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Traditional Christmas Pudding

Updated on October 27, 2014
A traditional Christmas pudding - the holly isn't edible, it's just for decoration!
A traditional Christmas pudding - the holly isn't edible, it's just for decoration! | Source

Christmas Pudding from Britain

The British Christmas Pudding is a very rich traditional dessert, served as part of Christmas Day dinner.

Of course, many people just can't manage to eat it then, so often it's served later in the day and for several days following because, unless you have a large family gathering, it is too big for one meal. Because it is so rich, most people only eat small portions.

The pudding is made as much as three months before Christmas because, stored correctly, the flavour matures. In fact, some people even use them when they are one or two years old.

English to US Translation

Currant = small seedless raisin

Raisin = a brown raisin (dried grape)

Sultana = white raisin

Mixing Christmas pudding ingredients
Mixing Christmas pudding ingredients | Source

Ingredients for a Traditional Christmas Pudding

  • 12oz breadcrumbs, fresh
  • 12oz flour, plain (all purpose)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 level teasp ground ginger
  • 1/2 level teasp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 level tsp ground cinnamon
  • 12oz sultanas
  • 16oz currants
  • 12oz raisins
  • 8oz candied peel, chopped mixed
  • 6oz almonds, chopped
  • 8oz apples, peeled & chopped
  • 12oz suet, shredded suet (you can now buy vegetarian suet)
  • 8oz castor sugar, (fine grained)
  • 8oz soft brown sugar
  • 1 lemon - rind & juice, grated rind
  • 1 orange - rind & juice, grated rind
  • 1/2 teasp vanilla essence
  • 1/2 teasp almond essence
  • 3 eggs, large beaten
  • 4 tablesp brandy or rum, (optional, use extra fruit juice if preferred)
  • 150ml (2/3 cup) milk

Don't Make It, Buy It!

Matthew Walker Christmas Pudding
Matthew Walker Christmas Pudding

I have to admit making your own traditional Christmas pudding is a big job. Not only do you have to get a lot of ingredients, it's time-consuming too. The answer is to buy a good quality pudding instead.

 

Recipe for a Traditional Christmas Pudding

Method

1. This quantity of ingredients makes at 3 puddings. You need traditional pudding basins to cook these. The measurements of the basins required are:

600ml (1 pint) basin, 900ml (1-1/2pt) basin and 1.1litre (2 pint) basin

2. Mix all the dry ingredients plus the apples, orange and lemon rind and juice, brandy, eggs and milk together in a very large mixing bowl. Cover and leave overnight.

3. Grease the pudding basins. Prepare three large pans by half filling with water and then bringing them to the boil or use steamers.

4. Stir the mixture again and then put into prepared basins. Cover with a circle of greaseproof paper then foil which should overlap the basin so it can be tied on with string around the lip of the basin. Put each basin into one of the saucepans. The water should simmer throughout the cooking and the water should be topped up as required. The 2 pint pudding will take 9 hours to cook, the 1-1/2 pint one will take 7 hours and the smallest, the 1 pint, will take 5 hours.

5. Remove from the pans and take off the foil but leave the greaseproof paper in place. When they are cold, cover again with foil and store in a cool place.

6. On Christmas Day, steam the puddings as above for between 2 and 3 hours depending on size.

7. It is tradition to bring a whole pudding to the dining table, pour spirits over it like brandy or rum, then set the spirit alight - see the Setting Fire to the Christmas Pudding below.

8. Serve with brandy butter or traditional white sauce. After Christmas Day, you can heat small quantities, rather than a whole pudding, in a microwave.

Top Tip

Use an electric steamer or crockpot (slow cooker) on Christmas Day to reheat your pudding as your hob will probably be full of other pans.

Storing Your Christmas Puddings

Traditional Christmas Puddings should keep for months and are usually made at least a month or two before Christmas. Wrap them separately in greaseproof paper and store in an airtight tin or plastic box in a cool, dry place.

If you make extra puddings, they are usually given to friends or relatives as gifts because many people don't have the time or knowledge to make Christmas puddings themselves. Home made puddings are almost always received with pleasure.

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How to Make a Christmas Pudding

Get Your Own Pudding Basin - It's what we use in Britain

This is the kind of basin we use for Christmas pudding and other steamed desserts and savoury puddings we make here in the UK. If you've never tried them, you don't know what you're missing.

Mason Cash 7-1/2-Inch by 4-1/4-Inch Pudding Basin, 1-1/2-Quart Capacity, Size 24, White
Mason Cash 7-1/2-Inch by 4-1/4-Inch Pudding Basin, 1-1/2-Quart Capacity, Size 24, White

You stand this basin in a steamer or a pan of simmering water to cook your pudding. Almost every home in Britain has at least one, usually more in different sizes.

 

A Traditional Wish with the Christmas Pudding

It is traditional for everybody in the family to stir the pudding when it's being made. As they each take a turn to stir, they make a wish. Of course, they mustn't do it out loud or tell anyone what they wished for otherwise it won't come true.

Setting Fire to the Christmas Pudding

White Sauce

Ingredients

  • 3/4oz butter
  • 2 tbs plain (all purpose) flour
  • 300ml (1/2pt or 1-2/3 cups) milk
  • 1-1/2 level tbs sugar
  • 1 level tsp mixed spice or nutmeg
  • 1 or 2 tbs brandy or rum

Method

Melt the butter in a pan and gradually add the flour, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. It will form a thin paste (roux) which should be smooth and free of lumps. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes, still stirring all the time, until it bubbles. Now gradually add the milk. Remove the pan from the heat as you add it then put back on the heat, stir vigorously until it boils then add more milk, each time removing from the heat. When the sauce is at the required thickness, add the spice or nutmeg and brandy or rum, stir again.

If you make the sauce before you want to serve it, cover the surface with greaseproof paper to stop a skin forming on top.

Brandy Butter to eat with the Christmas pudding
Brandy Butter to eat with the Christmas pudding | Source

Brandy Butter

Ingredients

  • 3oz butter
  • 3oz castor (fine grained) sugar
  • 2-3 tbs brandy

Method

Cream the butter until its soft and pale then gradually beat in the sugar. Now add the brandy very carefully. It should only be beaten in very small amounts so that the mixture doesn't curdle. When that's done, the mixture is soft, pale and frothy. Leave it to harden then serve with Christmas pudding.


Till Death Us Do Part - The Garnetts on Christmas Day 1966

This was the most popular comedy show in the UK in the 1960s. In this episode Alf Garnett swallows the threepenny bit in the Christmas Pudding. The Christmas decorations and other details of the set are typical of a working class British household of the period.

Cold Chocolate Christmas Pudding

This makes a good alternative if you don't like traditional Christmas Pudding. It looks similar but is much lighter. Serves 6 - you need to make this at least one day before you serve it and finish it off just before serving. It would be far better, though, to make it well in advance.

Ingredients

  • 350ml/11 fl oz milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 stick on cinnamon
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 95g/3-1/4oz soft brown sugar
  • 200ml/6-1/2 fl oz chilled cream
  • 2 tbsp brandy (optional)
  • 105g/3-1/2oz fruit cake, broken into 1 or 2 inch chunks
  • 45g/1-1/2oz chopped marron glacé
  • 45g/1-1/2oz chopped glacé cherries
  • 45g/1-1/2oz amaretti biscuits (cookies), broken into large pieces

Topping

  • 185g/6oz good quality plain (semi-sweet) chocolate
  • 30ml/1 fl oz oil (not olive oil)
  • 50g/1-3/4oz white chocolate


Christmas Desserts Around the World

Christmas Dessert Recipes from Around the World: Sweets to make your holiday merry and bright
Christmas Dessert Recipes from Around the World: Sweets to make your holiday merry and bright

If you want to experiment with new desserts this Christmas, here is the cookbook for you. There are recipes from countries as diverse as France, China, South Africa, even Antarctica plus several more.

 

Method

1. Put the milk, vanilla essence and cinnamon stick into a saucepan and bring slowly to the boil, then remove from heat.

2. In a bowl, cream the egg yolks and sugar together until thick, then, after removing the cinnamon stick, add the hot milk and mix until all ingredients are well combined.

3. Put the mixture into a fresh saucepan and very slowly, over a low heat, stir it continuously until it thickens enough to coat a spoon. Do not allow it to boil.

4. Using a sieve (strainer), strain it into a clean bowl and put aside to cool completely.

5. When it is completely cold, add the cream and brandy. Stir them in then put them in a container and freeze until just firm to the touch, about 3 hours.

6. Take the mixture out of the freezer, put into a bowl and beat until the it is thick and creamy.

7. Repeat the freezing and beating twice more but on the final one, add the marron glacé, fruitcake, glacé cherries and amaretti biscuits (cookies) and put in a 2 pint or 1 litre pudding basin to produce the traditional Christmas pudding shape. Cover with clingfilm (Saran wrap) and return to freezer. Check after 30 minutes and stir if the cake, biscuits and fruit have sunk to the bottom. Cover again, and freeze overnight.

Topping - Do at least 2 hours before serving

8. Remove from freezer and then turn it out onto a wire rack. Flash the basin in and out of very hot water to loosen the ice cream, if necessary.

9. To make the topping, melt the plain (semi-sweet) chocolate. When it is melted, add the oil, stirring it in well and until chocolate is cool but still liquid.

10. Now pour the chocolate smoothly and evenly over the pudding so, except for the bottom, it is completely covered. Put it back in the freezer for about 2 hours.

11. Melt the white chocolate. Take the pudding out of the freezer and put on a serving plate. Pour the white chocolate over the top of the pudding. This time it should not be completely covered. The white chocolate is supposed to resemble cream poured over a pudding. Decorate with a sprig of artificial holly.

12. It would be much better to make it in advance, wrap it well in cling film (saran wrap) and keep it in the freezer. Take it out about 30 minutes before serving.

Silver Sixpence for Christmas Pudding
Silver Sixpence for Christmas Pudding | Source

Christmas Pudding Traditions

There are several traditions associated with the British Christmas Pudding. One is 'Stir-up Sunday', the last Sunday before Advent, when every member of the family took a turn to stir the pudding and made a silent wish. It got its name from the Collect (prayer) for that Sunday which says:

"Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen"

Another tradition is that an old silver sixpence (see picture above) or threepenny bit was stirred in the pudding and whoever got it on Christmas Day would come into money. Nowadays, it's more likely to be a 5, 10 or 50 pence piece. In these more hygienic times, people often wrap it in foil before putting it into the pudding mixture.

Although you can serve Christmas Pudding with custard, cream or ice cream, it is customary to serve it with a white sauce or brandy butter.

If your family don't like the traditional pudding, below there is a recipe for an alternative, Cold Chocolate Christmas Pudding, made with fruitcakes, spice and cookies and homemade ice cream. It looks a lot like a traditional pudding and the spicy fruity flavours give a similar taste. The advantage is that it's much lighter especially after a big Christmas Dinner.

© 2008 Carol Fisher

What do you have for your Christmas dessert?

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    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 4 years ago

      I know it's spring now, but I wanted to try making a real Christmas pudding. Your description is very clear and easy to follow.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      This looks delicious, I have to try it! We are having a Coconut Cake this year.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 4 years ago

      You have really put together a clever lens for us. HOHOHO! I really enjoyed the videos you choose for us - the first one was like a home video - "use the regular camera - no the new digital one!" really cute. And the Garnetts remind me of the American comedy All in the Family. The recipes sound delicious - blessed, tweeted, pinned onto my Christmas board and out by digg. :)

    • ksktika profile image

      ksktika 4 years ago

      ohhhhhhh !! i loved chocolate pudding, so yummmmyyyyy ..

    • Riesling profile image

      Riesling 4 years ago

      Yummy, I love Chrsitmas pudding, but I'm far too lazy to do it myself :-)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      The salt and pepper shakers are so cute, plus they look beautiful on the table at Christmas and Boxing Day.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Wonderful lens.

    • profile image

      brynimagire 5 years ago

      Wonderful lens ! Nice info.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I really enjoyed the television clip. Nice touch. Never had Christmas pudding before. Might have to give it a try.

    • Joycevoice profile image

      Joycevoice 5 years ago

      The traditional Christmas pudding looks delicious. I will have to give it a try before Christmas.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      looks like a delicious dish, I'd eat this out of season, like right now!

    • twisted-barfly profile image

      twisted-barfly 5 years ago

      This is a fantastic lens - The tip about heating up the pudding using a steamer or crockpot - bloomin brilliant. I would never have thought of that. I bet steaming it would keep it lovely and moist too?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thank you for this lens. I am an American who hopes to one day visit Great Britain during the Christmas holidays so I can have a proper British Christmas pudding! Merry Christmas!

    • LouiseKirkpatrick profile image

      LouiseKirkpatrick 5 years ago from Berkshire, United Kingdom

      You can't beat a British Christmas! Blessed by this Squid Angel on a quest for Christmas Pudding!

    • Cal-gal profile image

      Meredith Davies 5 years ago

      I have never made it but I always bought two. One for Christmas and one for June 25 (Christmas #2).

      I love it and look forward to trying your recipes. Thank you

    • profile image

      mumsgather 5 years ago

      Blessed and entered into The SquidAngel Holiday Word Lens List.

    • profile image

      Buchamar 5 years ago

      Yummy Lens!

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      I always wondered about Christmas pudding -- it gets mention in Dickens novels. Now I know. Great lens --just curious-- if your call seedless raisins "currants" then what do you call currants?

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 5 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      I love Christmas Pudding and this year we will be having a cold pudding from your recipe

    • Deadicated LM profile image

      Deadicated LM 5 years ago

      Bring me some figgy pudding! Us Yankees just don't know pudding.

    • sudokunut profile image

      Mark Falco 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      I love Christmas pudding, although it's a lot harder to find here in the USA. Last year I had mum ship a bunch out to me. Delicious! Christmas isn't christmas without it.

    • PhilRC profile image

      PhilRC 5 years ago

      Hi, I came over here from your Art Deco lnes, but as an expat who hasn´t had a traditional Christmas pudding I just couldn´t resist the thought of getting hold of a recipe. (Spur of the moment visit).

    • Natalie W Schorr profile image

      Natalie W Schorr 5 years ago

      Very well done!!!

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 5 years ago

      Nicely done. But I had to laugh - only the British could keep something for two years before eating it!!!!

    • Grasmere Sue profile image

      Sue Dixon 5 years ago from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK

      Delicious. Added to my Cumberland rum butter lens and Blessed as well.

    • OldStones LM profile image

      OldStones LM 5 years ago

      I have often heard of Christmas puddings, and now I know a little bit more. Thank You for this tasty article.

    • NTxWriter profile image

      NTxWriter 5 years ago

      This pudding looks delicious! My husband is a big fan of this type of holiday treats so I'm going to save your recipe and try it this year. Thanks for sharing!

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 5 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Just dropped by again to refresh my memory - it's time to think of the Christmas menu. And what could be better than a traditional Christmas pudding?

    • Stazjia profile image
      Author

      Carol Fisher 6 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      @HelanaRirosknee: Although the long list of ingredients is daunting and they do take a long time to cook, the actual preparation isn't difficult or the time actually spent doint it particulaly long. To get a high quality pudding, the only alternative is to buy one, probably from a specialist or, alternatively, to make one of the lighter versions.

    • profile image

      HelanaRirosknee 6 years ago

      I haven't had this in I don't know how long. but it is sooooooo good. Is there a way to modify the preparation so that is not so labor intensive ? Great lens.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Last year, we had two Christmas pudding as the kids brought some. This year, we had none. Instead, we had the fruit cake which we enjoyed, too.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Last year, we had two Christmas pudding as the kids brought some. This year, we had none. Instead, we had the fruit cake which we enjoyed, too.

    • Grasmere Sue profile image

      Sue Dixon 6 years ago from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK

      I've not made mine yet this year- usually I make it in October. I'm going to try a last minute recipe and see what happens! Lovely lens.

    • KokoTravel profile image

      KokoTravel 6 years ago

      We do have Plum Pudding, fruit cake and mince meat pie... along with pumpkin pie for those with discriminating taste that doesn't allow for the old traditions.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Awesome lens! Delicious recipe. Blessed by a Squidoo Angel on 12/10/2010! Have a great day!

    • BLouw profile image

      Barbara Walton 6 years ago from France

      This is a great lens. I especially loved the video as I was brought up on Alf Garnett. Such a brilliant show. I'm sorely tempted to steal it for my Christmas Pudding article! (Not too sure about the cold choc pud though - I'm a Christmas Pudding purist.)

    • profile image

      kt_glasses 6 years ago

      great lens! I love this recipe too.

    • MsSnow4 profile image

      Carol Goss 6 years ago

      Looking good would love to try it

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Even though I'll be spending Christmas in a very hot climate we'll still be having a traditional English pudding for dessert. Your recipe sound rich and delicious.

    • spritequeen lm profile image

      spritequeen lm 6 years ago

      This looks GREAT! Can't wait to try it!! Thanks for sharing :-)...We're boring - we just usually eat cookies LOL

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 6 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      My mom cook a Christmas pudding ONCE, I liked it a lot.....but was the only one. So it was the end of the Christmas pudding. She had a traditional recipe, maybe not exactly like yours. We usually have a variety of dessert: chocolat cake with cream and warm cherry cooked in wine, peppermint chocolate tarts, some traditional French Canadian bits (sucre a la creme, pudding chomeur). Since I live in France it mostly all the time the chestnut cream cake.

    • ICanCook profile image

      ICanCook 6 years ago

      I make a rum cake that similar to your pudding. I am amazed by each successive lens of yours that I read. They are interesting and I really wish I had done it. Is this lens envy?

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 6 years ago from UK

      Ah you have done the Xmas Pud proud!

    • howtocurecancer profile image

      howtocurecancer 6 years ago

      A rich brownie with sour cream and vanilla. It is delicious.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      The sticky note looks so nice in there...gives me an idea for my next lens :)

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 7 years ago

      Re-blessing... Merry Christmas!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 7 years ago from United States

      What a wonderful tradition! I love the idea of the whole family being together and stirring it. That would be my wish come true before I took my turn:)

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 7 years ago

      It sounds really good, but I have to admit I've never had it. Time to try something new...

      Great lens.

      And thank you for the blessing on My Mother's Shoes. I really appreciate it.

      Lizzy

    • raswook profile image

      Jeff Wendland 7 years ago from Kalamazoo, MI

      I've honestly never had Christmas pudding. I'd love to try it. 5* and blessings

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 8 years ago

      Interesting, the setting fire to the Christmas pudding. Sort of like what we would do with cherries jubilee or bananas foster. Enjoyed reading your lens!

    • Sniff It Out profile image

      Sniff It Out 8 years ago

      I haven't had Christmas pudding since I was at school! These look good.

      Welcome to The Cooks Cafe group

    • thepartyanimal2 profile image

      thepartyanimal2 8 years ago

      Yahoo you are a winner in The Squidoo Home for The Holidays Lens Contest So Go Grab your badge.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 8 years ago

      My favorites keep disappearing! I re-favorited this yummy lens and am also featuring it at Culinary Favorites From A to Z.

    • profile image

      Mayflowerblood 8 years ago

      looks good!

    • kathypi lm profile image

      kathypi lm 8 years ago

      lots of good info, i have never made christmas pudding, i'll give it a try, thanks kathy

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 8 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      Very nice. Welcome to the Comfort Food Group.

    • profile image

      tdove 8 years ago

      Thanks for joining G Rated Lense Factory!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 8 years ago

      This would be fun to make during the holidays. Thank you for sharing your recipe with Culinary Favorites From A to Z.

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Thanks for Alf and his threepence. I well remember the sixpences in the pud

    • Stazjia profile image
      Author

      Carol Fisher 8 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      Whoops! I thought I'd got rid of all those 'new' bits in the titles. Thanks for pointing it out.

    • triathlontraini1 profile image

      triathlontraini1 8 years ago

      Nicely done! Don't forget to change the default names of the lenses (at least remove the 'New' part). :)

      Thanks for the Squidcast!

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