Christmas pudding

Christmas pudding

Leiths How to Cook
Peter Cassidy

The fruit for this pudding needs to be prepared a day ahead of steaming.


Quantity Ingredient
60g mixed dried apricots and dried figs
1 lemon
50g raisins
30g currants
50g sultanas
20g chopped mixed peel
75ml brown ale
1/2 tablespoon rum
1 teabag
30g prunes
60g butter, softened, plus extra to grease
1/2 small dessert apple
20g blanched almonds
85g soft dark brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon treacle
1 small egg, at room temperature
30g self-raising flour
1/4 teaspoon ground mixed spice
pinch ground cinnamon
small pinch freshly grated nutmeg
small pinch ground ginger
small pinch salt
60g fresh white breadcrumbs


  1. Roughly chop the apricots and figs. Finely grate the zest from the lemon, then squeeze the juice from half the lemon. Put the raisins, currants, sultanas and mixed peel into a bowl and add the ale, rum and lemon zest and juice. Cover and leave to soak overnight. Make a pot of tea with the teabag and leave to cool. Put the prunes in a separate bowl, pour over the cold tea and leave to soak overnight.
  2. When ready to steam the pudding, grease a 1 litre pudding basin with butter. Prepare the saucepan for steaming and the cover for the pudding.
  3. Drain the prunes, discarding the tea, then coarsely chop them and add to the fruit and beer. Grate the unpeeled apple and finely chop the almonds.
  4. Put the butter and sugar into a large bowl and cream together until pale and fluffy. Stir in the treacle.
  5. Beat the egg and gradually add to the creamed butter and sugar, beating well after each addition.
  6. Sift the flour, spices and salt together over the mixture. Add the breadcrumbs and fold in with a large spoon. Stir in the nuts, dried fruit and soaking liquor.
  7. Spoon the mixture into the buttered pudding basin and level the surface. Cover with the greaseproof paper and foil and secure under the rim, leaving a string handle to make it easier to lift the pudding.
  8. Place the pudding basin on the trivet in the steamer and pour in enough boiling water to come at least halfway up the sides of the basin (not touching the foil). Place the pan over a medium heat and ensure the water is bubbling gently, but still not coming into contact with the foil.
  9. Put the lid on the pan and steam the pudding for 8 hours, checking the water level in the saucepan frequently and topping up with hot water to ensure it doesn’t burn dry.
  10. After 8 hours, lift the pudding carefully out of the steamer and remove the string and greaseproof paper cover. Wearing oven gloves, invert a serving dish over the bowl and turn both over together. Give the pudding basin a sharp shake, which should release the pudding, and carefully remove the basin. Serve the Christmas pudding with brandy butter or custard.

A note on steaming and reheating...

  • The first few hours of steaming are the most important, so make sure it maintains a good, steady boil. Once the pudding is cooked it can be cooled intact, with the foil still on, and kept in a cool place for a few months. To reheat the pudding, steam it as above for 2–2½ hours.

To make your own brandy butter...

  • Beat 75 g butter until well softened. Sift in 75 g icing sugar (or use caster sugar if you prefer a slightly granular texture) and beat again until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in 3 tablespoons brandy and scoop into a serving bowl.

    For an orange flavoured version, use Cointreau in place of the brandy and add the grated zest of ½ orange as you beat the butter to soften it.
Leiths School of food and wine
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