, such as the Christmas pudding, date back to the 14th-century. In those days it was a sort of porridge known as ‘frumenty’, thickened with eggs, breadcrumbs, dried fruit and beer or spirits.

The Victorians took it to the next level, fine-tuning it into the pudding many of us make today.

Traditionally it has 13 ingredients – representing Jesus and his 12 disciples. These include raisins, currants, suet, brown sugar, breadcrumbs, citron, lemon peel, orange peel, flour, mixed spices, eggs, milk and brandy, the latter being poured over the pudding and set alight. The flaming brandy is said to represent the passion
of Christ.

Christmas puddings were originally boiled in a muslin pudding cloth, although today they are often steamed in a bowl.

Traditionally, every family member stirs the pudding three times and makes a secret wish. And a favourite tradition was to stir in small trinkets (some people still do). Whoever found the sixpence was said to have good fortune coming their way; a small crown denoted king or queen for the day.

This recipe is one of my family favourites, hand-written by my grandmother before immigrating to New Zealand from Scotland. Serve with brandy sauce, or vanilla custard and cream.

It’s also amazing cut into slices (if any is left over) the following day and pan fried in butter then served with a small sprinkle of salt.

  • Prep Time: 10.5 hours
  • Makes: Two puddings
  • Serves 10


2 heaped cups flour
2 heaped cups breadcrumbs
340g shredded suet
340g brown sugar
340g raisins
340g currants
56g mixed peel
6 eggs
30g blanched,
chopped almonds
1 large lemon, grated rind
and juice
2 tsp mixed spice


1. Mix ingredients together and beat well

2. Add trinkets (wrapped in foil)

3. Divide into two pudding basins with sealable lids

4. Boil six hours initially

5. Boil a further 4 hours before serving.

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