There is nothing like a traditional boiled Christmas pudding adorned with a brandy flame to make Christmas feel extra special. This is a treasured recipe.
For over thirty years our family has used the same pudding recipe. The sweet fragrance of batches of puddings boiling on the stove would fill our house from late November as my mum would prepare to gift them to family, friends or to a School Raffle. I took on the responsibility of making the puddings when I was about twelve. I hope one day to pass it onto my own children.
For the sake of sentimentalism, I have kept the measurements in pounds and ounces as my mum originally scribbled them down but I’ve included standard measurements in brackets.
Oh, and if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere and have a hot summer perhaps you’d like to give the Ice cream pudding recipe a go.
Traditional Boiled Christmas Pudding
Makes 1 large pudding serving 20+ people, or 2 small puddings each serving 10-12 people. The mixture is easily doubled if you have a few family gatherings or want to give some small puddings as gifts. I’ve even made four out of a batch for mini puddings to serve 4-6. It’s delicious for left overs the few days after Christmas. You’ll go back for small cold slivers cut from the fridge again and again.
You can make this pudding months in advance, even up to a year. However I’ve been known to leave it as late as the week before. So the maturing part is not essential.
- 6oz Butter (170g)
- 4oz brown sugar (115g)
- 2 eggs
- 4oz breadcrumbs packet breadcrumbs or freshly processed (115g)
- half pound raisins (225g)
- half pound of sultanas (225g)
- 4oz chopped dates or chopped dried apricots (115g)
- 4oz mixed peel or glacè cherries cut into quarters (115g)
- 2oz currents (55g)
- 1/4 cup brandy (or orange juice if preferred)
- 1/4 tsp bicarb soda
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 4 oz of plain flour (115g)
- Extra 4oz plain flour (115g)
- Extra 4oz caster sugar (115g)
- Calico (material) to wrap, boil and hang puddings in
Note: Every year different dried fruits and even nuts are included in our pudding mix. It’s a good opportunity to empty the cupboard of any dried fruit that is lurking in there. As long as the total amount of dried fruit comes to 735g you can’t go wrong. A handful of slices almonds is nice for texture.
- Cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy.
- Add eggs and beat until well incorporated.
- Stir in breadcrumbs, mixed spice, nutmeg, brandy and bi carb soda.
- Add dried fruits and flour and stir.
- Divide pudding mix up into portions (1 large, 2 small, or 4 mini puddings) and roll into balls.
Wrapping, cooking and maturing a Traditional boiled Christmas pudding
The flour and sugar mix forms a coating around the pudding which becomes the pudding skin giving it a smooth white exterior to look at, and a little break taste wise from the sweet fruits.
- Cut calico into squares to fit puddings
- Divide pudding mix up to make the desired number of puddings (2-4 works best)
- Mix plain flour and caster sugar together and make a small mound in the centre of a square of calico
- Place pudding on top of flour/sugar mix then add more flour/sugar mix to the top and sides*
- Take the sides of the calico and tie securely in a bundle with string.
- Cook in a pot of simmering water for 2hrs (quarter mix puddings) or 3hrs (half mix puddings). Ensure puddings don’t touch the bottom and burn by suspending them on the side with string.
- Once cooked, take out of the water and hang up in a cool dry place. In more humid climates puddings can be kept in the fridge to mature. Maturing time can be anywhere from two weeks to a year.
*The flour mix will fall off but it’s fine. The most important part is the bottom as it becomes the top after cooking.
How to cook Traditional Boiled Christmas Pudding on the day
- On the day of serving the pudding suspend the pudding in a pot of simmering water and cook for 1.5-2 hours.
- Unwrap from the cloth and if desired add a generous splash of brandy over the top and light carefully with a match.
- The pudding will arrive at the table with a soft blue flame which will delight and surprise family and friends.
- Serve with your choice of ice cream, cream, custard or rum butter.
*Photos showing how to put puddings in cloth are below.
From our family to yours Merry Christmas and a blessed new year,
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