The ultimate Christmas pudding recipe

Date:30-11-2013 08:58:45 read:2

The ultimate Christmas pudding recipe

Stir-up Sunday may be over, but there's still time to make a delicious Christmas pudding in time for this year's festivities

Christmas tradition: Rose Prince's pudding Photo: Laura Hynd

The ever-evolving ‘figgy’ pudding, which was historically a means to preserve meat but latterly has been made with the most sumptuous, succulent fruits, remains a solid presence at Christmas. Not everyone loves it, and plenty of alternatives may sit with it on the table, but were it not there I’d feel it like the empty chair of an absent beloved relation. Cooks like to tinker with the recipe; I for one am glad it is no longer made with meat, although I insist on using beef suet for flavour as long as the company is happy to have it, too. And the simplicity of good-quality preserved fruit, brown sugar and brandy is quite enough.

Christmas pudding recipe

Makes a 1kg pudding, serves 8-12. You will need a 1.2-litre ceramic pudding basin and a very large bowl for mixing.

120g large raisins

120g chopped dates

120g chopped prunes

85g chopped Smyrna figs

85g whole almonds

the grated zest of 1 lemon

the grated zest and juice of

1 orange

100ml medium-sweet sherry

30ml brandy

100g grated squash or pumpkin

100g grated apple

1 rounded tbsp molasses

120g dark muscovado sugar

120g wholemeal spelt flour

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp ground nutmeg

120g ground almonds

120g grated suet

2 eggs, beaten

Brandy, for feeding

Put all the dried fruit, the whole almonds, citrus zest and juice, sherry and brandy into a very large bowl and mix well. Leave for about an hour for the fruit to soften and flavours to merge. Add the grated squash and apple with the molasses and sugar, and mix again thoroughly. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until you are sure all is really well combined – it is at this stage that you may want to call in some extra muscle to make light work of the mixing.

Butter the pudding basin and turn the mixture into it. Pat it down then give the basin a firm tap on the worktop to settle the pudding into it. Cut a piece of greaseproof paper to the exact size of the pudding’s surface and butter one side. Place, buttered side down, on to the pudding. Cover the basin with a pleated sheet of baking parchment, and secure with string.

Twice a week in the run-up to Christmas (for a maximum of five weeks) remove the covering and ‘feed’ the pudding with a tablespoon of brandy, covering it again. There is no need to store it in the fridge.

To cook and dress the pudding on Christmas Day

You will need some string and a lidded pan large enough to accommodate the pudding.

2-3 tbsp brandy

A sprig of holly


Tie a long piece of string around the pudding basin and make a handle across the top; this makes it easy to lift the pudding into and out of the pan. Put 3-5cm of water in a large pan, and lower the pudding into it. Bring the water to the boil, turn down to a simmer and cover with the lid. Steam for at least three hours, adding more water if necessary. The pudding will puff up slightly and become fragrant and soft.

Just before serving, turn out the pudding on to a warmed shallow dish. Heat the brandy in a small pan but do not boil. Take the pudding to the table and stick the holly in the top. Spoon the brandy over the pudding (not the holly) and light with a long match. The liquor will burst merrily into flames.

    Ever For Health Copy Rights 2013