Holiday Traditions ~ Christmas Pudding

Each year for Christmas I try something new. Last year I made Beef Wellington for our Christmas dinner and a traditional Christmas Pudding for dessert.

For those of you not familiar with the British dish, a Christmas Pudding, or Plum Pudding as it’s also called, is a tasty concoction of dried fruits, spices, and brandy. I know, some of you just went straight to ‘fruit cake’ didn’t you? Well, Christmas Puddings are similar, but oh so different.

Since Christmas Puddings need to be made well in advance to allow it to mature, I wanted to get this post up now, in case any of you are tempted to make a new tradition in your household. Traditionally, the pudding is made on ‘Stir up Sunday’ the Sunday before Advent ~ this year that is on November 20th with Advent starting on November 27th.

Don’t be put off by the number of ingredients in this recipe, it just seems daunting. If you assemble all your ingredients in advance, it will go super fast.

Christmas Pudding

**soak the dried fruit the night before so it’s ready to go on Stir Up day!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb dried mixed fruit (golden raisins, raisins, currants, etc) **
  • 1 oz. mixed candied peel, finely chopped (buy from the store – don’t try to make your own. Trust me on this)
  • 1 small cooking apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
  • Grated zest and juice of 1/2 large orange and 1/2 lemon
  • 4 tbs brandy, plus a little more for soaking at the end
  • 2 oz. self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1 level tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 oz. shredded suet, beef or vegetarian (okay, I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a local suet supply. I just used grated butter – make sure it’s really cold before shredding)
  • 4 oz. soft, dark brown sugar
  • 4 oz white fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 oz. roughly chopped almonds
  • 2 large eggs

Preparation:

Lightly batter a 2 1/2 pint pudding basin (I bought a pudding bowl for this, but you can use any pyrex bowl that can withstand steaming)

**Place the dried fruits, candied peel, apple, orange and lemon juice into a large mixing bowl. Add the brandy and stir well. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and leave to marinate for a couple of hours, preferably overnight.

Stir together the flour, mixed spice and cinnamon in a very large mixing bowl. Add the suet (or butter), sugar, lemon and orange zest, bread crumbs, nuts and stir again until all the ingredients are mixed well. Finally, add the marinated dried fruits and stir again.

Beat the eggs lightly in a small bowl and then stir quickly into the dry ingredients. The mixture should have a fairly soft consistency.

Now is the time to gather the family for the Christmas Pudding Tradition of taking turns in stirring and making a wish.

Spoon the mixture into the greased pudding basin, gently pressing the mixture down with the back of a spoon. Cover with a double layer of waxed paper or parchment paper, then a layer of aluminum foil and tie securely with a string.

Place the pudding in a steamer set over a saucepan of simmering water and steam the pudding for 7 hours. Make sure you check the water level frequently so it never boils dry. The pudding should be a deep brown color when cooked.

Remove the pudding from the steamer, cool completely. Remove the paper, prick the pudding with a skewer and pour in a little extra brandy. Cover with fresh waxed paper and retie with string. Store in a cool dry place until Christmas Day.

On Christmas Day reheat the pudding by steaming again for an hour. When you are ready to serve, turn out the pudding on to a serving place and decorate with a sprig of holly.

Christmas Pudding can be served with brandy or rum sauce, brandy butter, or custard.

Enjoy!

Just a couple of fun facts about Christmas Pudding!

Christmas Pudding is traditionally made with 13 ingredients to represent Christ and his disciples.

A proper Christmas Pudding is always stirred from East to West to honor the three Wise Men who visited the baby.

Every member of the family must give the pudding a stir and make a secret wish.

Image courtesy of Tidewatercoinclub.org

A coin was traditionally added to the ingredients and cooked in the pudding. It was supposed to bring wealth to whomever found it on their plate on Christmas Day. The traditional coin was an old silver sixpence or three penny bit.

Other traditional additions to the pudding have been a ring to foretell a marriage or a thimble for a lucky life. (I don’t do this tradition as I’m afraid someone might choke on the coin and that would be a Christmas bummer.)

What are some traditions you’ve held onto over the years? Do you like to try new ideas or stick with what you know?

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37 thoughts on “Holiday Traditions ~ Christmas Pudding

  1. I LOVE the facts behind your Christmas pudding! How fun. I gotta try it and maybe it would become our new family tradition? Who knows? I’m from Poland and we have some fabulous Christmas traditions — I might write a post about it closer to the Holidays 🙂
    Thank you for sharing the recipe and the facts. So interesting.

  2. That sounds MUCH better than a fruitcake! My family has German heritage so we’re always mixing up lebkuchen and springerle cookies the weekend after Thanksgiving. They sit and “ripen” until the holidays. Both are either loved or hated. Maybe one of these years we’ll try to pudding, too.

    • It’s so much better! Lebkuchen and springerle cookies are so yum. I also love to get a stollen, but I think that’s Danish. Or is it German? Not sure, but it’s gooood.

      Give the pudding a try, but make sure you have the brandy butter to go with it!

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  4. I love Christmas Pudding – although I have always cheated and bought them from the store. I even managed to find one here in the US last year! It was a store that sold British goods though. I think the origins of the pudding go back before Christianity, although like many old traditions was absorbed into Christianity (like holly, mistletoe, wreaths etc). My favourite part is pouring the brandy over and lighting it on fire to serve it. And if you haven’t tried it with Brandy Butter you simply must – it’s easy to make too, butter, powdered sugar and ….of course… brandy 🙂

    • What? You cheated and bought one? That’s it. I’m taking your British card away from you. Trust me, homemade is SO much better! I wish you could be here – this year I made a Christmas Cake waaaaay back in July and I’ve been sprucing it up each week with a little brandy. Oh, yeah. That baby is going to be awesome.

      And yes, brandy butter is a must!

  5. We generally go with the traditional dishes, but we did try the Christmas pudding – my hubby is English. Definitely the boughten version, as neither one of us are the best cooks! It was delish! Thanks for the recipe!

    • You’re welcome Carrie! Okay, I’m going to give your hubby a pass for buying the pudding from the store (very sexist of me, I know), but you really should try a homemade one someday.

      Say, are you planning to put any yummy holiday drinks on your blog? I bet they’d go great with Christmas Pud!

  6. What a great tradition 🙂 My family always put our Christmas Tree up the day after Thanksgiving instead of going out shopping, and I’ve continued that tradition with my husband (when we aren’t back home visiting, that is!). We don’t have any other traditions (yet!) but I’m always open to trying new ones out and see what sticks 🙂

    • Hey Rebecca! Thanks for stopping in today. Oh, I love shopping on Black Friday. Not at 4am and racing through the stores for all the ‘super great’ deals, but just meandering through the mall looking at all the decorations. I have tons of stuff I put up in my house each year, so it has to wait until the second week of December otherwise come Christmas I’m ready to take it all down! I’m kind of a freak that way. ; )

      That’s the best thing about starting a new household ~ you get to make whatever traditions you want! I’ve tried a few over the years and chucked them (toothbrushes in the stockings, really? Not sexy) and others I’ve stuck with (new holiday jammies for the family). It’s all about finding what you love.

    • Ahahahahahaha! That’s a good one!

      If you wife does make it, let me know what you think of it. Say, what traditions do they have down South? Any yummy recipes you want to share? I’m always looking for good comfort food.

      Thanks for coming by, Kerry!

  7. Ooh… Maybe you can leave THAT out for Santa! 😉 Love this post. I’m obsessed with Christmas, yet I’ve never had a bite of Christmas pudding. Suddenly feels like some sort of sin. Changing that—pronto.

    My family’s traditions have changed over the years as we’ve multiplied. But we always have Swedish cardamom bread—to DIE for—and wake up early on Christmas day for gifts… (My parents still won’t admit to filling our stockings.) Last year, my hubby and I started a new tradition of writing our own Christmas tunes. We hope to have a whole album in, oh, 12 years. 😉

    *sigh* Christmastime makes me happy.

    • That’s a terrific idea, August! I’m sure he’ll like it better than sugar cookies. Which, I actually do like to eat, just not roll, cut, bake, and decorate. Oh, and then clean up after.

      Mmmm, that cardamom bread sounds heavenly. Perhaps you should share the recipe??? And um, Santa fills the stockings, i thought everyone knew that!

      I love the Christmas tunes idea, but you have a beautiful voice and can pull it off. I would be pelted with stale popcorn ripped from the garlands.

      Christmastime makes me happy, too. I’m glad you stopped by to share your traditions!

  8. Thanks for the recipe! Having worked at Williams-Sonoma for five years and taking advantage of their very generous employee discount, I do own a pudding mold! But I’ve never used it. I love the idea of Christmas pudding. I might try a persimmon pudding with a lemon sauce this year even though tiramisu is a favorite Christmas dessert.

    Sticky rice makes an appearance every year on my holiday table. Although everyone has their favorite dish (and I feel compelled to make it), I try introducing something new every year.

    • Williams-Sonoma? I’d never make any money ~ every paycheck would go for new gadgets! That’s so cool you have a pudding basin, now you can make Christmas Pudding! Although, that persimmon pudding and tiramisu sound divine as well. Man, with your persimmons and August’s cardamom, I need to rethink Christmas dinner! We need a little more spice in our lives. Yum!

      Sticky rice? Huh, I would never have thought of sticky rice for Christmas dinner. That’s totally cool. Thanks for sharing it!

  9. I’ve never had a good recipe for Christmas pudding before. I’m excited to try it. I’m one of those weirdos that actually loves fruitcake, so if this is better, I’m sure it’s going to be a hit with me.

    My family is Slovakian so the traditional cookies around my house are honey cookies and nut rolls. (I can’t spell what my grandma calls them, so these are the anglicized names that my brother and I used growing up.) My favorite traditional Christmas treat though are these thin wafers that we smear with honey and eat after Christmas Eve dinner.

    • Make sure you soak the fruit the night before! I think I forgot to put that in the directions ~ I’ll have to fix that. And definitely make brandy butter. It’s so good.

      Whatever those honey cookies are, they sound delicious. I love anything honey and thin wafers with a smear? Oh, yes please!

      Thanks for stopping in to say hi and share your traditions!

  10. Our biggest Holiday traditions seem to revolve around food. For Christmas morning, I make homemade sticky pecan rolls, honey ham, potato casserole, and fruit. I’ve never had Christmas pudding, but we might have to try it this year!! Start a new tradition. Thanks for sharing!!

    • Beef Wellington!?! Wow….will you share the recipe? We have a Williams-Sonoma a few miles from our house, I may have to try the sticky toffee pudding. I already love to buy their jarred soups and Sprinkles cupcake mix.

      Sorry to hijack your blog comments, Tameri! 🙂

      • Blogjack all you like, Tiffany!

        I used a recipe from Allrecipes.com for the beef wellington. It was super yummy, but very labor intensive!

        Okay, sticky toffee pudding sounds like my kind of treat. I’ve never even had it, but I’ve read about it four times in the past month. What’s up with that? A sign from the food gods that I must try it? You know I love Williams-Sonoma, so any reason to visit their store is good with me!

        Sprinkles cupcakes… those are the best.

        Thanks for making me hungry, Tiffany and Julie! All of this just sounds so good. I’ve got some planning to do for Christmas morning!

  11. I love the story behind the pudding! I found myself “awing” out loud. Is that silly? I am going to save this recipe!

    We won’t be doing anything too fancy this year as we will be hooping onto the big Disney cruise ship! Yay! It will be something different for us. We have always had a traditional Christmas and New Year’s. This time we will run straight from the tree to hang with Mickey on the high sea for a week. Sure hope I don’t get sea sick.

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  13. Tameri, I’ve been making Christmas Pudding, or Plum pudding as we call it for many years in honor of my FIL who hadn’t had it since his mother passed away. I found a recipe I used the slow cooker for. And, I got the thumbs up approval from FIL. I didn’t know half the facts you present, that’s great. On the boat we use the pressure cooker to steam the pudding. I do use suet. I’ve substituted it in the past without the best results. Ask at the local meat counter in the grocery store a week in advance of needing it. When they trim the meat, they’ll package you up some. Really does make all the difference. Funny, the butcher really doens’t know what to charge you for it as there’s so little call.

    Another family tradition is Ferden, passed to me by my german grandmother.

    • I would love to try your recipe, Nancy! I didn’t know you could get suet from the butcher, but it makes sense. I’ll have to get some, then. I loved the pudding, but if it’s better with suet, I’m in!

      I never thought of the slow cooker, but that would totally work. Saves some time and having to stick around the house, too. Thanks for the great ideas!

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