Christmas pudding is a traditional food and sometimes it’s nice to use a traditional recipe. I come from a very large family and for decades we used my Grandma’s hundred-year-old Christmas pudding recipe. However, eating it was tough going for some of us. It felt rich, thick, heavy and the children didn’t like it. Does this sound familiar to you? Do you sometimes cop out and eat ice cream instead?
Many years ago a lady gave my Mum a slightly different recipe for Christmas pudding. She didn’t even know my Mum very well, but was so passionate about this recipe that she was keen to share it. The list of ingredients looks completely traditional but something about it just works. This recipe works better than anything we have tried before. It tastes light and almost fluffy, which is deceptive because it’s actually very rich. The pudding is fruity but not chewy. It’s flavoursome and aromatic without smelling like pot pourri or tasting like treacle, like so many supermarket puddings. We have given this recipe to lots of people who have enjoyed it too.
Most importantly, it is EASY. You simply measure and mix the ingredients together, there’s no beating butter, no risk of curdling, no chance of it sinking in the middle. If you have gone to the trouble of making a Christmas cake, or mince pies then you will find this a doddle. The only difficulty is finding time to steam it; you need to be on hand so it doesn’t boil dry. A one pint pudding needs 5 hours steaming and a 2 pint pudding needs 8 hours steaming. If you’re a parent then you could get a neighbour to walk the children home from school just for one day perhaps, or find time at the weekend. I’m told you can use a slow cooker if you have one.
You can make this Christmas pudding as late as Christmas Eve but the taste does mature after a couple of weeks. You can make it up to a year in advance but store it in the fridge. Put the whole thing in it’s bowl inside an airless food storage bag. Christmas pudding can be frozen for a short period, perhaps one or two months, but not for too long because the fruit texture will deteriorate.
These quantities make two one-pint puddings or one two-pint pudding. Mix the ingredients one day then leave it overnight and steam it the next day.
- 150g fresh white breadcrumbs
- 150g plain flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp powdered mace
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 150g shredded suet
- 100g caster sugar
- 100g soft brown sugar
- 100g candied peel
- 150g currants
- 100g sultanas
- 250g raisins
- 75g chopped almonds
- 100g chopped cooking apples
- the juice and zest of half an orange
- the juice and zest of half a lemon
- 5 tsp brandy
- 1 large egg plus 1 extra egg yolk, whisked
- 60ml milk (approx.)
Day 1: Mix together all the dry ingredients then add all the wet ingredients except the milk. Stir really well. Add enough milk to make a soft dropping consistency and stir again. Get all your family members to stir it too and make a wish. Keep your wish secret until Christmas day! Smooth the mixture flat in the bowl, cover tightly with clingfilm and leave overnight.
Day 2: Stir the mixture again. Anyone who didn’t get to make a Christmas wish yesterday can have a go now. Grease your pudding basins and pack tightly with the mixture. I don’t recommend adding a lucky bean or a coin because it’s a choking hazard but even the Health and Safety Executive would disagree with me. I leave it up to you!
Cover the pudding with greased greaseproof paper. Cover this with the lid or if your bowl has no lid then tie on some silver foil with string. Place in your steamer with a long band of folded foil under it to help you lift it out. Steam each one-pint pudding for 5 hours. Steam a two-pint pudding for 8 hours. If you have a one-and-a-half pint pudding then steam it for 7 hours. It will expand a bit; it always pushes the lid off my steamer so put a layer of foil under the lid. When the time is up, take out and leave to cool. Store in a cool place.
On Christmas day: Steam a one pint pudding for 2 hours. Steam a 2 pint pudding for 3 hours. Turn out onto a hot dish for serving.
We love this Christmas pudding served with Mrs Hanrahan’s sauce.
Tips on Ingredients
Currants – buy the best quality seedless currants, not shops own brand. It’s better to replace the currants with raisins and sultanas than to use cheap currants.
Sultanas and raisins – take the time to pick them over and remove any stalks. They’re not very nice to bite into.
Almonds – I like to grind flaked almonds in a herb mill for a better texture. You can use packet chopped almonds but I find they stick in my teeth. I avoid finely ground almonds because it acts like flour and changes the recipe consistency.
Breadcrumbs – cut the crusts off a day-old white loaf, break into chunks and whizz in a blender. With the leftover breadcrumbs, weigh out 100g bagfuls and freeze. They will last all year, they defrost in a matter of minutes and are useful for bread sauce, queen of puddings, chicken Kiev and other crispy toppings.
Apples – weigh them out after peeling and coring, not before.
Candied peel – if you can get this without added sulphites then you will notice a better flavour. Try looking for it in health food stores.
“Free From” adaptations – you could use vegetarian suet. You could also use any dairy-free alternative to milk and grease your pudding basin with a dairy-free spread. If you want to leave out the almonds because of a nut allergy you can do so but perhaps add a dash of vanilla and a touch more ginger.
This recipe contains no treacle, no golden syrup, no stout and no butter, which you may find in other recipes. I prefer to avoid all of these in order to get a good flavour and texture. In particular the use of stout is a hangover from pre-war days and it gives a slightly bitter aftertaste. My Grandma was prescribed a daily drink of stout by the doctor when she was run down. How times change!
Take a look at my Living – Eating Pinterest board for some of my favourite recipe ideas