Christmas pudding

Every year I make Christmas pudding. It’s become somewhat of a tradition. It all began when I was vegetarian and I couldn’t find a Christmas pud that was both veggie and nut free (my mum is allergic to nuts). I started searching books for recipes as this was pre-Pinterest days and I didn’t go straight to the net for recipes. I came across a recipe in a magazine and have used it ever since. See my dog-eared, flour pocked, mixture stained copy below.  

As I altered the recipe I scribbled all over the page and now have created my own version, but even this changes every year. One year I had breadcrumbs the next none. Sometimes I use brandy, sometimes I add beer as well but there’s got to be brandy as it just smells of Christmas. Add beer if you like BUT beware that the pudding rises more due to the yeast in the beer so leave extra room at the top of the pudding basin. I learnt this the hard way!! 

So the version below is my standard recipe. I’ve now completely removed the breadcrumbs and added more fruit and spices.

Frank and Josie’s House Christmas Pud


  • 210g self-raising flour
  • 1/4 tsp each cinnamon, ground cloves, nutmeg and mace
  • Pinch of mixed spice for extra spice
  • 200g shredded suet
  • 280g sugar (light brown by preference but granulated works well too)
  • 200g each of currants, sultanas and raisins 
  • 100g chopped mixed peel
  • 100g each stoned dates and dried apricots chopped 
  • 1 apple cored and chopped (I leave the skin on)
  • 5 eggs, beaten 
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 150ml brandy 


  1. Sift the flour and spices into the mixing bowl and add all the fruit then mix together. Add in the eggs and orange zest and juice, mix together well then add brandy. I’ll be honest I never measure the brandy, I just add it until it looks and smells right! If you add beer add 150ml and just a splash of brandy BUT remember to leave extra room at the top of the pudding basin. Now for the important part- make a wish as you stir! I get the whole family to make a wish individually. Then cover the mixture and leave for at least 12 hours.
  2. Grease 2 x 1 1/2 pint pudding basins. I use either plastic with a well-fitted lid or an old fashioned ceramic pudding dish which adds a quirk of Dickens to the proceedings. You can use smaller basins to make smaller puddings but remember to not cook for as long! Divide mixture into your basins leaving raising room at the top. If using the ceramic basins like I did you then next to make a pleat with a square of grease-proof paper.  

    puddings with the paper


    final covering of foil

  3. To do this you lay the paper flat and fold over with one side longer than the other, then fold back leaving a 2cms crease in the middle. Repeat the other way so you form a cross in the paper with pleats underneath the cross. Fix in place with string around the top of the basin. I use an elastic band to keep the paper still but remember to remove this before cooking. Then repeat with a covering of foil. Fold a strip of foil and place under the basin using it as a way to lift the pudding out. Stand each basin in a pan which takes a lid then add boiling water until it comes half way up the pudding and steam for 4 hours, checking the water regularly and only topping up with boiling water, not cold.
  4. Once cooked replace the covers if using ceramic basins then store in a cool dry place. The puddings can last for a year if well stored.
  5. On the big day steam as before for 2-3 hours until hot. Stand for a few minutes before turning out on to a pre-warmed plate, splash brandy over and light for the classic blue flames.

Merry Christmas.