A job for a rainy weekend – Christmas pudding

Christmas pudding Elizabeth stirringChristmas pudding mix

I know, I know it’s only October – I too hate the fact that supermarkets have their Christmas aisles out as soon as the children have gone back to school in September. I really try to avoid thinking about Christmas until at least November, but this weekend it was so rainy and cold that it seemed like a good idea to get on with making the Christmas pudding which involves being house/stove bound for a whole day.

It’s meant to be a fun family activity (at least that’s what my ‘Homemaker’ magazine tells me) and it is in a way, but stirring up with two small children is not what I would call stress free. Firstly, they want to eat all the ingredients (raisins and sultanas being a favourite of almost all children), and secondly the mixture is very stiff even for an adult to stir. Eddie sent several spoonfuls flying across the kitchen with the effort making a right old mess.

This recipe comes from the safe and reliable Delia. This is the fifth Christmas that I’ve made my own and to be honest I’m never entirely sure whether it really is worth the hassle – you have to steam the puddings for 8 hours!!! But I do think that home made tastes better and I have managed to turn previous Christmas pudding haters with this recipe.

And if you look at the economics it does work out a bit cheaper too. The ingredients for this recipe total around £11 (based on my Tesco shop). If you buy the equivalent weight in Tesco finest puddings you are looking at £4 a pudding which means a saving of £5 (however this doesn’t include the cost of having the hob and fan on for a whole day).

They call the day you make your Christmas pudding ‘stir up Sunday’, but with this recipe you leave the mixture overnight before steaming so it’s best to do the stirring on the Saturday and steam on the Sunday.

Delia’s Christmas pudding

Makes 2 x 2 pint puddings (which serve 6-8) or 4 x 1 pint puddings (which serve 4)
I make 1 x 2 pint pudding for our family Christmas dinner and two smaller 1 pint ones to give away.

Dry ingredients

  • 225g shredded suet
  • 110g self-raising flour
  • 225g white breadcrumbs
  • 450g soft brown sugar
  • 1 heaped teaspoon mixed spice
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 225g sultanas
  • 225g raisins
  • 560g currants
  • 50g blanched, chopped almonds
  • 50g mixed peel
  • The grated rind of 1 orange and 1 lemon
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped finely

Wet ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 300ml stout (Delia uses 150ml stout, and 150ml barley wine but barley wine is quite difficult to get hold of so I just use more stout instead)
  • 4 tablespoons rum

If you are making the whole amount above it is best to use two large mixing bowls, measuring half the ingredients into each, otherwise it is really difficult to mix up.

Basically you add all the dry ingredients to the bowl in the order above mixing thoroughly before adding the next.

Then in a different bowl beat the wet ingredients. Firstly the eggs, then mix in the rum and stout. Empty this over the dry ingredients and stir very hard indeed until the mixture forms a dropping consistency. You may need a little more stout.

After mixing, cover the bowl with cling film and leave to rest overnight.

The next morning divide the mixture into pudding basins greased with a little butter and pack the mixture into them. Cover each basin with a square of greaseproof paper (with a fold in the middle to allow for expansion) and a square of pudding cloth on top*. You can attach these to the rims with string, or I use a thick elastic band. You may also want to make a handle with the string so that you can lift the hot puddings out easily once they are done.

Steam the puddings for 8 hours. I don’t have a steamer so I place the bowls on a scrunched up ball of tin foil in a pan with about 2 inches of boiling water and a lid. You need to keep an eye on the proceedings and top up with more boiling water periodically so that they don’t boil dry.

After 8 hours leave the puddings to cool. Replace the greaseproof paper and pudding cloth with fresh and store in a cool place until Christmas.

On Christmas day you will need to steam the pudding for around 2 hours before serving.

*You can buy pudding cloths or muslin squares from Lakeland but they are rather expensive (£5.39 for 10). I use old muslin cloths which I had when the children were babies (well washed of course) which I rip up into squares. I wash and reuse these from year to year.

This is just to show the fold in the greaseproof paper which allows the pudding to expand.

This is just to show the fold in the greaseproof paper which allows the pudding to expand.

Three puddings ready for steaming.

Three puddings ready for steaming.

Christmas pudding Eddie stirring

Trying to be helpful.


If you want to make a smaller quantity below are the calculations.

For 4 small puddings, or 2 small and 2 large, or 1 large and 3 small For 3 small puddings, or 1 large and one small For 2 small puddings or one large For 1 small pudding
Shredded suet 225g 168.75g 112.5g 56.25g
Self-raising flour 110g 82.5g 55g 27.5g
Breadcrumbs 225g 168.75g 112.5g 56.25g
Soft brown sugar 450g 337.5g 225g 112.5g
Mixed spice 1 tsp ¾ tsp ½ tsp ¼ tsp
Nutmeg ½ tsp 3/8 tsp ¼ tsp 1/8 tsp
Cinnamon ¼ tsp somewhere between 1/4 & 1/8 1/8 tsp my brain hurts
Sultanas 225g 168.75g 112.5g 56.25g
Raisins 225g 168.75g 112.5g 56.25g
Currants 560g 420g 280g 140g
Almonds 50g 37.5g 25g 12.5g
Mixed peel 50g 37.5g 25g 12.5g
Orange rind 1 ¾ ½ ¼
Lemon rind 1 ¾ ½ ¼
Apple 1 ¾ ½ ¼
Stout 300ml 225ml 150ml 75ml
Rum 4 tbsp 3 tbsp 2 tbsp 1 tbsp
Eggs 4 3 2 1
Christmas pudding 2015

The difference two years makes. Elizabeth making Christmas pudding 2015.


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