Alison Holst's Plum Pudding!

December 15, 2020

Plum Pudding is a firm favourite at HQ, and not just the Pete Cromer brooch kind! Here’s EW team member Kelly’s go-to Christmas recipe from New Zealand best-selling food writer Dame Alison Holst.


500-600gms dried and /or crystallised fruit *
¼ C sherry, rum, stout or orange juice
2 C bread flour or plain flour
½ C (packed) brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
½ - 1 tsp mixed spice
½ - 1 tsp ground cloves
125gms butter, melted
finely grated rind of 1 large orange
1 large egg
extra liquid if necessary


Select a heatproof bowl (or loaf tin) which will hold 4 – 5 cups and will fit in your slow cooker. Coat the dry bowl with non-stick spray, then line with microwave-proof cling film.

*Use whatever dried and /or crystallised fruit you like. For special occasions we use ¼ - ½ cup of prunes (which are dried purple plums), crystallised pineapple and ginger, dried cranberries, raisins, currants and apricots. If preferred, use prunes, raisins, sultanas and currants etc. (For our recent puddings I have used 300gms of ‘Fruit Nuggets’ and about ¼ cp ‘Razz Cherries’ (bought from bulk foods departments) and 300gms of the dried and crystallised fruits listed above).

You can prepare the fruit a short time before you need it, or do it ahead and refrigerate it up to a week. Using kitchen scissors, chop all the fruit into pieces no bigger than dried cranberries and put them in a heavy plastic bag. Add the liquid/s of your choice to the bag, (grating all the rind from the orange first, if juicing it), then close the bag, leaving a small air hole, and microwave everything for about 5 minutes, until all the fruit is hot, plump and shiny. The liquid will soak into the fruit as it cools. Turn the bag over occasionally during this time. Cool the bag of mixture to room temperature before using it.

Turn a 2 litre or larger slow cooker on to HIGH with 1-2 cups of hot water in it.

Mix together the next six (dry) ingredients in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a small bowl, then add the grated orange rind. Beat in the eggs with a fork, then tip it into the flour mixture, stirring until no dry flour remains. Add the cool soaked fruit and mix everything gently but thoroughly. The mixture should be wet enough to drop from your spoon. If it isn’t, add more liquid, using a little of several liquids rather than just one. (Refrigerated marinated fruit may require up to ¾ cup of extra liquid)

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pudding bowl, levelling the top. Cover with foil, fold the edges down over the bowl. Lower the pudding bowl into the slow cooker bowl and put on the lid. Cook on HIGH for 8 –12 hours. Turn out while warm since puddings less likely to stick to the container at this stage, then wrap and cool completely.

Serve with brandy butter, custard or whipped cream, (plain or with liqueur or spirits and sugar added) or refrigerate (for six weeks or so), or freeze. Thaw before reheating, still in the film, in the sprayed, covered bowl. Reheat in the slow cooker set to HIGH, with water around the bowl, for 4 – 5 hours, or on LOW for twice this time.

VARIATION: If preferred, cook the pudding in a bowl or loaf tin of similar capacity, or in several smaller containers like cups, each covered with foil, in a covered pot (or covered pots) containing enough simmering water to reach about half way up the sides of the containers, for 4 –5 hours depending on their size. Stand each bowl on a rack, preserving jar ring, or crumpled foil during cooking, and check at intervals to make sure that pot does not boil dry.

NOTES: With longer cooking, in a slow cooker or pot, the pudding darkens, and the flavour improves. The puddings are actually cooked through in a shorter time than is suggested here. If you have a choice, and are making the pudding a short time before it is to be eaten, I think the flavour of the slow cooked pudding is better.

Whatever you do, don’t leave out the orange rind. If you have an inefficient grater, (microplane type grater) use the rind of two oranges for best flavour.


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