This traditional Christmas Pudding recipe heralds from my Great Grandmother. There is enough mix here for two normal sized puds, or one big and 12 mini ones. No need for specialist equipment for the mini ones either… a 12-hole muffin tin works perfectly here…
There are many things that have come to mark the start of the festive season for me – the first being Stir-Up Sunday.
Marking the last Sunday before the beginning of Advent, this is the traditional day when the family would gather to give the Christmas Pudding a good stir (from east to west to mimic the path of the Three Wisemen) and make a wish for the year to come. Silver coins and other trinkets can also be added at this point – the lucky finders being awarded good luck.
The rituals of Christmas make this time of year very comforting. I love it when it is time to decorate the tree – unwrapping the Christmas decoration feels like welcoming the return of old friends. Similarly, while my family is not particularly religious, there is something magical about our annual pilgrimage to Durham Cathedral for the Lighting of the Tree and Blessing of the Crib service. The combination of the historic building being plunged into darkness before the choir progress up the aisle, singing carols by candle light always sends a tingle down my spine. It also makes me chuckle at the memory of my three year old son on his first visit pretending he was Spiderman and firing spider webs at the Bishop!
The recipe I use for my Christmas Pudding comes from my Great Grandmother; tenderly recorded in my own Grandmother’s kitchen notebook and marked as ‘Xmas Pudding (Mother). The thing I like best about this recipe is that it produces a very light, tender pudding – not dark and treacly like some you can buy. The ingredients for fruit are suitably vague stating (mixed fruit) so I use a combination of dried dates, figs, cranberries, raisins and apricots. The dates especially give this pudding more than a hint of a seasonal sticky toffee pudding.
The quantities here are enough to make two generous Christmas Puddings. However, I like to make 1 normal sized pudding, and twelve mini ones. Experience has taught me that it is pure gluttony to serve a large pudding after the excesses of the main festive feast, so mini ones that have been steamed in a 12-hole muffin tin make the perfect portion size to end the meal off with something sweet. Their smaller size also makes them much quicker and more manageable to reheat in a crowded Christmas kitchen.
My favourite pudding basin to use with this recipe is a new Cornishware bowl; suitably festive in red and white. They make great gifts for loved ones – even better when parcelled up, filled with a homemade pud.
My Methodist Great Grandmother’s recipe does not originally include any booze. I have rectified this with a healthy addition of both brandy and Cointreau. While she may not have approved of this, I certainly do! I have also developed a technique where the fruit does not require an overnight soaking in the booze – something very handy if you come into stir-up Sunday at the last minute!Print
- 680g dried fruit – choose a combination that you like (I use 200g dates, 200g dried figs, 100g raisings, 100g dried apricots, 80g dried cranberries)
- 225g brown bread crumbs (made from 280g of fresh brown bread)
- 115g flour
- 115g golden granulated sugar
- 115g light brown sugar
- 1tbsp golden syrup
- 225g vegetable suet
- 1 coarsely grated carrot
- 1 coarsely grated apple
- 1tbsp marmalade
- 1tsp mixed spice (I use my Pumpkin Spice Mix – see recipe on this site)
- ½ tsp Nutmeg (around half a grated nutmeg)
- ½ tsp salt
- 1tsp baking powder
- 3 eggs
- 60ml brandy and 60ml Cointreau (or 120ml of one or the other – or none at all!)
- 80ml milk
- Measure the dried fruits into a sturdy pan and pour over the brandy and/or Cointreau. If you are not using alcohol, substitute this with either water or preferably fresh orange juice. Clamp the lid on the pan and warm it gently over a low heat for around 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionaly to redistribute the fruit. You don’t want to boil the liquid, just warm it so that it is absorbed into the fruit. When ready, remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly while you prep the other ingredients.
- Take 280g of fresh brown bread and cut it into cubes. Spread over a large baking tray and place into the oven at 120C/250F/Gas Mark ½. Toast the bread for about 20 minutes before blitzing in a food processor to make your breadcrumbs.
- Mix the breadcrumbs with the flour, sugars, suet, salt, baking powder and spices in a large bowl. Peel the carrot and apple (also removing the core from the apple) before coarsely grating both into the dried fruit. Stir through to evenly combine before pouring the fruit into the dry ingredients. Stir well to distribute.
- Whisk the eggs, milk and marmalade into a jug and tip into the mixture. Give everything a good stir before calling the family through one-by-one to each take their turn mixing while silently making a wish. When everyone has taken their turn, you can prep the baking.
- For two large puddings: take two 1 litre pudding basins. Use a little sunflower oil to grease the basins before cutting a circle of greaseproof paper to fit into each base. Share the mixture evenly between the bowls, patting it down firmly and smoothing off the tops. Leave a 2-3cm gap from the top of the bowls. Take a square of greaseproof paper and foil – cutting large enough to cover the top of each basins with a 5cm overhand all round. Spread a little sunflower oil over the greaseproof paper and lay over the sheet of foil – oil side facing upwards to you. Form a pleat in the middle of the sheets by folding in half before folding back again. You need the pleat to allow the pudding to expand while it cooks. Lay the foil and paper over the basins, the oil side of the paper facing the pudding mix, and secure tightly with string. You need a tight close to make sure that water cannot get into the pudding mix. When you are happy that it is tightly sealed, use another length of string to tie a handle over the top of the pudding basin, securing each end to the band of string around the basin. This will make it easy for you to lift the pudding in and out of the pan.
- Take two large pans and place an heat-proof saucer or ramekin upside down on the bottom of the pan. Pour in some boiling water from the kettle into each pan, enough to come up about 5cm from the bottom of the pan. Place the pudding into the pans, sitting them ontop of the saucer or ramekin and place the lids on the pans. Put the pans over a medium-high heat and steam the puddings for 4 hours – topping up the pans every so often with fresh boiled water to make sure they don’t run dry. When the cooking time is up, remove from the pans and allow to cool before resealing the basins in exactly the same way with fresh papers and foils. Put away somewhere cool and dark until Christmas Day. My Mum tells me that my Great Grandmother would mature the puddings for 12 months before eating – but they can be eaten the same year as they are made.
- For the mini puddings: Preheat the oven to 140C/280F/Gas Mark 1. Cut 12 discs of greaseproof paper to fit the base of a 12-hole muffing tray. Lightly oil the tin and place the discs at the bottom of each hole. Equally fill each hole with mixture, patting the mixture down firmly and leaving a 1cm gap from the top of each hole. Take a large sheet of greaseproof paper and lay it on top of a large sheet of foil. Lightly oil the greaseproof paper – oil side facing up to you. Form a pleat down the middle of the papers by folding in half, and folding back over, leaving a central fold to allow the puddings to expand and rise. Secure the papers tightly over the muffin tray, tucking tightly around the edges to prevent water getting into the mix.
- Get a large roasting tray – big enough to fit the muffin tray inside it. I use the grill pan that came with my oven for this. Place four ramekins upside down in the tray to form a stand for the muffing tray to sit on. Pour in an entire kettle’s worth of freshly boiled water (about 2 litres) before standing the tray on top of your make-shift ramekin stand. Tent foil over the roasting tray, tucking in tightly around the edges to form a seal. Carefully place the whole tray into the oven and steam away for 2 hours.
- When all the puddings have finished baking, allow them to cool before removing from the tray. Wrap each pudding in a square of greaseproof paper and two layers of kitchen foil – sealing the ends on the top of the pudding. Store in a cool, dark cupboard until Christmas Day.
- To reheat on Christmas Day: The best way to heat the puddings before serving is to steam them again.
- For the large pudding, place a ramekin upside down in a pan and pour in boiling water. Rest the pudding basin on top of the makeshift ramekin trivet and close the pan lid. Steam away for 2 hours 30 minutes. Turn the pudding onto a plate and pour 125ml of warm (not boiled) brandy over the top before carrying to the table and striking a match to burn off the alcohol. This ‘flaming’ of the pudding is an impressive table-top tradition – but do be careful not to set fire to anything else (and keep small children way back!).
- For the mini puddings, place a steamer basket over a pan of boiling water. Put the desired quantities of puddings into the basket before closing the lid. Steam for 1 hour before serving with a tablespoon or warmed (not boiled) brandy over each pudding – ‘flamed’ at the table as above.
- Prep Time: 40 minutes
- Cook Time: 4 hours
- Category: Christmas Pudding
- Cuisine: British
Keywords: Christmas pudding, Christmas baking, stir up Sunday, xmas, Christmas, festive