What would Christmas dinner be without a Christmas pudding? Not just any old Christmas pudding. YOUR Chrismas pudding. Real heroes roll up their sleeves on Stir-Up Sunday!
Up your game from even the best shop bought Christmas puddings with this great selection from the top chefs.
This light, fruity Christmas pudding recipe makes buying one from the shops a thing of the past.
Did you know? “Stir-up Sunday”, the first Sunday before Advent, was the correct time to make it, and everyone in the house should stir the mix from east to west to symbolise the journey of the Magi.
- 500 g mixed dried fruit (such as cranberries, cherries, apricots, sultanas and raisins)
- 100 g dates , chopped up
- 3 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
- 125 g suet
- 1 orange , zest of
- 125 g plain flour
- 125 g caster sugar
- 150 g fresh white breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons vin santo or brandy
- 1 handful chopped nuts, such as pecans, Brazils or hazelnuts
- 1 medium free-range egg
- 150 ml milk
- golden syrup , to serve
- Grease a 1.5 litre pudding bowl.
- Mix all the ingredients together, except the golden syrup. Put the mixture into the greased bowl and cover with a double layer of aluminium foil. Tie a piece of string round the side of the bowl.
- Place in a large saucepan with water halfway up the sides of the bowl. Bring the water to the boil, put on a tight-fitting lid, and simmer for 3 hours.
(Don’t forget to check the water regularly, making sure that it never boils dry, because if it does, it will burn and the bowl will crack.)
- When it’s ready, remove the foil, turn out on to a plate, drizzle with golden syrup and decorate it as you like. You can also light it with brandy if you want to be really fancy.
James got his love of cooking from his beloved grandmother Marjorie. “My grandmother was a huge influence in my life and inadvertently inspired me to be a chef. She baked and cooked, and she was just wonderful.” This is Granny Marin’s Christmas pudding.
Did you know? A garnish of holly represented the crown of thorns the flaming brandy the Passion.
- 350g sultana
- 350g currant
- 140g dried chopped
- 100g mixed peel
- 85g glacé cherry, halved
- 100g dried apricots, chopped
- 100g stem chopped
- plus 3 tbsp of the syrup
- 2 grated
- juice and zest 2
- 6 large beaten
- 250g shredded suet
- 250g fresh white breadcrumbs
- 350g light muscovado sugar
- 175g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- butter for greasing
- Soak the sultanas, currants, figs, mixed peel, cherries and the apricots in the brandy in a bowl overnight if possible or for at least a few hrs (if you don’t have time for this, place the fruit in a microwaveable bowl with the brandy and give it a quick blast in the microwave to plump up). In a larger bowl, mix the ginger and syrup, apples, orange juice and zest, eggs, suet, crumbs, sugar and flour. Using your fingers or a wooden spoon, mix in the soaked fruit and mixed spice.
- Butter 2 x 1.5-litre pudding basins and divide the mixture between them, filling almost to the rim. Smooth the tops and cover with 2 circles of greaseproof paper. Cover each pudding with a sheet of foil with a folded pleat down the centre, to allow the pudding to expand, and secure everything by tying it tightly with some string. Stand the puddings in a deep, large pan (or 2 if that’s easier) on trivets or upturned saucers and pour boiling water around so it comes about a third of the way up. Cover the pan and steam the puddings for 5 hrs, topping up with more boiling water when necessary.
- Let the puddings cool down before removing the foil and greaseproof paper, then cover with cling film over the top and store in a cool, dry place if you aren’t using them straight away. This is the time you can drizzle them with more booze in the run-up to Christmas if you have time. To reheat, steam the pudding for 1 hr more before turning out and flaming with hot brandy.
Gordon Ramsay’s Christmas pudding with whiskey cream. Recipe from Christmas with Gordon by Gordon Ramsay.
Did you know? Most recipes included 13 ingredients to represent Christ and the apostles.
- 210 g butter, softened, plus extra to grease
- Finely grated zest of 1 orange
- 3 tbsp maple syrup, plus optional extra to drizzle
- 3 bay leaves
- 210 g light brown soft sugar
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 100 g self-raisin flour
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- pinch of fine sea salt
- 150 ml double cream
- dash of whiskey, to taste, plus extra to flambé
- dash of Irish cream liqueur, to taste
- Grease a one and a half litre pudding basin with butter, scatter the orange zest in the bottom and pour the maple syrup on top. Put the bay leaves in the middle and press down.
- Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and light. With the motor running on low speed, slowly add the beaten eggs, making sure each addition is incorporated before the next is added.
- Sift in the flour, baking powder, ground cloves and salt and fold through with a large metal spoon.
- Spoon the mixture into the pudding basin. Lay a buttered and pleated sheet of greaseproof paper on top of the bowl, buttered side down, and cover with a sheet of pleated foil of the same size. Secure tightly with string under the rim of the bowl.
- Stand the basin on a trivet or an upturned ramekin in a large saucepan. Pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the side of the basin and bring to a simmer. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer over a low heat for one and a half hours, checking the water level every 30 minutes or so and topping up with boiling water as needed.
- Meanwhile, for the whiskey cream, whisk the cream with a dash each of whiskey and cream liqueur in a large bowl to soft peaks. Transfer to a serving bowl.
- To check that the pudding is ready, unwrap and insert a skewer into the middle; it should come out clean. To unmould, loosen the sides of the sponge, then invert a warmed serving plate over the hot pudding and turn both over to unmould the pudding onto the plate. Glaze with some more maple syrup, if you wish.
- To flambé the pudding, warm a little whiskey in a small pan and ignite it at the table with a match, then pour on top of the pudding. Serve with the whiskey cream.
Adapted from Rosemary Hume by my mum, who says, “Don’t skimp on the boiling; it’s what makes it good and dark.”
Did you know? Some families drop silver coins in to represent luck, wishbones for wealth, a thimble for thrift, a ring for marriage and an anchor for safe harbour. It must have been like eating the home of the Borrowers.
- 900g dried vine fruits
- 200ml brandy, plus more for flaming
- 110g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 2½ tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 170g suet
- 170g light muscovado sugar
- 55g flaked almonds
- Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp marmalade
- 225g fresh white breadcrumbs
- 4 eggs
- 300ml ale or stout
- Butter, for greasing
- Put the fruit in a bowl with 100ml of brandy, cover and leave overnight.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and spices, then stir in the suet, fruit, sugar, almonds, lemon, marmalade and breadcrumbs. Beat the eggs, then stir in, along with the ale.
- Butter two one-litre pudding basins, fill with cake mix and cover with a layer each of greased paper and foil, both pleated in the middle to allow for expansion. Secure with string.
- Put a metal jam-jar lid or tart tin in the bottom of a large pan, put the basins on top and pour in boiling water to come a third of the way up the sides.
- Cover, simmer gently for six hours (top up the water as necessary), then remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
- When cold, remove the paper and foil, poke holes in the top of the puds and pour over the brandy.
- Tightly wrap in clingfilm and store in a cool, dry place.
- On Christmas Day, press foil-wrapped 20p coins and one £1 coin into the pud, wrap in a double layer of clingfilm, and simmer for two to three hours. Turn out, flame with warmed brandy and serve with apple brandy butter (150g soft butter, 50g soft icing sugar and a splosh of apple brandy beaten until smooth).
Once you’ve tasted the dried fruit soaked in Pedro Ximénez – the sweet, dark, sticky sherry that has a hint of liquorice, fig and treacle about it – there is no turning back.
Did you know? The first handwritten recipe dates back to the Middle Ages, where they were known as mince pies that contained partridge, pheasant, poultry and rabbit.
- 150 grams currants
- 150 grams sultanas
- 150 grams roughly chopped prunes
- 175 millilitres pedro ximenez sherry
- 100 grams plain flour
- 125 grams fresh breadcrumbs
- 150 grams suet
- 150 grams dark brown muscovado sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- grated zest of 1 lemon
- 3 large eggs
- 1 medium cooking apple (peeled and grated)
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 125 millilitres vodka (to flame the pudding)
You will need a 1.7 litre/3 pint/1½ quart heatproof plastic pudding basin with a lid, and also a sprig of holly to decorate.
- Put the currants, sultanas and scissored prunes into a bowl with the Pedro Ximénez, swill the bowl a bit, then cover with clingfilm and leave to steep overnight or for up to 1 week.
- When the fruits have had their steeping time, put a large pan of water on to boil, or heat some water in a conventional steamer, and butter your heatproof plastic pudding basin (or basins), remembering to grease the lid, too.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all the remaining pudding ingredients (except the vodka), either in the traditional manner or just any old how; your chosen method of stirring, and who does it, probably won’t affect the outcome of your wishes or your Christmas.
- Add the steeped fruits, scraping in every last drop of liquor with a rubber spatula, and mix to combine thoroughly, then fold in cola-cleaned coins or heirloom charms. If you are at all frightened about choking-induced fatalities at the table, do leave out the hardware.
- Scrape and press the mixture into the prepared pudding basin, squish it down and put on the lid. Then wrap with a layer of foil (probably not necessary, but I do it as I once had a lid-popping and water-entering experience when steaming a pudding) so that the basin is watertight, then either put the basin in the pan of boiling water (to come halfway up the basin) or in the top of a lidded steamer (this size of basin happens to fit perfectly in the top of my all-purpose pot) and steam for 5 hours, checking every now and again that the water hasn’t bubbled away.
- When it’s had its 5 hours, remove gingerly (you don’t want to burn yourself) and, when manageable, unwrap the foil, and put the pudding in its basin somewhere out of the way in the kitchen or, if you’re lucky enough, a larder, until Christmas Day.
- On the big day, rewrap the pudding (still in its basin) in foil and steam again, this time for 3 hours. Eight hours combined cooking time might seem a faff, but it’s not as if you need to do anything to it in that time.
- To serve, remove from the pan or steamer, take off the lid, put a plate on top, turn it upside down and give the plastic basin a little squeeze to help unmould the pudding. Then remove the basin – and voilà, the Massively Matriarchal Mono Mammary is revealed. (Did I forget to mention the Freudian lure of the pudding beyond its pagan and Christian heritage?)
- Put the sprig of holly on top of the dark, mutely gleaming pudding, then heat the vodka in a small pan (I use my diddy copper butter-melting pan) and the minute it’s hot, but before it boils – you don’t want the alcohol to burn off before you attempt to flambé it – turn off the heat, strike a match, stand back and light the pan of vodka, then pour the flaming vodka over the pudding and take it as fast as you safely can to your guests. If it feels less dangerous to you (I am a liability and you might well be wiser not to follow my devil-may-care instructions), pour the hot vodka over the pudding and then light the pudding. In either case, don’t worry if the holly catches alight; I have never known it to be anything but singed.
- Serve with the Eggnog Cream, which you can easily make – it’s the work of undemanding moments – while the pudding’s steaming
A classic Christmas pudding recipe with dark, rich fruit and a hidden surprise. Quinces add a delicious fragrance if you can get hold of them.
Did you know? In the 14th Century, the Christmas Pudding had the appearance of porridge. It was made of beef and mutton, with currants, raisins, prunes, spices and wine and was eaten before Christmas.
- 350g/12¼oz sultanas
- 350g/12¼oz raisins or currants
- 150g/5¼oz dried figs, chopped
- 125g/4½oz candied peel
- 100g/3½oz dried apricots
- 75g/2½oz dark glacé cherries, halved
- 150ml/5fl oz brandy
- 100g/3½oz ginger in syrup, chopped, plus 2 tbsp of the syrup
- 2 apples or quinces, grated
- 2 oranges, juice and zest
- 6 eggs, beaten
- 250g/8¾oz shredded suet
- 350g/12¼oz soft muscovado sugar
- 250g/8¾oz fresh breadcrumbs
- 175g/6¼oz self-raising flour
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 2 old sixpences or coins (optional)
For this recipe you will need two 1.5 litre(2½ pint) plastic pudding basins with lids.
- Soak the sultanas, raisins, currants, figs, peel, apricots and cherries in the brandy overnight, giving it a good stir now and again
- The following day, in a large bowl mix the ginger, syrup, apples or quinces, orange juice and zest with the eggs, suet, sugar, crumbs and flour
- Stir in the soaked fruit and spice
- Grease the two pudding basins and divide the mix between them. Add coins now if using
- Cut two circles of greaseproof paper to cover the top of the pudding and fold a pleat down the centre to allow pudding to expand
- Put lids on the basins and steam puddings for 3½ hours
- Let puddings cool before removing greaseproof paper and covering tightly with cling film and lid. The puddings can now be stored in a cool, dry place until Christmas
- To reheat, steam pudding for a further 3½ hours, turn out and flame with brandy
If you are making this as a dairy-free pudding, take care to ensure the breadcrumbs are dairy free. Although many breads contain dairy, free-from options are widely available – just check the label.
If you’ve never made a Christmas pudding, please don’t be put off by the eight hours’ steaming – it isn’t any work, it just sits happily on its own getting the long slow cooking which is what gives it such wonderful flavour and character.
Did you know? In 1714, King George 1st decided it should be eaten at Christmas and would feature no meat.
- 110g shredded suet
- 25g whole candied peel, finely chopped
- 25g whole almonds (skin on is OK)
- 1 small cooking apple cored and finely chopped (no need to peel)
- grated zest ½ large navel orange
- grated zest ½ large lemon
- 2 tablespoons rum
- 75ml barley wine
- 75ml stout
- 2 large eggs
- 50g self-raising flour, sifted
- 110g white breadcrumbs
- 1 level teaspoon ground mixed spice
- ¼ level teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- good pinch ground cinnamon
- 225g soft dark brown sugar
- 110g sultanas
- 110g raisins
- 275g currants
You will also need a 2 pint (1.2 litre) pudding basin, lightly greased, baking parchment, foil and string, and a traditional or fan-type steamer
Begin the day before you want to steam the pudding.
- Take your largest, roomiest mixing bowl and start by putting in the suet and breadcrumbs, spices and sugar. Mix these ingredients very thoroughly together, then gradually mix in all the dried fruit, peel and nuts followed by the apple and the grated orange and lemon zests. Don’t forget to tick everything off as you go to make sure nothing gets left out.
- Next in a smaller basin, measure out the rum, barley wine and stout, then add the eggs and beat these thoroughly together. Next pour this over all the other ingredients and begin to mix very thoroughly. It’s now traditional to gather all the family round, especially the children, and invite everyone to have a really good stir and make a wish!
- The mixture should have a fairly sloppy consistency – that is, it should fall instantly from the spoon when this is tapped on the side of the bowl. If you think it needs a bit more liquid add a spot more stout.
- Cover the bowl and leave overnight.
- Next day stir in the sifted flour quite thoroughly, then pack the mixture into the lightly greased basin, cover it with a double layer of baking parchment and a sheet of foil and tie it securely with string (you really need to borrow someone’s finger for this!). It’s also a good idea to tie a piece of string across the top to make a handle. Place the pudding in a steamer set over a saucepan filled with simmering water and steam the pudding for 8 hours.
- Do make sure you keep a regular eye on the water underneath and top it up with boiling water straight from the kettle about halfway through the time. When the pudding is steamed, let it get quite cold, then remove the baking parchment and foil and replace them with some fresh ones, again making a string handle for easy manoeuvring.
- Now your Christmas pudding is ready for Christmas Day. Keep it in a cool place away from the light. Under the bed in an unheated bedroom is an ideal place.
- On Christmas Day: Fill a saucepan quite full with boiling water, put it on the heat and, when it comes back to the boil, place a steamer on top of the pan and turn it down to a gentle simmer. Put the Christmas Pudding in the steamer cover and leave to steam for 2hrs 15 mins. You’ll need to check the water from time to time and maybe top it up a bit. When you are ready to serve the pudding, remove from the steamer and take off the wrapping. Slide a palette knife all around the pudding and turn it out on to a warmed plate. Place a suitably sized sprig of holly on top. Now warm a ladleful of brandy over direct heat and, as soon as the brandy is hot, turn out the flame and ask someone to set light to the brandy using a long match.
- Place the ladle, now gently flaming, on top of the pudding – but don’t pour it over until you reach the table (if you don’t have a gas hob, warm the brandy in a small saucepan). When you do, pour it slowly over the pudding, sides and all and watch it flame to the cheers of the assembled company! When both flames and cheers have died down, serve the pudding with Christmas Rum Sauce, Cumberland Rum Butter or Brown Sugar Brandy Butter – see below.
- If you have any left over, it will reheat beautifully, wrapped in foil, in the oven next day.
- If you want two smaller puddings, use two 570ml basins, but give them the same steaming time.
- If you want to make individual Christmas puddings for gifts, this quantity makes eight 175ml pudding basins. Steam for 3 hours, then re-steam for 1 hour before serving. They look pretty wrapped in baking parchment and muslin and tied with attractive bows and tags.
To make this recipe gluten-free: Replace the suet with either gluten-free or gluten-free vegetarian suet. Use gluten-free white flour and breadcrumbs made from gluten-free bread, and replace the stout and barley wine with the same amount of sherry. If you are using gluten-free flour, you will need to add a pinch of baking powder to the gluten-free white flour.
Christmas puddings are as much about texture as flavour – they should be unapologetically dense, without being solid. Pedro Ximénez sherry on its own is like liquid Christmas pudding!
Felicity Cloake cooks a selection of tried and trusted popular recipes in search of perfect results and writes “the prefect…” series of articles for the Guardian. Read her How to cook the perfect Christmas Pudding.
- 400g dried fruit of your choice (e.g. 150g currants, 150g sultanas, 100g dried figs, roughly chopped)
- 50g candied peel
- 175ml Pedro Ximénez sherry
- 150g soft light brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp mixed spice
- 75g self-raising flour
- Pinch of salt
- 75g fresh breadcrumbs, preferably brown
- Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon and 1 unwaxed orange
- 150g suet
- 50g blanched almonds, roughly chopped
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tbsp treacle
- 150ml stout
- 75ml milk
- Soak the dried fruit and peel in the sherry overnight.
- Whisk together the sugar, spice, flour, salt and breadcrumbs in a large mixing bowl then stir in the zest, suet and almonds.
- Beat together the egg and treacle then mix into the dry ingredients along with the stout and milk – stirring should traditionally be shared by everyone in the household, stirring from east to west, while making a wish.
- Stir in the fruit and any sherry in the bottom of the bowl, and then taste the mixture and add a little more mixed spice or sherry if you like, and any silver coins, rings or other charms you might like to break your family’s teeth on.
- Thoroughly grease a 1.4l/2½ pint pudding basin, including the lid, and spoon the mixture in – it should be no more than three-quarters full. Cut a round of greaseproof paper to fit the top, then cover with a lid, or two pieces of pleated foil. Wrap the whole lot in foil to ensure it is watertight. Steam in a steamer – or a saucepan with a saucer, or the lid of a jar, in the bottom – for 4 hours, checking the water level regularly.
- Store in a cool place until Christmas Day, feeding occasionally with alcohol if you like your puddings boozy.
- Steam for 1.5 hours then top with booze, light and serve with brandy butter, custard or (my favourite) ice-cream.