Festive Christmas Pudding
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    Serves 4–6
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Making my own Christmas pudding – mixing, steaming, maturing and feeding it – is a wonderful way to capture the spirit and anticipation of Christmas. I love a good Christmas pudding and making my own has enabled me to perfect my recipe. I thought long and hard about everything that was great about puddings I’ve eaten in the past and everything I’ve not liked about them, and I have to say I think my recipe is now perfect (and a lot of our customers agree)!

I use a local ale, which provides a little bitterness, and I use Pump Street Bakery’s sourdough bread to make the breadcrumbs. Most importantly, I leave my raw mixture to rest for two days before steaming the pudding. This helps all the flavours to combine and blend and allows the breadcrumbs to soak up as much liquid as possible. The mixed fresh apple and pear starts breaking down and the fruitiness blends into the mixture.

I also like to make my pudding a minimum of six weeks before Christmas so that I can gradually feed it with brandy, allowing the cooked pudding time to mellow and mature. However, if you suddenly find yourself with only a month to go and realise that you haven’t made your Christmas pudding yet, then it’s still perfectly OK to make this pudding then and feed it with brandy for four weeks rather than six – it will still taste wonderful on Christmas Day! Merry Christmas!

Ingredients & Method

For the christmas pudding

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 75ml dark ale (I like to use our local ale, Adnams bitter, which has a strong flavour, but you might like to choose one locally produced in your region)
  • finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 60g fresh coarse sourdough breadcrumbs
  • 50g shredded vegetable or beef suet
  • 2 tablespoons strong white bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 115g soft dark brown sugar
  • 50g sultanas
  • 50g raisins
  • 50g dried cranberries
  • 100g currants
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mixed peel
  • 50g flaked almonds
  • 100g (prepared weight) mixed cored apple and pear (leave skin on), coarsely grated
  • brandy, to feed the pudding

For the brandy butter

  • 125g softened unsalted butter
  • 125g sifted icing sugar
  • the seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla pod
  • 1 tablespoon brandy

You will need to prepare the pudding mixture, then leave it to steep for 2 days before cooking it. Place the egg, rum, ale and orange juice in a small bowl and use a fork to mix well.

Place all the remaining ingredients, except the brandy, in a large mixing bowl, then stir in the ale mixture and mix thoroughly. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 2 days. After 2 days of resting the mixture, finish making the pudding. Grease a 1 litre pudding basin. Stir the pudding mixture well, then transfer it to the prepared pudding basin and level the surface, leaving a 4cm gap between the top of the mixture and the rim of the bowl. Cut a circle of non-stick baking paper and place it on top of the pudding mixture, cover the basin tightly with foil, then tie with kitchen string to keep the foil in place and keep the pudding watertight. Make a handle with the string to enable you to lift the pudding out of the steamer more easily. Place the pudding in a steamer set over a pan of simmering water, cover the pan with a lid and steam the pudding for 4 hours (see Cook’s Notes). Make sure you keep an eye on the water level in the pan and top it up with boiling water from the kettle if it starts getting too low.

Remove from the heat, then carefully remove the pudding from the steamer and leave it to cool completely. Once the pudding is cold, unwrap the foil and remove the baking paper, then make small holes in the top of the pudding using a metal skewer and spoon over 4 tablespoons brandy. Cover the pudding with a fresh circle of non-stick baking paper and wrap the basin tightly in fresh foil. Store the pudding in a cool, dry cupboard for at least 6 weeks before using, feeding the pudding with 1–2 tablespoons brandy once a week and resealing with fresh baking paper and foil each time.

In the meantime make the brandy butter. Put the butter, icing sugar and vanilla seeds into a bowl and cream together until pale and fluffy. Stir in brandy until combined, then taste and add a little extra brandy, if needed.


To reheat your pudding on the day you want to serve it, cover the top of the pudding with a fresh circle of non-stick baking paper, wrap it in fresh foil and tie with kitchen string. Make a handle out of the string, then steam the pudding as above for at least 2 hours, to ensure it’s hot all the way through.

To serve, remove the pudding from the steamer and carefully unwrap it, then turn the pudding out on to a serving plate. Heat 2 tablespoons brandy very gently in a small saucepan, then pour the warm brandy over the pudding and set it alight. Carefully carry the pudding to your guests in a darkened room for maximum ‘wows’ and pleasure. Serve immediately with a choice of Brandy Butter, Brandy Cream and fresh custard.

Cook’s Notes

You can also cook the pudding in a large saucepan. Place an inverted saucer into the bottom of the pan, sit the pudding basin on the saucer, then pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the basin. Cover the pan and cook as above, topping up the hot water, as necessary.

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