Traditional Christmas Pudding

This is my favourite Christmas pudding recipe, the one that I keep coming back to after having tried several over the years.

I have adapted it to include information for my American friends.

For example, if you are unable to find raisins or currants, simply use the same weight or cup measure in fruitcake mix instead and omit the mixed or candied peel.

If you are unable to buy suet, substitute it for Crisco.

I’ve also given tips on removing the rind or zest from fruit and hints about steaming your puddings, the more experienced blind or visually impaired cook won’t need these of course and can easily scroll down past them, but these tips are useful for some of us.

You will need:

  • 4 oz, 110 g, shredded suet or unflavoured Crisco.
  • 2 oz, 50 g, half a cup, self-raising flour. This should be sifted, plus a heaped tbsp extra to add to the Crisco.
  • 4 oz, 110 g, 1 heaped cup of white breadcrumbs made from a loaf that is a couple of days old.
  • Half a teaspoon of ground mixed spice.
  • A quarter of a teaspoon of grated or ground nutmeg.
  • A quarter of a teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
  • 8 oz, 225 g, one and a quarter cups, of soft brown sugar.
  • ,

  • 4 oz, 110 g, 1 cup, of sultanas or golden raisins, seedless.
  • 4 oz, 110 g, one cup, of raisins or fruitcake mix.
  • 10 oz, 275 g, two and a half cups, of currants or fruitcake mix.
  • 1 oz, 25 g, one level tbsp, chopped, mixed or candied peel. Omit this if using fruitcake mix.
  • 1 oz, 25 g, 1 level tbsp chopped or slivered almonds.
  • 1 small eating or dessert apple peeled, cored and finely chopped.
  • The grated rind or zest of one small orange and one small lemon.
  • 2 medium sized eggs.
  • 2 tablespoons of brandy or rum.
  • 5 fluid ounces, 150 ml, a quarter of a pint, 2-thirds of a cup, of barley wine.
  • 5 fluid ounces, 150 ml, a quarter of a pint 2-thirds of a cup, of stout or dark coloured beer.
  1. Firstly, if you are using Crisco instead of suet, take it straight from the fridge chop or break it into tiny pieces and mix it with a level tablespoon of flour to separate it out so that it feels like fine breadcrumbs. This will enable it to be incorporated into the pudding mixture more evenly and it won’t all stick together.
  2. Now put the suet or Crisco, breadcrumbs, flour, spices and sugar into a large mixing bowl, mixing in each ingredient thoroughly with a large, wooden spoon, before adding the next.
  3. Now, gradually add in all the dried fruit, peel and nuts, one ingredient at a time, mixing thoroughly as you go.
  4. Follow these with the chopped apple, orange, lemon rind.

Tips on Removing Rind from your Fruit

A good way to remove the rind is with the coarse side of a metal “box” grater, standing on a plate.

Hold the top handle of the grater firmly with one hand, take the fruit in the other and rub it back and forth over the coarse side that has the teeth compacted together, a bit like coarse, sharp sandpaper so watch your fingers, smile.

Do this only a couple of times, then turn the fruit round a little bit and repeat the process until you can feel the slightly moist, pulpy pith that is just below the zest.

You don’t want any of this in the pudding, so be careful not to grate down too far.

Add the rind to the mixing bowl from the plate, being sure to tap the grater over the bowl as well, then run your fingers up and down the inside of it to remove any that has stuck.

There will still be quite a lot left in the teeth on the outside of the grater, just let it dry out a bit and tap it over the bowl again.

  1. Break the eggs into another medium sized bowl, beat them well with a fork, mix in the brandy or rum, barley wine and stout.
  2. Tip the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and Stir very thoroughly for several minutes, it might be necessary to add a little more stout at this point to make sure that the pudding is of a firm dropping consistency, when the mixture will fall from the spoon when shaken quite firmly, above the bowl.
  3. This is the point where you might like to have some help with the mixing and let everyone in the house carry out the tradition to make a wish.
  4. After you have finished mixing the pudding, cover the bowl with Clingfilm, so that it is airtight, and leave it to stand in a cold place overnight so that all the flavours become absorbed into each other.
  5. The fridge would be an ideal place, but if you don’t have room, a cold garage or outhouse will do just as well.
  6. The next day, grease the base and sides of the pudding basins with a little butter or margarine and fill them almost to the top with the mixture.
  7. Cover the top of each pudding with a piece of greased greaseproof or waxed or silicone paper and then put a piece of kitchen foil over the top, securing everything around the top rim of the basin with string or a large elastic band.
  8. Now steam the puddings, either by placing each one in a covered graduated steamer over a large saucepan of water or, put each basin in a covered, half filled saucepan, making sure that the water only comes about half way up the outside of the bowl by standing it in first to check, before you start to steam it.

Tips on how to recognise that your pudding is boiling

When you first turn on the heat, the pan won’t make any noise at all, then gradually you will begin to hear a noise that sounds a bit like your kettle as it begins to boil, quiet at first, gradually building up, then getting quiet again as the water gets hotter.

This sound will be replaced by a constant hissing as the water reaches boiling point, now is the time to reduce the heat to simmer, listening for a quiet, constant hiss as you gradually turn it down.

if you don’t hear anything at all, you’ve reduced the heat too much and the pan has stopped steaming.

Double check if you wish, by carefully lifting the saucepan or steamer lid by the knob and you should feel a slight, gentle stream of steam rising to meet your hand.

Boil the puddings gently for 6 hours, yes, six hours, for the smaller puddings or eight hours for the large one, ensuring that the pans do not boil dry.

It will be necessary to add more water to the saucepans if you are not using graduated steamers, you can do this about half way through the cooking time by adding more warm water from a jug.

When the puddings have been boiling for their allotted time, turn off the heat and leave them for half an hour or so to cool slightly before lifting the pans from the heat.

Take the pudding basins out of the pans and steamers, letting them cool completely.
Next, take off the foil and paper. Re-cover each bowl with fresh, greased greaseproof
or parchment or silicone paper, then with kitchen foil, securing it around the
rim of the bowl with either string or an elastic band.

Re-steam them on Christmas morning for two
hours in the same way as given earlier in the recipe, remembering to take your
puddings out of the freezer the night before.

When Should I Do All Of this?

Christmas pudding is best made in mid to late November
to give it a little time to mature.
But will still taste excellent if made jus tbefore Christmas.
It is customary to put a few silver coins into the pudding when you are stirring it, before leaving it to stand
overnight, wrap each coin individually in foil though, so
that they will be visible when the pudding is served, just in case young
children are present at the Christmas meal, the more visible they are, the less
chance there is of anyone swallowing one.
If this is a concern, please leave them out.

Although this is the Traditional way to make a Christmas pudding, you can cut down on the
time a little by heating them through in the microwave on Christmas morning, by
removing the foil and heating each one for about 8 to 10 minutes or until hot, on
a medium setting. Don’t do this if you’ve put coins inside though!
Luck is supposed to come to you if you are one of the fortunate ones to
find a coin.
Try making a wish when making the pudding too, and I sincerely hope your wish comes true.

My greetings come to you for this festive season.