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Christmas Pudding

Updated on December 14, 2011

Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year. The days are shorter and the weather colder and inviting to stay at home, a time of conviviality and intimacy. Lovely smells of wood burning on the fireplace and sweet spices coming from every kitchen. Christmas is the perfect time to start baking cookies and cakes, time to spend kneading dough in the kitchen and see how it sensuously rises under white linen by the heat of the oven.

Thankfully, Christmas does not need to wait until December. November is when the Christmas spirit starts to take hold of the season, and I am not talking about shops being decorated for Christmas as soon as Halloween is over. I mean, November is when the Christmas baking starts. If you want to enjoy a homemade Christmas pudding, you will need to start your preparations in November. Whether a Christmas pudding, a Christmas cake, cookies for our friends, gingerbreads for the children... the baking needs to start well ahead of Christmas day.

Christmas pudding
Christmas pudding

What is a Christmas pudding?

A Christmas pudding is a traditional desert served on Christmas day in Britain. Basically, it is a steamed pudding, with lots of dried fruit, nuts and suet. Made with black sugar and black treacle it has a dark appearance. It is served warm, usually moistened with brandy or any other liqueur and flambé.

Christmas puddings originated in the early 1400s but it only became popular as we know it today during Victorian England.

My first Christmas pudding

When I got married in Scotland only a few months after arriving there, my English teacher gave me a cookery book as a present to get me familiar with Scottish cookery. The book, by Claire Macdonald turned out to be more than just a collection of recipes but a guide to seasonal cooking in Scotland. And what better way to know a culture than by its food? Despite all these years and moving around different countries, I still carry around with me my book of Seasonal Cooking. It reminds me of cold and dark Scottish days, of whisky flavours, the smell of smoked fish and the taste of gorgeous hot puddings. This recipe of the Christmas pudding has always stuck in my mind as Lady MacDonald tells us that she uses her baby's bath to mix the ingredients rather than any other kitchen dish!

Christmas pudding drying out on hook in order to enhance the flavour. This pudding has been prepared with a traditional cloth rather than a basin.
Christmas pudding drying out on hook in order to enhance the flavour. This pudding has been prepared with a traditional cloth rather than a basin.

Christmas pudding recipe.

This recipe belongs to Claire Macdonald of Macdonald, winner of the Glenfiddich Award for Cookery writer in 1982.

For one large pudding you will need:

  • 350 gr. shredded suet 350gr. sultanas

  • 350gr. raisins (stoned and halved)

  • 175gr. currants

  • 175gr. chopped candied peel

  • 75gr. flaked almonds

  • Grated rind of 1 lemon

  • ½ teaspoon of salt

  • ½ teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg

  • 6 eggs

  • 1 wineglass of brandy

  • 200ml. of milk


Use a large container to mix together all the ingredients, stirring well. Traditionally everyone in the household, or at least every child, gives the mixture a stir, and makes a wish while doing so.

Put the mixture into a 1 ½ litre basin, or if you prefer, into two smaller cooking basins and cover with a circle of greaseproof paper. You can also use clip on lid basins if you have them. Otherwise use a cloth and knot the corners on top so they do not trail in the water. Put the basin in a saucepan and half fill with boiling water. Steam the pudding for 5 to 6 hours. Take care not to let the water boil dry. I have forgotten mine in the past and it is not very pleasant to clean raisins from your kitchen ceiling!

When ready, keep your pudding in a cool place, ideally a larder. Christmas puddings are often dried out on hooks for weeks prior to serving in order to enhance the flavour.

To reheat your pudding on Christmas day, steam again for 1 ½ hours. Serve warm, only very small portions as the pudding is very heavy. Serve with a brandy sauce, cream or custard. If you are looking for a stunning effect, and there are no children around, you can douse your pudding in brandy and flambé it.

Classic Christmas Pudding


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    • Santiago Sabadell profile image

      Santiago Sabadell 

      6 years ago from Sabadell

      very helpful

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      10 years ago from France

      guidebaba: yummy indeed! I love it with some brandy sauce. My second favourite Christmas cake is the Italian Panettone. Christmas is not Christmas for me without breafkast with a hot thick chocolate and Panettone.

    • guidebaba profile image


      10 years ago from India

      Pudding: Yummy.

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      10 years ago from France

      countrywomen: In Britain you can always find vegetarian suet. In America however... I am not sure, but you might be able to replace the suet with shortening (any fat or oil that is used to make a short crust or dough, one that turns out tender, crumbly, and rich. However, DO NOT use butter as it will create a heavy and greasy pudding.

      Good luck and merry Christmas!

    • countrywomen profile image


      10 years ago from Washington, USA

      Great recipe. Good time for me to start practising this recipe for the Christmas potlock office party we are planning next month. Will have to check out for suet from fat such as palm oil in my grocery store?

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      10 years ago from France

      Dottie1 : Thanks Dottie, wow... I didn't notice it was the 100th... thanks for the reminder, something to celebrate !!! :)

    • Dottie1 profile image


      10 years ago from MA, USA

      Thank you Princessa for the added info. Also a big round of applause to you for your 100th hub, Yey.

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      10 years ago from France

      Dottie1: Suet is raw beef fat; you can find packaged suet sold in supermarkets. It is used for making pastry. There is also a vegetarian suet substitute available in supermarkets in the United Kingdom that is made from fat such as palm oil. Black Treacle is a dark viscous syrup with a molasses flavour.

      jbcat: LOL don't we all gain weigth at christmas time? Who can resist all those lovely puddings... yummy!

      SweetiePie: It is actually a very easy and quick pudding to make once you have all the ingredients. The difficult part for me is to steam it without letting it boil dry...

    • SweetiePie profile image


      10 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Sounds like a good recipe. Of course the traditional Christmas pudding also sounds like quite a bit of work, but worth it.

    • jbcat profile image


      10 years ago from Santa Fe

      I have already gained 5 pounds just from reading this hub. Just cannot wait till Christmas when all the cooked Goodies are eaten. My favorite holiday desert is Bread Pudding with Chees and raisins. Just like grandma use to make.

    • Dottie1 profile image


      10 years ago from MA, USA

      Hi Princessa....your christmas pudding looks so beautiful. I love any kinds of pudding. Looking at the recipe for this pudding I am wondering just what suet is. Suet is what we feed the birds with around here. I'll have to check that out. Also don't know what black sugar is or black treacle. But this pudding certainly looks pleasing to my eyes and would look so pretty on the holiday table. Thank you for sharing.


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