The Proof is in the Pudding at Adamstown Pudding Kitchen
There’s no better example of the saying ‘many hands make light work’ than the Adamstown Pudding Kitchen. Each year the not-for-profit organisation, tucked quietly away behind the Adamstown Uniting Church, cooks, wraps and sells more than 15,000 Christmas puddings to help those in need.
It would be a pretty good effort for a fully-staffed commercial enterprise, so when you consider the Adamstown kitchen only operates from July to December and has just three paid employees, it is nothing short of amazing.
The secret to their success – apart from a closely guarded recipe – is the army of passionate volunteers who generously give their time to help out with everything from cooking and wrapping the puddings to manning the shopfront and various stalls where the tasty treats are sold.
“We’re making more than 15,000 a year and they’re all handmade – hand mixed, boiled in cloth and wrapped up in gift boxes or calico,” Adamstown Pudding Kitchen sales and marketing manager Linda Barnier said.
“We’re a not-for-profit organisation, and we have just three paid staff including our head chef Sandra Bevan, but there are so many more volunteers who have a hand in it all and we couldn’t do it without them.
“It’s really hard to explain to other people the family that it is. They all know each other, they love doing it, and they’re passionate about it because they know the money goes to such deserving causes.”
The tradition was established in 1971 when a parishioner, overjoyed by her younger brother’s safe return from the Vietnam War, used her grandmother’s family recipe to make puddings for a church fundraiser.
More than 40 years later, charity and community are still the most important ingredients in the operation of the Adamstown Pudding Kitchen, with profits from the burgeoning business used by the church to support a range of charitable causes within the Hunter and further afield.
The proof, so they say, has certainly been in the pudding, with more than $1 million donated to worthy projects since its establishment.
Chief among the beneficiaries these days is Lifeline Hunter and Central Coast, while the organisation also supports a number of overseas projects to provide fresh water in Africa, school education in the Pacific and community development in East Timor.
Of course, its charitable efforts wouldn’t be as successful if it wasn’t for the high quality of its culinary offerings – and these are certainly second to none.
Tantalising the taste buds of satisfied customers across the Hunter, throughout Australia and around the world, the Adamstown Pudding Kitchen’s core product – the traditional Christmas pudding – is still cooked using the same family recipe.
While the ingredients of each pudding are published on their website, Linda said the exact measurements and the method for combining them was a carefully guarded secret.
“People come from all over for these puddings. They’re moist and rich - but not too rich - with the right blend of spices, fruit and flour… it’s the taste that people remember from their grandma’s recipes,” she said.
The Adamstown Pudding Kitchen has branched out over the years to create low-fat and gluten-free versions, while this year they are also launching a new range of gourmet puddings they hope will allow the business to reach all new heights.
“Currently we open from July to December and 80 percent of our sales are done in October, November and December,” Linda said.
“But we’re trying to push the business to be able to operate 12 months of the year and so we’ve launched the gourmet range of puddings accompanied by decadent sauces, which we hope will allow us to push into the January to June period.
“And we’re already finding that this new gourmet range has turned quite a few heads - people who say they aren’t pudding people for whatever reason simply love these.”
With varieties including apricot and ginger, date, lemon and sultana and Linda’s favourite – the double choc cherry pudding (which she claims is absolutely “to die for” when accompanied by the white chocolate and fresh cardamom sauce), we’re sure they’ll end up on dessert menus all year round.
The puddings are available for purchase at kitchen shopfront, which is located behind the Adamstown Uniting Church and is open Monday through Saturday each week. Shoppers can also order the puddings online at www.adamstownpuddingkitchen.org.au or check out their stall at the weekly Newcastle City Farmers Market.
The Adamstown Pudding Kitchen is also looking for more volunteers – to find out how you can help contact Sandra Bevan on 4952 2724.