Saturday, September 17, 2011

Christmas pudding

This is an old family recipe. It makes dark, moist, steamed puddings, traditional in England on Christmas day.

These are best made months in advance and left to mature. We are late this year, I originally planned to do this back in January but never got around to it. Never mind, any left over will be perfect for Christmas 2012.


1 lb each of: raisins, currants, sultanas, prunes (chopped into sultana-sized pieces).
Approx. 2 pints of brandy (this is our secret addition)
1 lb breadcrumbs
1 lb brown sugar
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 lb mixed peel
1 lb plain flour
6 eggs
1 lb suet
1 dessert spoon marmalade
1 dessert spoon coffee
1/2 pint milk

Note on quantities

These quantities are direct from our recipe, but this makes a huge amount. I guess this is from the days of larger families. We always halve this, which makes three decent-sized puddings, each one giving maybe six to eight servings.


Measure out the dried fruit (raisins, currants, sultanas, prunes) into a sealable container. Add enough brandy to cover the fruit. Seal the container and leave the fruit to soak for at least a day.

It doesn't matter if you leave it for longer (a few days), that just gives more time for the brandy to soak in.

Measure all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Add the fruit and the remaining ingredients, and mix well.

Turn the mixture out into greased pudding basins. Don't over-fill. The mixture should be just below the top.

Cover each basin with a sheet of parchment paper and then a clean cloth or handkerchief. The paper and cloth should be pleated to allow the mixture to rise. Tie the covering with string.

I always make a loop of string over the top as well, to make it easy to lift the basins in and out of the pan.

For each pudding, put an inch of water into a large saucepan, put the basin into the pan, bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 4 hours. Check the pan occasionally and top up with boiling water if needed.

Don't let the pan boil dry, and don't put so much water in that it can bubble over the top of the basin. The water level should be about 1/4 to 1/2 the way up the basin at all times.

Leave to cool, then store in a cool, dry place.

When you want to serve, re-heat the pudding for an hour or so in a pan of water, like when cooking, then turn out onto a plate. If you want to be fancy, you can pour a shot of brandy over the pudding and light it before serving. Be sure to dim the lights so you can see the blue flames.

Serve with any or all of: ice cream, custard, cream, brandy butter (the most traditional).

Any leftovers can also be reheated in a microwave, but be careful just to warm through and not to overdo it.


  1. Hi Ian,
    Thanks for the recipe and whoops a reminder that it will soon be that time, yet again. Time seems to go so fast. I wonder why I even bother putting the decorations away :)
    Hope you are having a good weekend, eh....

  2. You should post a picture of the goodies as a final presentation. :D

    By candlelight!

  3. Gary, have you encountered Xmas pud during your time in England? It doesn't seem to be a big thing over here so I wondered if you'd tried it yet.

    Diane, I'll try to remember, but that moment is months away yet. These will now go into the back of a cupboard somewhere until the right time.

  4. Just the list of ingredients sounds fabulous! TWO PINTS of brandy? Is it safe near naked flames?
    I do agree with you about the maturity factor although January is a little early to start thinking about the next Christmas. I'm still taking little bits of the pudding in April!
    Click here for Bazza’s Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

  5. That 2 pints sounds a lot, doesn't it Bazza? Of course, we only do half that recipe, and that is just a wild guess at how much to use. We sloshed a lot into the fruit, certainly in the region of a pint, but how much to use is entirely discretionary.

    We just go for a lot because it makes the end result that much moister and richer.

  6. That sounds wonderful. Will save the recipe. It'll give me the impression I'm eating something found only inside the cover of a historical romance. Unless of course I bomb it while I'm trying to cook it. :)

  7. Laila, that's the beauty of this recipe...there's almost no cooking skill involved. It's just measuring and mixing all the ingredients together, and steaming the results in a basin. Nothing complicated at all.

  8. Nice! I've never tried Christmas pudding before. So, where do you store it?

  9. Mysti, we just keep them in their pudding basins at the back of a cupboard. If storing them for any length of time, we take the covering off once every six months or so to check they're still OK.

  10. Wowww you have put to shame all my recipes, this is really impressing but also so much work. Congrats :)

  11. unikorna, it's deceptive really. It sounds like a lot but it isn't really. It's just spread out over a long time.

  12. Yum! I was going to say it's too early for Christmas, but really, it's not. It's only 3 months away!

  13. You are right Jennifer. In all other respects, it's way too early to think about Christmas, but for the making of puddings I make an exception.

  14. My grandma made one that had the most delicious caramel-like sauce drizzled all over it. :) Sadly she's passed on...I'll have to see if anyone still has her recipe. If not, I'll give yours a try! :)

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  15. Angela, a caramel sauce sounds delicious. It actually sounds rather like a treacle pudding, which is generally lighter and more spongy than a true Christmas pud.


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