From the English repertoire of steamed fruit puddings comes this classic that uses sago as a surprising, key ingredient. No doubt thrift and ease were behind its invention – this pudding is way more economical and a whole pile simpler to make than traditional plum pudding. Dried cherries give a glamorous edge but you can use raisins (or sultanas) instead. Despite the long soaking time and extended steaming, this is very quick and easy to put together.






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  • 340 g (2 cups) dried cherries, roughly chopped
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) brandy
  • 100 g (½ cup) sago
  • 400 ml milk
  • 40 g (¼ cup) chopped glace orange peel
  • 200 g (1 cup) glace cherries, coarsely chopped
  • 120 g (2 cups, lightly packed) breadcrumbs from day-old ciabatta or similiar
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 150 g (⅔ cup) caster sugar
  • ½ cup store-bought prepared suet mixture
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tbsp water
  • custard or ice cream, to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Soaking time 8 hours

Combine the cherries and brandy in a bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and stand for 8 hours or overnight.
Place the sago in a mixing bowl, pour over milk and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Transfer to a saucepan and stir over a medium-low heat until sago is soft and translucent, spoon into a mixing bowl and allow to cool at room temperature.

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil for steaming and lightly grease and flour a 2 litre (8 cup) capacity pudding basin.

Combine sago, dried cherry mixture, orange peel, glacé cherries, breadcrumbs, sugar, suet and egg together. Stir until well combined.

In a small bowl, combine the bicarbonate of soda with water then mix into the pudding mixture. Spoon into prepared basin, cover with a tight-fitting lid and steam over the prepared water for 3½ hours, adding a little extra water to the saucepan as necessary to keep the level half way up the sides of the basin. Remove from saucepan and stand for 5 minutes before removing pudding from basin. Serve hot or warm with custard or ice cream.


Photography, styling and food preparation by china squirrel.