the goods3ft sq unbleached, mid-weight calico / muslin
the pudding cloth
The cloth is probably the easiest pert to screw up when you make the pudding.
You have to use unbleached calico / muslin. A mid-weight fabric. Use a piece about 2 /2 - 3 ft square.
It's better to have a piece which is too big; you can always trim it after the pudding has been tied and about to go into the pot.
Soak the cloth overnight in cold water, change the water and boil it up briefly. This will get rid of any sizing in the fabric and get any shrinkage over and dine with.
Meanwhile, have a large pot half-filled with water and a smaller saucepan of water on the stove. Bring both to the boil.
Submerge a sturdy, old saucer in the large pot. This acts as a buffer between the bottom of the pudding and the hot pan; it helps prevent any scorching. It also creates a mindless little rattle in the background to remind you the pudding is still on the stove (trust me; in the course of five hours, it's easy to forget about it!)
Spread the cloth out onto a cleared, clean surface. Have about 1/3 cup all-purpose flour on hand, also some twine, scissors and a colander.
You might want to wear some rubber gloves as this is all best done whilst the cloth is hot and steaming.
Scatter the flour over the surface of the cloth and gently rub it into a circle wide enough to encompass the entire mass of the pudding. Use the flat of your palm to spread the flour. The steam from the wet cloth will help transform the starch in the flour into a barrier which will prevent your pudding from the water. The flour should be a little denser in the centre of the cloth.
Mound the batter into the centre of the cloth and
gather up all four corners. Pick the pudding up by
gathering all the edges of the cloth in one fist and
lift it into a colander. Make sure that every edge of
the cloth is above your fist.
Leave very little swelling room for the pudding (this
is hard to gauge; take a look at the picture
Tie with a length of string. Very tightly. Go around and around and work and, if you can figure it out, tie a little loop into the knot. This gives you an easy way to lift the pudding in and out of the pot. You can also loop a wooden spoon through it and prop the ends of the pudding cloth over it so that they don't dangle in the water.
Give the ends one good tug to make sure that the cloth is as snug as possible. Lower the pudding gently into the boiling water. The water level needs to come up to the top of the pudding, just below the knot.
Cover with a lid and boil for 5 hours.
Keep the smaller saucepan filled with water and at a steady simmer. Every 30 minutes or so, check the water level in the pudding pot and re-fill it with hot water from the small saucepan. This keeps everything at a boiling temperature.