A survey in 2007 found that two thirds of British children had never stirred a Christmas pudding mix and it’s now thought that more than 90% of families buy pre-made puddings.

I have happy memories of Stir-Up Sunday (traditionally, the last Sunday before Advent) in my family home – when we would make our Christmas pudding. My mum would have her three little girls eagerly stirring before throwing silver sixpences into the fruity, spicy and a little-bit-boozy pudding mix. Our eyes would have to be closed because each coin also paid for a Christmas wish.

The smell of the pudding steaming is one which fills the house with the promise of an exciting Christmas to come. Once steamed, the pudding is stored so it is nicely mature before being re-heated and set aflame with brandy on Christmas day.

So here’s my favourite recipe for Christmas pudding. The pudding is not a family recipe as I don’t like the really dark, dense mixtures favoured by my mum and granny. It’s a lighter, less intense mixture which seems to me more palatable after a heavy turkey lunch. You might even persuade the ever-reluctant children in your family to try a little – with custard or a large dollop of Cornish clotted cream.

Many people think it’s a nonsense to make your own Christmas pudding and cake, especially as our modern tastes have moved away from a heavy dose of dried fruit. But it’s a tradition that, for me, is part of the magic of Christmas.


This recipe makes enough to fill one 1.2 litre/2 pint basin or two 600ml/1 pint basins. It can be made up to a month before Christmas and stored in a cool, dry place.


115g/4oz/1/2 cup butter, plus extra for greasing
25g/8oz/1 heaped cup of soft dark brown sugar
50g/2oz/1/2 cup self-raising flour
5ml/1 teaspoon  mixed spice
1.5 ml/1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2.5ml/ ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs
115g/4oz/2 cups fresh white breadcrumbs
175g/6oz/1 cup sultanas
175g/6oz/1 cup raisins
115g/4oz/1/2 cup currants
25g/1oz/3 tablespoons mixed candied peel, chopped finely
25g/1oz/1/4 cup chopped almonds
1 small cooking apple, peeled, cored and coarsely grated
Finely grate rind of 1 orange or lemon juice of 1 orange or lemon, made up to 150ml/1/4 pint/2/3 cup with brandy, rum or sherry.


  • Cut a disc of greaseproof paper to fit the base of the basin and butter the disc and basin.
  • Whisk the butter and sugar together until soft. Beat in the flour, spices and eggs. Stir in the remaining ingredients thoroughly.
  • Turn the mixture into the basin and level the top. Cover with another disc of buttered greaseproof paper.
  • Make a pleat across the centre of a large piece of greaseproof paper, folding in both directions, and cover the basin with it, tying it in place with string under the rim. Cut off the excess paper.
  • Pleat a piece of foil in the same way and cover the basin with it, tucking it around the bowl neatly. Tie another piece of string around the basin and across the top, as a handle.
  • Place the basin in a steamer over a pan of simmering water. Steam for 6 hours if a large pudding, 2 hours for individual puddings. Alternatively, put the basin into a large pan and pour round enough boiling water to come halfway up the basin and cover the pan with a tight fitting lid. Check the water is simmering and top it up with boiling water as it evaporates. When the pudding have cooked, leave to cool. Remove the foil and greaseproof paper. Wipe the basin clean and replace the greaseproof paper and foil with clean pieces, ready for reheating.

To serve: Re-steam a large pudding for two hours before serving; smaller, individual puddings need only 1hour. Turn onto a plate and leave to stand for 5 minutes before removing the pudding basin. Serve with brandy or rum butter, whisky sauce or custard. Delicious!

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Stay tuned this week for my Christmas Cake recipe that the whole family swears by, including advice on icing - royal or fondant, which do you prefer?

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