Grandma’s Christmas Pudding

Grandma's Christmas Pudding

Okay, so here goes… I’ve never made a Christmas pudding before, quite frankly my Grandma makes the best puds in the stratosphere and the thought of a pressure cooker (and having to chisel pudding from my kitchen ceiling) fills me with dread!

But, I’m a brave baker, no pressure cooker here and six puds later (practise, practise, practise) here’s your guide to Grandma’s Christmas Pudding.

Traditionally Christmas Puddings and Cakes are made on Stir Up Sunday – the last Sunday before Advent.  That’s this Sunday 21st November.  Instead of being at home, stirring-up with the best of you I’m taking part in a panel of foodies manning the Sainsburys Baking Hotline!  For one day only you can call

with all your baking queries between 11am and 4pm  - you might even get through to me!  Other panel members include Dan Lepard, Kate and Liz from the Sainsburys Try Team, Lucy Chahil, Netmums Food Editor and Sarah Randall, Food Director at Sainsburys Magazine.
You can see more about the hotline and the panel members here.


130g currants
140g sultanas
130g raisins
50g ground almonds
2 tsp mixed cake spice
50g plain flour
pinch of salt
110g breadcrumbs (approx 3 slices blitzed in a food processor)
110g soft light brown sugar
110g suet
Zest of one lemon
2 tbsps treacle
2 eggs, large
2 tbsps brandy, rum or other liquor of your choice

Will make one large pudding in a basin with 1 litre capacity or you can split the mixture into smaller pudding basins as you wish.

Into a large bowl place the raisins, sultanas, currants, ground almonds, plain flour, cake spice and pinch of salt, mix well.

Add your breadcrumbs (easiest way to get these is to blitz approx 3 slices in a food processor), suet, brown sugar and lemon zest - give it another good stir up!

Make a small well in the centre, add your two eggs, the treacle and the brandy or rum if using.  Grandma uses rum.  If you would prefer it without the booze simply replace with the same quantity of milk.

Stir up until all the ingredients are fully combined, you should have a soft clinging mixture.  If your mixture appears to be too dry you can add a dash of milk to loosen.

Grease your pudding basin with butter.  Cut a small disc of baking paper to fit the bottom of the basin and pop it in.  Add the mixture to the pudding dish and press down the top with the back of a spoon to level.

Cut a square of baking paper larger than the top of the basin, fold a pleat in it (as in the picture) and lay it over the top of the pudding.

Add an additional two squares of foil on top the paper and tie securely with kitchen string.

You can also add a handle so it is easier to lift out when cooked.

Now for the steaming part – one large, 1litre pudding needs to steam for 8 hours, two medium 500ml puds for 6 hours each and tidgy puds, 400ml will need 4 hours.  To do this you have three choices (that’s completely discounting the pressure cooker option – I’m not even going to go there!)

1. Place the pud in a large saucepan, fill 2/3rds up the outside of the pudding basin with hot water and heat until the water boils.  Place the lid on the saucepan and allow to steam for the length of time indicated above.  You will need to keep topping up the water every now and then.  This option also turns your house into a handy sauna, guaranteed to please everyone when they come home from school and work and condensation is practically running down the walls.  (Well I did make six!)

2. You can steam them in a slow cooker if you have one.  Place the pud in the bowl of the slow cooker and fill around the pud with hot water, place the lid on, turn the slow cooker on to high and leave to cook.  You will need to add an additional two hours onto the baking time for each pud if using this method, however the water needs a lot less topping up, just once in fact and didn’t fill the house with steam.  Thanks to Lou, from Bake Off for this fabulous tip off!

3. Last option is to stand the puds in a large roasting tin, fill the in with water and place in the oven at 170C/Gas Mark 4 to steam, again it will need to be topped up with water now and then.
When the puddings are cooked remove from the water and allow to cool completely.

To remove them from the basins run a knife carefully around the pudding to loosen and tip out.

Wrap again in clean baking paper followed by a layer of foil.  Now allow to mature until Christmas in a cool dry place, a pantry or cupboard is ideal.

Now then when it’s Christmas you want a bit of flambe action going on with this here pud.  To flambe successfully you need to reheat the pud by steaming for a further hour.  Heat some brandy in a small saucepan gently and then set it alight in the pan.  Take a ladle full of brandy (a metal ladle obviously) and pour over the pud and serve.  I tried to get a photo of my flambe which was brilliantly impressive but I couldn’t capture it so you’ll have to take my word for it!

Grandma's Christmas Pudding

Grandma’s Christmas Pudding

Ruth Clemens, Baker Extraordinaire

Finalist on BBC2 The Great British Bake Off

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23 Responses to Grandma’s Christmas Pudding

  1. thehouseofjones says:

    Ooh I love the idea of a baking hotline! I presume you have to have a baking problem, rather than just phoning up for a chat about how much you like making cakes etc?!

    I had no idea Christmas cakes and puds were supposed to be made on a particular day, I like this fact! Although feel a little sad as I baked my Christmas cake yesterday. Will have to remember Stir Up Sunday for next year!

    PS your christmas pudding looks delish!
    PPS pressure cookers aren't scary! (having said that I have only made soup in mine!)

  2. Anonymous says:

    This sounds great! I've not made a Christmas Pud before but I'm going to give this a go.

    I've got complete faith in your recipes having watched you avidly on The Great British Bake Off! You were brilliant!

  3. mathw says:

    Wow, I need to try this now. I've flirted with the idea of making Christmas pudding for years, and now I find I can do it in my slow cooker! I just need to find basins that will fit in the slow cooker and give me a total of 1 litre of capacity. Hmm. That could be fun.

  4. pfj-at-openid says:

    When I was a boy, a long time ago, my grandma used to make the puddings for the whole family because she had a large "copper" in her back garden (the copper was used for "boil washing" the rest of the year).

    I especially remember two things aboout her Christmas Pudding marathon: steam, steam and more steam for days on end and her "two special ingredients" in the pudding.

    The one is probably obvious; the silver sixpence (any pre-1920 sixpence is silver). But the other is what she believed made the pudding moist and black; a bottle of Mackeson Milk Stout (which is much sweeter than Guinness).

    This year I'm going to try your recipe and see whether it's as good as my Grandma's.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Ruth, that looks fantastic! I am so happy with the instructions for steaming in a slow cooker. I only ever made a Xmas pud once before and the amount of gas I used (we have to use bottles as we're not on mains gas) was very expensive and put me off from ever doing it again. I am so making this one this year! I have also made your Xmas cake and every time I feed it with brandy I want to eat it! Just one question about the pud – when re-heating before serving how long should it be in the slow cooker for? Or would you suggest steaming it on the hob for that hour?
    Your recipes are so well-written and easy to follow- thank you!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hi Ruth! I am trying to make my first homemade pud this year. I love your recipe – it sounds delicious – but I have a practical query or two. How would you reheat it on Christmas Day? Would you steam it again? If so, for how long? Thank you!

  7. Jem says:

    It looks fantastic!!

    I'm really inspired to have a go and I'm not a fruit cake person!

    Jem xXx

  8. Ruth says:

    For reheating to serve one hour steaming on the hob, two hours in the slow cooker or a quick blast in the microwave till fully heated through should do the trick! xx

  9. Tracey says:

    Watched the GBBake Off final recently…Congratulations for doing so well. I´ve never made Xmas pud or Xmas cake before so this yr had a go at making my first Xmas cake. Maybe next year will have a go at Xmas pudding!I got a bit ahead of myself though and actually made it last week! x

  10. Victoria says:

    you are BRAVE! a proper christmas pudding seems to be one of those traditions that has trailed off…congrats on your success (ALL 6 OF THEM!)!! I've recently tried my hand at one of my family holiday baking traditions…and was pretty pleased with the results….seems like the time of year to practise in time for the big day! :)

  11. Anonymous says:

    Hi, I have a quick question! I bought an enamel pudding bowl today from Lakeland – is it OK to use that for a christmas pudding, or does it need to be a ceramic style bowl?

    Also when you re-heat the pudding, do you need to put it back in to the pudding bowl to re-heat it?


  12. Arline says:

    It looks fab Ruth! Watched you on Great British Bake Off and that is how I found your blog! Some fab recipes on here…might have to pop this on my 'to do' list! Well done for getting to the final!x

  13. Knattyknitter says:

    Made puds today using the slow cooker method. What a great idea… steam!They look and smell great! Keep up the good work!

  14. The Hebe Bee says:

    I love the idea of using the slow cooker for the pud! For the initial cooking it can be left to its own devices for longer periods of time and on Christmas Day when both the hob and microwave seem to be on overdrive, it is one appliance that is sitting unused. Thanks for passing that tip on.

  15. Ruth says:

    An enamel bowl will be fine, pop it back in the bowl to reheat xx

  16. dawnmattreed says:

    Hi Ruth I made my first Christmas pudding using the slow cooker method. Got my timings a bit wrong and had to get up at 1.15 am to finish cooking! He he but i've just wrapped it up and it is brilliant. I'm so please . Thank you so much for your inspiration and knowledge xxx
    DAwn from West Kirby

  17. Helen Electric Pressure Cooker Lady says:

    My children loves puddings. I'll try to make it in my home.

  18. Naomi says:

    Thanks sooo much for the recipe. I live in Germany now and they don't have x-mas pudding here, so I'm really excited as to what my friends will think about it!!

  19. Anonymous says:

    How much water do I need in the slow cooker?

    Really excited about trying this recipe :o)

  20. Miss Wings says:

    Made this today and steamed in the slow cooker, for 9hrs, worked a treat, only problem I had was at the end, took it out, unwraped it and the smell filled the kitchen and it didn't even have time to cool, before the custard was made and it had been eaten. Now I've got to be strong and make another one for the big day, go on girls have ago, see if you can resist!!! lol

  21. Sue says:

    Great British Bakeoff: It was inspiring watching you work, Ruth. Although I missed Stir-up Sunday, I'm not going to miss out on the chance to make this pud. Being an expat I've been making my own for years but really look forward to trying this "new" recipe. Your clear, concise instructions and lots of pictures is just what I need. Wonderful site.

  22. sarah says:

    Did anyone make this christmas pudding and was it nice? i had already made Delia's Christmas Pudding before I saw this recipe so I didnt get to try it this year. I made Ruth's Christmas cake and it tasted amazing.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I have a most of a christmas cake left over (the family had colds and didn't feel up to eating much and it doesn't appeal once Christmas is over) and I wondered if, with the additions of a couple of ingredients, I could turn it into a christmas pudding for next year? Any help would be appreciated.

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