Christmas 2008: Christmas Pudding

12/10/2008 08:25:00 PM

While my net was capped (and it's back again today, boo-yah!), I got busy in the kitchen preparing for Christmas. I am ridiculously excited about this year's Christmas, especially because this year the whole family will be together. I have ordered a turkey and a ham and a goose already (not all to be eaten in the one sitting, of course), and started my Christmas baking. First things first, the Christmas pudding.

I used the recipe from my beloved "The Roux Brothers on Patisserie" book, and I must admit I've been wanting to make it ever since I first got the book, but never seemed to get around to it. Of course, Christmas Pudding isn't traditional French Christmas fare, but the recipe came to the Roux brothers by way of Mrs Bradbrook, "a superb English cook". And the picture in the book of their flaming pudding just looks so inviting!

Making Christmas pudding isn't too hard, but it is a long and involved process. From my brief research, most recipes have their own different selection of fruits and nuts and alcohol, but have a pretty similar method. Nigella suggest Pedro Ximinez sherry, brandy seems to be more traditional. Whatever you do, don't do what my mum did 20 years ago and use half a bottle of Dad's expensive XO brandy for the pudding. Oops.

1. Collect all your 5 million ingredients (mainly dried fruits and nuts - the Roux Brothers' recipe doesn't instruct you to soak the fruits beforehand)
2. Get fresh suet from the butcher and chop it up into a zillion little pieces (fascinating and gross! Don't be alarmed, suet in cakes and pastry is gooood.)
3. Drop everything into a massive bowl
4. Stir.

Then you leave the mixture to sit in the fridge for a couple of days.

Once the mixture has had its resting time, you have to press it into "scrupulously clean" pudding basins, and covered tightly with greaseproof paper.

The recipe asks you to cover your pudding basin with muslin, but I also have a funky modern metal one with a lid. Pour hot water in the tin, cover it with foil, and bake for 8 (yes, EIGHT!) hours. Ta-dah. As you can see from the first picture in this post, one pudding turned out darker than the other - I'm guessing that the metal basin conducts heat better than the ceramic one.

Then you pour a little more brandy over the puddings, replace the circle of greaseproof paper, and cover again. For the muslin-covered pudding you're supposed to brush it with melted butter to form a more-or-less watertight seal.

How rustic!

I'm not sure how effective this seal is; I hope it keeps all the fridge smells out of my pudding! Anyway, the puddings are safely stashed in my fridge, one to be eaten on Christmas day, the other to be saved for another time, possibly next year. According to the recipe, the puddings get better the longer they age - up to 5 years!

I haven't decided what we'll have the with the puddings - brandy butter, eggnog cream, brandy custard???

More Christmas fun to come...!

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  1. The whole process is fascinating, and the eating will be very exciting! I resorted to buying my first ever pudding this year, but hope to make it next time. Did you really bake, and not steam, your puds? This sounds easier than watching the steam bath half a day long...

    am looking forward to more exciting Xmas instalments!

  2. Yeah, the recipe asks for you to bake, rather than steam. So that was good for me. Constantly watching a steaming pot would have been hard for me. I actually put the oven on in the morning and had my family check it every couple of hours to top up the water bath, hehe.

    xox Sarah

  3. Er actually I suspect that is steaming...that's why there's all the steam when you make it. And why we have to keep the steam in with the aluminium foil. Or have I misunderstood about baking? Maybe I know nothing about anything - but at least it tastes jolly good!

  4. Hi Philip,

    I think that when Julie asked if I didn't have to steam it, she was referring to steaming it on the stove, which is a lot more fiddly than the oven-steaming-bain-marie process.

    At any rate, I have to steam one of the puddings (on the stove) for 2 hours tonight... am SO looking forward to eating it!

    Merry Christmas!!!

    xox Sarah



My email address is sarahcooks [at] hotmail [dot] com.