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Traditional Christmas Pudding — Why Now?
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Traditional Christmas Pudding

Note: another recipe from Kryten in comments.

This very old fashioned recipe uses suet and has no sugar, so is diabetic friendly. 🙂
September to November is the perfect time to make this Christmas pudding.


  • 250 grams sultanas
  • 250 grams raisins
  • 250 grams currants (or substitute figs)
  • 250 grams mixed peel (or substitute prunes)
  • 3/4 cup of nice port (or substitute Irish stout)
  • 3 eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 250 grams chilled suet
  • 125 grams plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 250 grams fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon (or to taste) of each: mace, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.


  1. Combine all fruits with some port and allow to steep, covered in a ceramic bowl for min 12 hours or up to a week (longer is better).
  2. Combine flour, spices and breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Coarsely grate suet into dry mix. Add fruit with any remaining juices and eggs.
  3. Stir well. (Tradition dictates that each member of the family take a turn to stir and makes a wish for the coming year).
  4. Dust a square of clean unbleached calico with flour, heap pudding mixture into the middle then gather up cloth and tie it securely with string leaving a strong loop that the pudding can later hang from.
  5. Steam the pudding in a large soup pan (or large boiler, kettle) of just simmering water for 6 hours. Ensure the base of the pudding does not come into contact with the bottom of the pan, either sit it on an upturned saucer or sit it in a free standing colander within the pot, or suspend from a piece of wood across the top of the boiler (pan).
  6. Suspend the pudding in a cool, dry position to mature for a minimum 3 weeks to 6 months.


On Christmas day, steam as before for 2 – 2.5 hours.

Also, it REALLY need’s a good brandy custard on top (which is traditional). 🙂
Here’s a recipe (I should also have added) for that:


  • 300 milliliter [1 ¼ cup] milk
  • 300 milliliter [1 ¼ cup] pouring cream
  • 1 vanilla bean – split length ways
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 75 grams caster sugar
  • 60 milliliter [¼ cup] of your favorite brandy


  1. Combine milk, cream and vanilla bean in a sauce pan – bring just to the boil and remove from the heat.
  2. Beat egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale – whisk in strained cream mixture.
  3. Transfer mixture to a double sauce pan or heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water – stir until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
  5. Add brandy and cool to room temperature.

Suggestion: More Brandy!

Notes for Americans:

Get a scale and use it. Most of the rest of the world cooks by weight, so it gives you access to a lot more recipes.

British puddings are steamed dough, like American dumplings.

Sultanas are sold as golden raisins in the US.

Suet is beef fat [lard is pork fat]. Some people substitute unsalted butter, but you need to freeze it so it will grate like suet, and it doesn’t taste the same.

Mixed peel is candied citrus fruit peel.

Caster sugar is called superfine in the US, it is not confectionery sugar.

Pouring cream is light cream, but you’ll probably have to substitute half&half in the US as it has been years since I’ve seen light cream in a market.

There are molds that can be used, but you still need cloth. The cloth needs to be unbleached linen or cotton to stand up to the boiling and not impart anything to the pudding.

This is normally prepared on the first Sunday of Advent, but it would be better if it were prepared earlier, like the Labor Day weekend. The flavors need the time to meld, like making wine or cheese.

Many people in Britain put a sprig of holly on top and pour brandy over it to present it flambé at the table. You can pour clotted cream, crème fraîche, etc. on the individual servings, if you don’t make the brandy custard.

Another tradition it to put a coin in the pudding which is supposed to denote luck. This has been introduced to the Mardi Gras King cake. No need to go into the origin of this practice – it just upsets people to be reminded how these hallowed traditions started.


1 Badtux { 11.29.10 at 9:43 pm }

I’m sorry, but this has done nothing to improve my opinion of English cooking. I’m just surprised that nothing is boiled in this recipe (and *not* surprised that the instruction “DO NOT BOIL!” had to be explicitly given for the custard, heh!).

– Badtux the Foodie Penguin

2 Steve Bates { 11.29.10 at 10:18 pm }

It’s the old plaintiff’s attorney’s rule: if it moves, suet…

3 Bryan { 11.29.10 at 11:30 pm }

This is traditional, not haute cuisine. Charles Dickens would have eaten this. This is basically fruit cake, and with enough brandy you don’t care. Think hearty, stick-to-your-ribs fare for cold winter nights.

When the current clowns in government get done, you’ll wish you could afford a Christmas pudding.

4 cookiejill { 11.30.10 at 12:00 am }

Damn grams….
(BTW….how long does a comment have to be anyway?)

5 paintedjaguar { 11.30.10 at 12:17 am }

I think I’ve seen canned light cream in the Hispanic foods section on occasion.

Speaking of suet, remember when McDonald’s still cooked their fries in beef fat? You know, back when even food critics thought McD fries were the bomb? And fried apple pies, yum! Funny, since they started making things “healthy”, trying to eat their food guarantees me an acute case of indigestion. Never fails.

So you hang this pudding in the closet to “mature” for six months? And when does it crawl out of the sack and start devouring everything in it’s path?

6 Bryan { 11.30.10 at 12:36 am }

I haven’t found the bloody code that controls it to find out if you can just fill in with periods or it requires spaces, nor do I know why they are doing this. I was a change that showed up about three revisions ago.

7 Bryan { 11.30.10 at 12:46 am }

Yes, I remember with great fondness the original McDonald’s french fries, the only reason I would stop there. The milk shakes are now plastic, and the fries worthless. In a few years they will probably discover that the new cooking oil are worse for you than the suet, as has occurred with the butter v. margarine dispute.

The canned light cream in the Hispanic section is often evaporated milk, so you have to check to be sure.

It’s like a fruit cake, PJ, it takes a while for the flavors to meld.

8 Kryten42 { 11.30.10 at 8:55 am }

LOL You resurrected this old recipe of mine Bryan! 😀 Well, ’tis the Season (and all that!) 😉 😀

Hmmmm! I just realized I hadn’t seen the comments to this. Must have posted it last year before I was unavoidably AWOL for awhile. 🙁

LOL @ BadTux (…’cause he’s right!) 😉

I can still remember fondly my maternal Grandmother making this (usually in Sept.) when I was a wee lad! Unfortunately… we were only allowed a small piece with a little hot custard, and I suspect that was to ensure we slept soundly Christmas eve! My Grandparents were cunning! 😉

I really should find something else worthy of posting… Oh!! Reminds me… I did finally find Mom’s old cookbook (which I think I mentioned in a comment last year). This has been a hectic year for me, haven’t really had a chance to look at it. It did bring back some memories… good and bad (mostly good, but a bit melancholy I guess). 🙂 When I was a teen and started *partying*, my friends used to come over occasionally on a Sat afternoon and we’d usually plan what we would do for fun that evening. Often, Mom would suggest we stay home and she’d *bake some cakes and pies* etc. The first time, I remember, my friends were not too sure about this plan… 😉 But I had a really great HiFi system (that I’d saved over 2 years for, just the speakers cost me just over $2k (Electro-Voice Interface D’s, with a Spectro Acoustics Pre-Amp/Equalizer/Power-Amp/Tuner, this was 79/80. In a curious twist of fate, I met the guy who started Spectro Acoustics when I was working in the USA for GD. He was designing power supplies for the B1 and eventually the B2 nuclear cruise missile launchers! True! Small World…) Ahem, I digress…
Anyway, my friends loved Mom’s cooking (was a hell of a lot better than the normal take-away party food crap or club food we usually had on Sat nights!) We had a great time and my friends and I would always clean up everything (though, often that would be on Sunday with a few sore heads!) They loved my Mom (and her cooking) and were always very polite and she loved having them over too. My father, on the other hand… *shrug* who cares? We didn’t! 😆

Yeah… I’ll have to dig something out of Mom’s *Magic Cookbook*! 😀 😉

9 Badtux { 11.30.10 at 10:21 am }

Hmm, PJ, you have given me a *great* movie idea. “The Pudding”. Like “The Blob”, except, you know ;).

10 Bryan { 11.30.10 at 4:29 pm }

Kryten, ignore the anti-traditionalists. If you put hot sauce on it, Badtux would eat it.

I was a little late with it but I combined the pudding and custard recipes in one post and put it out there early enough if someone felt inclined to do it.

Recipes are always welcome.

Your Mom knew how to control teenagers – with food.