Recipes for christmas pudding

Christmas pudding

Method

  1. Combine the mixed fruit, prunes, muscovado sugar, rum and stout in a mixing bowl. Stir well to mix, cover and leave for 24 hours to soak.

  2. After 24 hours, mix the walnuts, almonds, ground almonds, breadcrumbs, flour, butter, spices, cherries and eggs along with the soaked fruit mixture in a large mixing bowl, making sure you include all the soaking liquor from the soaked fruit. Mix well until completely combined (let all the members of the family have a stir and make a wish).

  3. Cover with cling film and leave to stand in a cool place for 24 hours.

  4. After 24 hours, grease a 1.2 litre/2 pint pudding basin with butter. Cut a circle of baking paper and place into the bottom of the pudding basin and then grease it with a little more butter. Pack the pudding mixture into the pudding basin, pressing as you add it. Fold a pleat into the middle of a large piece of baking paper and place over the pudding. Cover with a large piece of pleated foil, ensuring the pleats are on top of one another. Secure tightly with kitchen string tied under the lip of the pudding basin.

  5. Place an upturned saucer into a large saucepan one-quarter full of water. Fold a long piece of foil into quarters lengthways to create a long strip and place the pudding basin in the middle of the strip. Bring the sides of the strip up the sides of the pudding basin and lower into the saucepan. Ensure the water in the saucepan comes one-third of the way up the side of the pudding basin, but nowhere near the top of the basin. Leave the ends of the foil strip hanging over the side to make it easy to remove the pudding later.

  6. Bring the water to the boil and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Simmer gently for 5-6 hours, topping up the water level as necessary throughout cooking (do not allow the pan to dry out).

  7. Once the pudding is cooked, remove from the pan and set aside to cool. The pudding can be stored for up to two years in a cool, dry place. To serve, reheat the pudding by steaming again (in the same way) for two hours, or until hot all the way through. Alternatively, remove the foil and reheat in the microwave.

Traditional Christmas Pudding

Begin the day before you want to steam the pudding.

Take your largest, roomiest mixing bowl and start by putting in the suet and breadcrumbs, spices and sugar. Mix these ingredients very thoroughly together, then gradually mix in all the dried fruit, peel and nuts followed by the apple and the grated orange and lemon zests. Don’t forget to tick everything off as you go to make sure nothing gets left out.

Next in a smaller basin, measure out the rum, barley wine and stout, then add the eggs and beat these thoroughly together. Next pour this over all the other ingredients and begin to mix very thoroughly. It’s now traditional to gather all the family round, especially the children, and invite everyone to have a really good stir and make a wish!

The mixture should have a fairly sloppy consistency – that is, it should fall instantly from the spoon when this is tapped on the side of the bowl. If you think it needs a bit more liquid add a spot more stout.

Cover the bowl and leave overnight.

Next day stir in the sifted flour quite thoroughly, then pack the mixture into the lightly greased basin, cover it with a double layer of baking parchment and a sheet of foil and tie it securely with string (you really need to borrow someone’s finger for this!). It’s also a good idea to tie a piece of string across the top to make a handle. Place the pudding in a steamer set over a saucepan filled with simmering water and steam the pudding for 8 hours.

Do make sure you keep a regular eye on the water underneath and top it up with boiling water straight from the kettle about halfway through the time. When the pudding is steamed, let it get quite cold, then remove the baking parchment and foil and replace them with some fresh ones, again making a string handle for easy manoeuvring.

Now your Christmas pudding is ready for Christmas Day. Keep it in a cool place away from the light. Under the bed in an unheated bedroom is an ideal place.

On Christmas Day: Fill a saucepan quite full with boiling water, put it on the heat and, when it comes back to the boil, place a steamer on top of the pan and turn it down to a gentle simmer. Put the Christmas Pudding in the steamer cover and leave to steam for 2hrs 15 mins. You’ll need to check the water from time to time and maybe top it up a bit. When you are ready to serve the pudding, remove from the steamer and take off the wrapping. Slide a palette knife all around the pudding and turn it out on to a warmed plate. Place a suitably sized sprig of holly on top. Now warm a ladleful of brandy over direct heat and, as soon as the brandy is hot, turn out the flame and ask someone to set light to the brandy using a long match.

Place the ladle, now gently flaming, on top of the pudding – but don’t pour it over until you reach the table (if you don’t have a gas hob, warm the brandy in a small saucepan). When you do, pour it slowly over the pudding, sides and all and watch it flame to the cheers of the assembled company! When both flames and cheers have died down, serve the pudding with Christmas Rum Sauce, Cumberland Rum Butter or Brown Sugar Brandy Butter – see below.

If you have any left over, it will reheat beautifully, wrapped in foil, in the oven next day.

If you want two smaller puddings, use two 570ml basins, but give them the same steaming time.

If you want to make individual Christmas puddings for gifts, this quantity makes eight 175ml pudding basins. Steam for 3 hours, then resteam for 1 hour before serving. They look pretty wrapped in baking parchment and muslin and tied with attractive bows and tags.

To make this recipe gluten-free: Replace the suet with either gluten-free or gluten-free vegetarian suet. Use gluten-free white flour and breadcrumbs made from gluten-free bread, and replace the stout and barley wine with the same amount of sherry. If you are using gluten-free flour, you will need to add a pinch of baking powder to the gluten-free white flour.

Best Christmas pudding recipes

TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS PUDDING RECIPES

Want a traditional Christmas pudding recipe? This is a classic recipe for a luxurious homemade Christmas pudding. You can make this a couple of months ahead and keep it wrapped in the basin in a dark cupboard until the big day.

Easy Christmas pudding recipe

Got the family over and need an easy Christmas pudding? Steamed in the microwave, this Christmas dessert is a simple freeze-ahead festive pudding that takes only 40 minutes to make.

Quick Christmas pudding recipe

This fruit-packed Christmas pudding gets an extra flavour boost from stout. There’s no pre-soaking of ingredients involved so it’s an easy simple recipe to make for a celebration with friends and family. Serve with custard or brandy butter.

Luxury Christmas pudding recipe

Looking for an alternative Christmas pudding? Check out our luxury Christmas pudding recipe, it’s far lighter than a traditional Christmas pudding but still with a seasonal flavour. If you’d like things a bit richer use Billington’s dark muscovado sugar instead of the lighter sugar.

Ultimate ginger Christmas pudding recipe

Looking to jazz up your Christmas pudding this Christmas Day? Check out this indulgent steamed pudding recipe with seasonal cranberries and fiery ginger.

ALTERNATIVE CHRISTMAS PUDDING RECIPES

Need an easy make ahead christmas pudding recipe? Try these seriously decadent ginger sticky toffee puddings. A dark, rich toffee dessert spiked with fiery ginger – serve with cream, ice cream or custard.

Chocolate pudding recipe with Lindt’s

Check out our epic chocolate alternative to a Christmas pudding. Lindt balls buried in the centre of this deeply chocolatey pud give little melted caramel hits, perfect for a festive dessert that’s easy but really impressive.

Raisin and sherry pudding recipe

Want a seriously boozy Christmas pudding recipe? PX or Pedro Ximénez is a dark, sweet sherry with flavours of molasses and raisins. This would make a great twist to the traditional Christmas pudding and can be made in advance and rewarmed when you’re ready to serve.

Gingerbread pudding recipe with sticky toffee sauce

Check out our Christmas gingerbread pudding with sticky toffee sauce – an easy twist on a classic British dessert. Ginger is a traditional Christmas flavour and this recipe uses preserved and ground. You can use fresh grated ginger instead of the ground in the sponge, if you like.

AFTER DINNER TREATS

Treat someone special this Christmas with these melt-in-the-mouth chocolate truffles with a boozy kick.

Mary Berry’s Christmas pudding

  1. Measure the sultanas, raisins, apricots and apple into a bowl with the orange juice. Add the measured brandy (rum or sherry), stir and leave to marinate for about one hour.

  2. Put the measured butter, sugar and grated orange rind into a large bowl and cream together with a wooden spoon or a hand-held whisk until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a little of the measured flour if the mixture starts to curdle.

  3. Sift together the flour and mixed spice, then fold into the creamed mixture with the breadcrumbs and the nuts. Add the soaked dried fruits with their soaking liquid and stir well.

  4. Generously butter a 1.4 litre/2½ pint pudding basin. Cut a small disc of foil or baking parchment and press into the base of the basin.

  5. Spoon into the prepared pudding basin and press the mixture down with the back of a spoon. Cover the pudding with a layer of baking parchment paper and foil, both pleated across the middle to allow for expansion. Tie securely with string and trim off excess paper and foil with scissors.

  6. To steam, put the pudding in the top of a steamer filled with simmering water, cover with a lid and steam for eight hours, topping up the water as necessary.

  7. To boil the pudding, put a metal jam jar lid, or metal pan lid, into the base of a large pan to act as a trivet. Place a long, doubled strip of foil in the pan, between the trivet and the pudding basin, ensuring the ends of the strip reach up and hang over the edges of the pan. This will help you to lift the heavy pudding basin out of the pan of hot water when it has finished cooking.

  8. Lower the pudding onto the trivet and pour in enough boiling water to come half way up the side of the bowl. Cover with a lid, bring the water back to the boil, then simmer for about seven hours, until the pudding is a glorious deep brown colour, topping up the water as necessary.

  9. For the brandy butter, place the butter into a mixing bowl and cream with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy – or for speed use an electric hand-held mixer. Beat in the sieved icing sugar until smooth, then add brandy, rum or cognac, to taste. Spoon into a serving dish, cover and set aside in the fridge.

  10. When cooked through, remove the pudding from the pan and cool completely. Discard the paper and foil and replace with fresh. Store in a cool, dry place.

  11. To serve, on Christmas Day, steam or boil the pudding for about two hours to reheat. Turn the pudding onto a serving plate. To flame, warm the brandy or rum in a small pan, pour it over the hot pudding and set light to it. Serve with brandy butter.

Though it’s not fashionable to admit it in this age of chocolate tortilla-covered chips and salted caramel bombes, I bloody love Christmas pudding. However many pigs in blankets have been put away beforehand, no matter the number of chocolates scoffed in place of breakfast, I solemnly swear I’ll never ever give in to the inevitable suggestion that we save it until Boxing Day instead. Partly because Boxing Day is for trifle, and I’m not missing out on that, but mostly because it doesn’t matter how full I am, there’s always room for a little wedge of fruity stodge on top of the mound of other food.

And though it may seem rather early to be thinking of Christmas, we’re only days away from what’s traditionally known as “Stir-up Sunday”, thanks to the opening words from the Book of Common Prayer’s collect for the Sunday before Advent, “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people” – an unambiguous signal to dig out the silver sixpence and get mixing. Real pudding aficionados may have made them months ago, but, with more than a month to go before the big day, there’s still ample time to wield the wooden spoon.

The carbs

Mary Berry’s Christmas pudding: made with a standard cake base for a lighter, fluffier result. Photograph: Felicity Cloake/The Guardian

Christmas puddings are as much about texture as flavour – they should be unapologetically dense, without being solid. Mary Berry makes hers with a standard cake base, creaming together butter and sugar before adding eggs and flour, giving a lighter, fluffier result which, although delicious, doesn’t seem quite in the spirit of the dish.

Traditionally, such puddings are made from breadcrumbs and, often, flour; Richard Boston, author of this very newspaper’s first beer column, supplies a flour-free version, which may be to blame for his pudding’s soft, slightly oily consistency – the flour clearly does a better job of soaking up the melted suet than mere breadcrumbs alone. Gary Rhodes includes ground almonds in the recipe in Rhodes Around Britain, but I’d prefer to keep the batter fairly plain and allow the fruit to do the talking instead.

Raymond Blanc suggests using brown rather than white breadcrumbs; once everything is mixed together, the difference is fairly negligible, but still, a couple of testers claim to be able to detect a slightly maltier note, which is enough for me to recommend them, though whatever needs using up should do the job.

Berry uses self-raising flour, and Nigella Lawson and Rhodes add baking powder to their puddings. Older recipes employ no raising agents, but tastes change, and a slightly lighter consistency should be welcome at this point in proceedings.

The liquid

Nigella Lawson’s Christmas pudding: the fruit is soaked in sweet, dark, sticky sherry. Photograph: Felicity Cloake/The Guardian

Everyone uses eggs in their puddings, but Boston and the recipe from Florence White’s Good Things in England, reputedly from the court of George I (though historian Ivan Day casts doubt on its provenance), also add milk, resulting in a slightly squidgier texture we all rather like.

Boston and Rhodes’s stout also finds favour for the rich, almost savoury character it gives the pudding – less stridently alcoholic than Berry’s rum or White’s brandy, but a good match with the dark sugars and dried fruit. That said, we also prove suckers for Lawson’s fruit soaked in “sweet, dark, sticky sherry that has a hint of liquorice, fig and treacle about it” – doing it this way, rather than simply adding the booze to the mix and hoping for the best, means more flavour seems to find its way into the finished pudding. If you’re not a sherry fan, other sticky sweet alcohols would probably work, too, though I would respectfully suggest that madeira or tawny port might be a better bet than, say, Jägermeister.

The fruit

Gary Rhodes’s Christmas pudding: with grated apple and carrot. Photograph: Felicity Cloake/The Guardian

The backbone, indeed the whole skeleton of a Christmas pudding, which should be cram-full of the stuff – the plums originally referred to raisins, but that’s no reason to reject the juicy prunes deployed by Lawson and Rhodes, though I slightly prefer the sweeter, crunchier dried fig in combination with sweet little currants and juicy sultanas. Feel free to make up the weight with whatever you happen to have on hand, however; Berry uses dried apricots, for example.

Rhodes and Lawson both add grated apple to their puddings, with Rhodes chucking in a carrot for good measure, a combination also recommended in the 1922 recipe collected in Mary Gwynn’s WI Cookbook. I want to like this more than I do; the fresh stuff gives Rhodes’s pudding an almost mushy consistency, and testers agree they would prefer a bit more body. Eat more veg with your turkey instead.

Mixed peel is a must for me, because I love it, though if you’re able to find the candied citron called for by White, you’re a better person than me (as I discover too late, it is, inevitably, available online). I’m also a big fan of Berry’s blanched almonds, which add textural interest to a dessert that can sometimes feel a bit like it’s aimed at those who have mislaid their false teeth while napping during the Queen’s speech.

Sugar

Though all that fruit provides a hefty hit of sugar, a little more is welcome – it is Christmas, after all. Testers find Rhodes’s and Lawson’s dark muscovado a little too bitter for their liking, preferring the toffeeish sweetness of Boston and Berry’s light variety, though I will be sneaking in a little of Rhodes’s treacle, too, because it goes so well with the stout. Golden syrup or honey can be used instead if you’re not a fan.

Fat

Florence White’s Christmas pudding: uses fresh suet, which gives a distinct whiff of the chippie. Photograph: Felicity Cloake/The Guardian

Steamed puddings are one of the few excuses we have to break out the suet, although for once, I’d steer clear of the fresh kind, which gives White’s 18th-century recipe an almost greasy texture … and a distinct whiff of the chippie. Berry goes for butter, which, cold and grated, is a decent vegetarian substitute, though its lower melting point means puddings using it will have a denser texture than those made with suet – or, of course, you could brave vegetarian suet, if you can work out which contain non-hydrogenated vegetable oils from sustainable sources.

Flavourings

I’m going to keep things trad with the mixed spice everyone but Lawson deploys (she prefers cinnamon and cloves) and a little of Rhodes’s and Berry’s grated orange and lemon zest to add a citrussy freshness to the dish, though I shall not be using Boston’s and Rhodes’s lemon juice, because I don’t think Christmas pudding ought to be at all sour. If you taste the mix and disagree, however, feel free to add it to taste.

Storing and cooking

Rhodes suggests resting the mixture for up to a week before steaming, and, if you have the luxury of time, this will no doubt help the flavours develop even further. More important is to give it a long initial steam to caramelise the sugars – White suggests as much as eight hours, though I think Rhodes’ four hours is sufficient to cook them through.

The perfect Christmas pudding

Felicity Cloake’s perfect christmas pudding. Photograph: Felicity Cloake/The Guardian

Makes 1 x 1.4l/2½ pint pudding

400g dried fruit of your choice (I like 150g currants, 150g sultanas, 100g dried figs, roughly chopped)
50g candied peel
175ml pedro ximénez sherry
150g soft light brown sugar
1/2 tsp mixed spice
75g self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
75g fresh breadcrumbs, preferably brown
Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon and 1 unwaxed orange
150g suet
50g blanched almonds, roughly chopped
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp treacle
150ml stout
75ml milk

Soak the dried fruit and peel in the sherry overnight.

Whisk together the sugar, spice, flour, salt and breadcrumbs in a large mixing bowl then stir in the zest, suet and almonds. Beat together the egg and treacle then mix into the dry ingredients along with the stout and milk – stirring should traditionally be shared by everyone in the household, stirring from east to west, while making a wish. Stir in the fruit and any sherry in the bottom of the bowl, and then taste the mixture and add a little more mixed spice or sherry if you like, and any silver coins, rings or other charms you might like to break your family’s teeth on.

Thoroughly grease a 1.4l/2½ pint pudding basin, including the lid, and spoon the mixture in – it should be no more than three-quarters full. Cut a round of greaseproof paper to fit the top, then cover with a lid, or two pieces of pleated foil. Wrap the whole lot in foil to ensure it is watertight. Steam in a steamer – or a saucepan with a saucer, or the lid of a jar, in the bottom – for 4 hours, checking the water level regularly. Store in a cool place until Christmas Day, feeding occasionally with alcohol if you like your puddings boozy.

Steam for 1.5 hours then top with booze, light and serve with brandy butter, custard or (my favourite) ice-cream.

Am I alone in my wholehearted love of Christmas pudding, or does anyone else relish a slab of fruity stodge on the big day? And if you’re not a fan, what do you round off the meal with?

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12 days of Christmas (pudding): 12 recipes to make your pudding a winner

We’ve combed through our catalogue of Christmas pudding recipes to find these 12 — they’re the ones most popular with readers over the last 12 months.

Some are traditional, just right for a roast dinner; some are more modern and would be perfect for a Christmas barbecue or lighter lunch.

Whichever style you prefer, you’ll find something here.

Traditional puddings

These are recipes for the more traditional plum puddings — the sort of pudding your nan used to start making weeks ahead of Christmas.

  • Mum’s foolproof plum pudding: Rosemary Mowat’s mum made this boiled pudding recipe often, not just for Christmas.
  • Plum pudding in a slow cooker: ABC Radio Melbourne listener Karen supplied this recipe. Traditional style, but made in a slow cooker for convenience.
  • Great Christmas pudding: this one from the CWA and, if you can’t trust the CWA to know a good pudding recipe, who can you trust?
  • Mum’s Christmas pudding: this one can be steamed or boiled, whichever you prefer.
  • Mrs McGregor’s steamed pudding: comes with a bonus brandy sauce recipe.
  • Easy Christmas pudding: traditional with all the flavours, but a simple-to-follow recipe.

Modern puddings

By contrast, these recipes venture away from the traditional — they’re lighter or more suited to a summer’s day.

  • Lighter Christmas pudding: this recipe from Ian Parmenter only needs to start the day ahead of serving instead of weeks, and has a lighter flavour.
  • Easy plum pudding: this one has only eight ingredients, cooks in two hours, and can even be made on the day.
  • Ice cream Christmas pudding: you do need to plan ahead by a day, but it’s a simple recipe for a cold dessert.
  • Microwave Christmas pudding: individual baby puddings made in the microwave.
  • Phillippa’s Christmas pudding: this is a lighter-style pudding, featuring fresh spices and candied orange peel rather than intense fruit flavours.
  • Cold Christmas pudding: this one is almost no-cook; five minutes on the stove, and then into the fridge to chill.

Healthy puddings

Okay, “healthy” may be a stretch. But there are gluten-free or diabetic pudding recipes.

  • Diabetic Christmas pudding: no added sugar, but uses carrot and apple for sweetness. Does include brandy.
  • Gluten-free Christmas pudding: a delightful Christmas pudding that can be made up to three months ahead and kept in the fridge.
  • Gluten-free sago Christmas pudding: this pudding uses sago and gluten-free breadcrumbs, and offers a lactose-free option too.

Bonus bits

Some added extras to help give your Christmas pudding a bit of extra oomph.

  • Brandy custard: the traditional accompaniment for Christmas puddings — or one of them, anyway.
  • This bourbon bread and butter pudding recipe includes a pretty traditional creme Anglaise recipe, while this apple crumble recipe includes a modern lemon myrtle-flavoured Anglaise.
  • Frangelico sauce Anglaise: this has a lovely hazelnut flavour that goes well with puddings.
  • Rum sauce: this recipe makes about half a litre of rum sauce.
  • Three pudding sauce recipes: easy recipes for rum butter, brandy sauce and butterscotch sauce.

Can you put coins in puddings?

Long story short, modern coins (i.e. post-1966 decimal coins) don’t belong in Christmas puddings, unless you’re going to poke them in there after cooking, just before serving.

If you can get hold of some pre-1966 sixpence coins, those are fine for your pudding — just be sure they’re completely clean before they go in.

Traditional Irish plum pudding recipe for Christmas

An Irish plum pudding recipe for Christmas inspired by County’s Clare, Donegal, and Dublin!

Plum pudding is the essence of Christmas in Ireland and no one can ever make it like one’s own dear mother, but here’s a recipe that’s a little bit Clare and a little bit Donegal, with some Dublin thrown in for good measure.

Read More: Try this modern twist on the traditional Irish bread pudding recipe

There are many traditions and superstitions surrounding the Christmas pudding. Some traditions say to make the pudding by the 25th Sunday after Trinity, with 13 ingredients to represent Christ and His Disciples. Every member of the family is to take a turn stirring the pudding with a wooden spoon from east to west, in honor of the three kings.

It is said that setting the brandy aflame represents Christ’s passion. A sprig of holly as the garnish is a reminder if His ‘Crown of Thorns.’ Holly supposedly brought good luck and had special healing powers. It was often planted near houses in the belief that it protected the inhabitants.

Some families add coins to the pudding for luck. Everyone then stirs the pudding and makes a wish. Those who get the coins in their serving get wealth, health, happiness, and their wish will come true. Some people even add gold rings to the mix to indicate the finder will get married in the coming year.

A tradition that died out due to its depressing nature was the addition of thimbles or buttons to the pudding. This signaled that the finder would remain a spinster or bachelor forever, the loser slice if you will!

Read More: The very special celebration that is an Irish Christmas

Traditional Irish Christmas plum pudding recipe

Ingredients:

  • 10 eggs
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 4 ounces chopped almond pieces
  • 1 grated apple
  • 1 pound light brown sugar
  • 1 medium carrot, grated (this optional ingredient probably crept into the recipe during WWII when fruits were in short supply)
  • Rind and juice of an orange and a lemon
  • 3 pounds raisins, use some currants, some yellow, and some sultanas. The more variety in fruits, the better the pudding.
  • 8 ounces candied cherries or natural dried cherries
  • 24 ounces breadcrumbs
  • 12 ounces candied peel (candied pineapple chunks, citron, mixed peel)
  • 1 pint of Guinness
  • 5 tablespoons of hard liquor
  • 1 pound butter or finely minced suet if preferred

Method:

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Rub the raisins and other fruits with the flour and spices. The flour adheres to the stickiness of the fruits and gives the pud a nice even texture.

Cut the butter into fine pieces and mix well with the dry ingredients.

In a separate bowl, mix the liquid ingredients. When the liquids have been well stirred, add them to the bowl with the dry ingredients. Mix all together very well.

The batter should be a bit loose, a little thicker than a cake mix. If it’s dry like bread dough, add more Guinness.

My mother would grease a big square of unbleached muslin and pour the pudding into this, tying off the top with string. In these modern times, heat-proof bowls are an acceptable substitute for the cloth bag method … and much easier.

Line the bowl with parchment paper; fill to within an inch of the top of the bowl. Cover the batter with parchment paper and use a lid for steaming. Sealing the top of the bowl with foil will work if there is no self-lid for the bowl.

Fill the pot in which you are steaming the pudding to just below the top of the pudding bowl and gently boil for at least 12 hours. I use the slow cooker for this and it works very well. Depending on the size of the bowls used, you may get about three puddings from this recipe. I triple it and get at least a dozen quart-sized puddings. (Big family!)

When the pudding has cooled, remove it from the bowl, dribble brandy (or any other whiskey-type stuff) over the top of it, letting as much sink in as possible.

Seal the puddings in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil. (Don’t let the aluminum touch the pudding as there is a reaction that dulls the foil and I suspect this is not good for the pud or the people eating it.)

Let it sit for as long as possible before serving. Three or four months is not too long. Occasionally dribble the pudding with a shot of the spirit of your choice: brandy, whiskey, bourbon, etc.

Traditionally, the pudding was steamed again for an hour before serving. There are two possible methods: Remove the wrapping, return the pudding to the original bowl, and steam again for an hour.

Turn it out on a heat-proof serving plate and proceed to the lighting process that follows the brandy butter recipe or unwrap the pudding, place it on the serving platter, and microwave for 10 minutes at 50 percent power. The microwave method, though obviously not traditional, works exceptionally well, and has become traditional in my family!

Read More: Leftover brandy butter? Use it in this Christmas cookie recipe!

Brandy Butter (Hard Sauce)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 cup brandy (or whiskey, Irish or otherwise)

Method:

Soften butter. Beat the butter with an electric mixer until it’s fluffy.

Slowly add an equal amount or more of confectioner’s sugar. You will see that the mixture changes in texture.

Slowly add the brandy after this textural change in the sugar/butter blend. Beat further until the mixture becomes light and fluffy.

Spoon the brandy butter into serving dishes and chill until firm. When turning the mixture into the serving dish, finish off the top by swirling it into a circular pattern with the bottom of the spoon for a decorative effect.

Garnish everything with holly in berry if you have it.

Lighting the plum pudding

To light the plum pudding, pour a generous cup of Christian Brothers Brandy (none other!) on top. There’ll be a little puddle on the plate. That should light pretty easily and the blue flames will creep up the sides.

Douse the lights in the dining room to bring in the pudding to the acclaim of all at the table. Don’t be disappointed if the flame is out quickly. That’s how it goes.

I have no idea or wish to know the carb count of this wonderful traditional food. Save one pudding for New Year’s Day dinner if you can. Leftover pudding is generally fried in a little butter in a cast-iron pan the next day. Microwaving works just fine too, but will not please any Luddites at the table.

Read More: Irish apple crumble cake recipe is the ideal dessert

AND FINALLY…

Riding the favorite at Cheltenham, a jockey was well ahead of the field. Suddenly, he was hit on the head by a turkey and a string of sausages.

He managed to keep control of his mount and pulled back into the lead, only to be struck by a box of Christmas crackers and a dozen mince pies as he went over the last fence.

With great skill, he managed to steer the horse to the front of the field once more when, on the run-in, he was struck on the head by a bottle of sherry and a Christmas pudding.

Thus distracted, he succeeded in coming only second. He immediately went to the stewards to complain that he had been seriously hampered.

Read More: How to make homemade Irish cream

* Originally published in 2011.

What are your favorite Christmas recipes? Let us know in the comments!

Coming a close second to sprouts as the most contentious festive foodstuff served up for Christmas dinner is… Christmas pudding.

Rich, stodgy and highly boozy, the traditional pud divides us. Last year Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose reported a dip in sales of family-sized puddings, and instead a rise of one-portion puds, suggesting families are plumping for alternative post-turkey sweet treats.

If you still fancy serving up Christmas pudding, but fancy a more modern take, here are some alternative suggestions from Pinterest.

Christmas pudding Rice Krispie cakes

Add some snap, crackle and pop to your Christmas feast with these mini Rice Krispie cakes

Chocolate vegan Christmas pudding

Orange, fig and almond Christmas pudding

Make the most the season’s zingy Clementines and citrus fruit with this sticky pudding.

Date and ginger Christmas pudding

A hint of ginger will add some warmth to your pud.

Leftover Christmas pudding sundae

Use up leftover mulled wine, pud, cranberry sauce and chocolate in this savvy sundae.

Tunnock’s Teacake Christmas puddings

If there’s no one at home who enjoys traditional dessert, with a bit of clever decoration, these elevensies stalwarts cleverly double up as Christmas puds.

Iced Christmas pudding

This spicy cake is refreshing cold after a day’s feasting on hot food.

Healthy Christmas pudding

Take inspiration from Deliciously Ella with her healthier take on the traditional treat.

Blitz and bake sticky toffee Christmas pudding

Sweeten the blow if your guests don’t like pud with this syrupy alternative.

How do you like your Christmas pud? Tell us in the comments box below

How to cook a Christmas pudding

Learn how to cook, steam or microwave your Christmas pudding with our handy step-by-step guide, which also includes instructions on how to re-heat your pudding, if you do find yourself with some left after the festive feast. Our guide is for a medium pudding (1.2l/2pt) and also contains instructions for cooking and re-heating mini puddings (140ml/¼pt). Happy Christmas baking!
In the oven

Steaming

Using a microwave

How to…cook your pudding in the oven

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C, Fan 160°C, 350°F, Gas 4.
  2. Cover the pudding basin with tin foil, tucking in well at the outer rim.
  3. Stand the pudding in the bottom of a deep oven dish and add boiling water until it comes halfway up the pudding basin.
  4. Cover the oven dish with a lid or tin foil and bake in a hot oven 2 hours. If you are making mini puddings (140ml/¼pt) bake them in a hot oven 60 minutes.
  5. Carefully lift the lid occasionally and add more boiling water to keep the level halfway up the pudding basin.
  6. Leave the pudding to cool in the water then remove and store them in a cool dark place for up to two months.

To re-heat

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C, Fan 160°C, 350°F, Gas 4.
  2. Remove the tin foil and replace the parchment layer. Re-cover with tin foil, tucking it in well at the outer rim.
  3. Stand the pudding in the bottom of a deep oven dish and add boiling water until it comes halfway up the pudding basin.
  4. Cover the oven dish with a lid or tin foil and bake for in the hot oven 60 minutes (or 30 minutes for mini puddings).
  5. Turn out onto a warm plate and serve.

How to…steam your pudding on the hob

  1. Cover the pudding basin with tin foil, tucking it in well at the outer rim.
  2. Stand the pudding in the bottom of a large pan and add boiling water until it comes halfway up the pudding basin.
  3. Put the lid on the pan and simmer gently for 2 hours. For mini puddings (140ml/¼pt) simmer gently for 60 minutes.
  4. Lift the lid occasionally and add more boiling water to keep the level halfway up the pudding basin.
  5. Leave the puddings to cool in the water then remove and store them in a cool dark place for up to two months.
  6. Re-heat the pudding before serving.

To re-heat

  1. Remove the tin foil, check the pudding is in good condition and replace the parchment layer. Re-cover with tin foil, tucking it in well at the outer rim.
  2. Stand the pudding in the bottom of a large pan and add boiling water until it comes halfway up the pudding basin.
  3. Put the lid on the pan and simmer gently for 60 minutes. For mini puddings, simmer gently for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the pudding from the water.
  5. Put a plate on top of the pudding basin, carefully invert the pudding and serve.

How to…cook your pudding in the microwave

  1. Loosely cover the pudding (or mini puddings) with a piece of cling film.
  2. Microwave on medium-high (600 watts) for 3 minutes, leave to stand for 1 minute and cook for a further 3 minutes.
  3. Leave the pudding to cool, remove the film, cover tightly with tin foil and store in a cool dark place for up to two months.
  4. Re-heat the pudding before serving.

To re-heat

  1. Remove the tinfoil, check the pudding is in good condition and replace the parchment layer.
  2. Cover the pudding loosely with cling film.
  3. Microwave on full power (800w) for 3 minutes, leave to stand for 2 minutes.
  4. Put a plate on top of the pudding basin, carefully invert the pudding and serve.