The Ultimate English Christmas Pudding

READY IN: 9hrs 30mins
SERVES: 8-10




  • Lightly butter a 1.4-litre (21/2-pint) pudding basin.
  • Cut a small square of foil and press into the base of the basin.
  • Measure the sultanas, raisins, apricots and apple into a bowl with the orange juice.
  • Add the measured brandy or rum and leave to marinate for about one hour.
  • Put the measured butter, sugar and grated orange rind into a large bowl and cream together with a wooden spoon or a hand-held electric whisk until light and fluffy, gradually beat in the eggs, adding a little flour if the mixture starts to curdle.
  • Sift together the flour and mixed spice, then fold into the creamed mixture with the breadcrumbs and the nuts.
  • Add the dried fruits, apple and liquid and stir well.
  • Spoon into the prepared pudding basin, pressing the mixture down, and level the top with the back of a spoon.
  • Cover the pudding with a layer of greaseproof paper and foil, both pleated across the middle to allow for expansion.
  • Tie securely with string and trim off excess paper and foil with scissors***.
  • TO STEAM, put the pudding in the top of a steamer filled with simmering water, cover with a lid and steam for about eight hours, topping up the water as necessary.
  • TO BOIL, put a metal jam-jar lid into the base of a large pan to act as a trivet. Put the pudding on to this and pour in enough boiling water to come one-third of the way up the bowl. Cover with a lid, bring the water back to the boil, then simmer for about seven hours, until the pudding is a glorious deep brown colour, topping up the water as necessary.
  • Remove the pudding from the steamer or pan and cool completely.
  • Make holes in the pudding with a fine skewer and pour in a little more brandy or rum to feed.
  • Discard the paper and foil and replace with fresh. Store in a cool, dry place.
  • On Christmas Day, steam or boil the pudding for about an hour to reheat. Turn the pudding on to a serving plate.
  • To flame, warm 3-4 tablespoons brandy or rum in a small pan, pour it over the hot pudding and set light to it.
  • Serve with Rum Sauce or Brandy Butter.