English Christmas Pudding – Recipe Update

Two years ago I posted a recipe I found online for the traditional English Christmas pudding that takes center stage at the Cratchet family holiday dinner in the classic tale “A Christmas Carol”.

I’ve now made it several times (my Daughter says it’s her favorite part of Christmas – I’m thinking she means the non-gift part) and as I tend to do with most recipes, I’ve altered it over that course in both ingredients and procedure.

Some changes are simply due to ingredient available and my tastes, while others are simply due to modern conveniences and my laziness.

Also, having pulled that post up to follow the recipe, I realized I didn’t do a very good job in organizing it in a manner that lays it out well for someone who wants to read it off the computer – like me, because printers hate me. Really.

So, with that said, here is my updated recipe for my traditional English Christmas pudding. I know what you’re thinking, “Ah Dog, Christmas is like 363 days away. You trippin’?” No, I’m not tripping!! I want to post this now while it’s fresh in my mind and besides, stop being a slave to your Wacky Weeds Farm calendar (Yeah dude, I see it right there over your shoulder). This pudding is delicious any time of the year.

The Notes:

The recipe and procedure are pretty easy. If you’re even a moderate kitchen troll you should be able to pull this off. I’ve broken the recipe down into sections with the ingredients listed twice, once in an organized shopping list, and then in the actual procedure as they come into play.

The pudding can be done in one day or over several days. I recommend letting the fruit soak overnight, but in a pinch several hours will do. The pudding can be assembled and cooked the next day, or if desired assembled and kept in the fridge for a few days to be cooked later – but don’t forget that it contains raw eggs, so use your judgement.

Traditionally the mixed spice is an English mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. You can substitute pumpkin spice if you wish, or just make your own with whatever strikes your fancy (I love a touch of ginger).

On the day you wish to cook, scroll down to the SAUNA section to see how to set up your bain-maries (fancy French word alert!). In order to get the water level correct you should do this before you start to cook your puddings.

The Shopping List, In My Acme Layout Order (L to R) (Patent Pending):

1 orange (juice and zest)
3 baby carrots (cut into thin strips and then chopped)

5.3oz (150g) chopped dates
5.3oz (150g) chopped prunes
5.3oz (150g) raisins
5.3oz (150g) chopped apricots
5.3oz (150g) chopped cranberries

2.6oz (75g) chopped toasted pecans
1.8oz (50g) blanched almonds, flaked (slivered almonds work)
1.8oz (50g) chopped walnuts

4 slices crustless white bread (crumbed or chopped fine)

1tbsp mixed spice
6.2oz (175g) dark muscovado sugar (you can usually find this in specialty food stores. Use dark brown sugar in a pinch)
2.6oz (75g) self-rising flour (you can find self-rising flour in any supermarket)

3 eggs (beaten, or not. See below)
6.2oz (175g) warm butter (easier to work with when warm)

The Fun Shopping List:

3.4oz (100ml) Guinness (a four pack of cans works best)
3.4oz (100ml) Grand Marnier, or Drillaud.

The Hardware:

some string
two pudding basins (use what you can find that will work. Circular is best, but mine aren’t)
two large pans with lids (to make bain-maries)


The Night Before, The Soak:

3 baby carrots (cut into thin strips and then chopped)
5.3oz (150g) chopped dried dates
5.3oz (150g) chopped dried prunes
5.3oz (150g) raisins
5.3oz (150g) chopped dried apricots
5.3oz (150g) chopped cranberries
Juice from one orange
3.4oz (100ml) Guinness (a four pack of cans works best)
3.4oz (100ml) Grand Marnier

First, drink two of the cans of Guinness to insure freshness. If the Grand Marnier has been sitting around for a while or looks suspicious, then taste test some of that as well.

Don’t bother with that “chopped” nonsense if you’re able. Simply stick all the fruit and the carrots in your food processor and pulse until it’s well chopped and mixed. I though the dried fruit might be a little too rubbery to chop in the processor, but my processor had no problem.

Empty the chopped fruit into a bowl and add the OJ, Guinness and Grand Marnier and stir until very well to combine. Let the mixture sit for at least one hour. Longer is better. Overnight is killer.


The Next Day, The Prep: This All Happens in a Single Large Bowl

The zest of 1 orange
6.2oz (175g) dark muscovado sugar (you can usually find this in specialty food stores. Use dark brown sugar in a pinch)
6.2oz (175g) warm butter (easier to work with when warm)

In a large bowl, combine the orange zest, sugar, and butter. Mix well to combine.


3 eggs (beaten, or not. See below)

Either beat three eggs with the technique of your choice and add them to the bowl, or just add three eggs to the bowl and beat the whole mixture until it’s smooth like Barry White.


2.6oz (75g) self-rising flour
1tbsp mixed spice
4 slices crustless white bread (crumbed or chopped fine)
1.8oz (50g) blanched almonds, flaked (slivered almonds work)
2.6oz (75g) chopped toasted pecans
1.8oz (50g) chopped walnuts

Sift the flour and mixed spice into the bowl. If you don’t have a flour sifter, then mix them together the best you can with whatever you have available. Add the bread crumbs and nuts (again, forgo the hand chopping and use a food processor if you have one). Stir until they behave.

Add the fruit from the night before into the bowl and mix together.


Split the mixture into two well greased pudding basins. Cover with foil and use the string to tie them securely. This year I didn’t have string, so I used cable ties…don’t judge…


The Sauna:

Set up the bain-maries by putting each of your pudding basins into each of the large pans (or if you have a pan big enough, both into one). Fill the pans with water until the level of the water reaches about 3/4 of the way up the basin. Remove the basins.

Bring the water in the bain-maries to a strong simmer. The water should put off a lot of steam, but it shouldn’t be a rolling boil. Once the water is to temperature, lower one of the filled pudding basins into each bain-maries and cover.

The Cook:

Let the puddings steam for 6 hours, checking the water level in the bain-maries often, and adding more water if needed to keep the level constant – I’ve never had to.


Once done, carefully remove the basins. The puddings can be immediately turned out and served, or left to cool in the basins and refrigerated for later.

To serve, turn out onto a platter, pour the brandy on top of the pudding (I poke a small dent in the middle of the top of pudding to create a well) and light (My lawyers instruct me that I must tell you to be careful with this step. We are not responsible for tabletops, eyebrows or long-haired pets). Owww and Ahhh until the flame goes out. Slice and serve. If serving hot I suggest serving with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and a snifter of something good, like scotch or hey, brandy.

PHOTO CREDIT: Simon Pearson's Flickr
PHOTO CREDIT: Simon Pearson’s Flickr account

Now go make merry like the Cratchets!

Author: Ed (The Dogs of Beer)

Beer Blog focused on Delaware & surrounding area. Drinker of beer. Writer of stuff. Over user of commas. Dangler of prepositions.

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