Christmas Pudding – a recipe to make your own

Flaming the Christmas Pudding

Flaming the Christmas Pudding

I imagine my husband’s Great Grandfather, James Stewart,  as quite a character. He ran a granite business in Aberdeen. He went off to the Paris International Exhibition in 1900 which was held just below the Eiffel tower and where they won a silver medal for a monument made of pink Scottish granite. We have a record of him speaking at “The Thick Skin Club”Annual Dinner in Aberdeen. (I’d love to know more about that club!) He also must have dabbled in the kitchen, as I have his recipe for Christmas pudding that I make each year.

As with my recipes for Christmas Cake and Mincemeat, it has evolved a little, chiefly as I’ve moved around the country and to cater for a family member who avoids wheat. It takes a little effort, but I assure you this will be one of the best puddings you’ve ever tasted. Make it as far in advance as possible and ti will keep very well indeed.

I have two pressure cookers. Until recently I had 3. Yes, I know that sounds ridiculous. But I would buy a pressure cooker for cooking Christmas puddings alone, it cuts the cooking time down to something manageable. Look out for one in a charity shop. The domed ones are marvellous as you can cook two puddings at once.You can of course use the old fashioned steaming method too.

Stages of making the Christmas Cake

From left: Soaking the fruit; adding the dry ingredients, filling the bowls

You’ll need Pyrex bowls (mine are 1litre capacity), greaseproof paper or baking parchment and aluminium foil. One of the things that I’ve changed, is to soak the fruit in the alcohol for at least a day it makes the mixture so much more moist. The original recipe calls for barley wine (which is more like a beer). Recently, I’ve been experimenting with different beers, and think that Harviestoun Old Engine Oil porter suits it very well. I’d look for a dark beer from your locality, make this recipe your own! If you have trouble locating any of the other ingredients, you can buy online from Real Foods (if you’re in the UK).

Great Grandfather James' Christmas Pudding
Preparation time
Cooking time
Total time
Plan ahead. It makes all the difference if you soak the fruit in advance. This recipe makes 2 large puddings. You'll need to reheat when you use it. Steam for ½ hour in a pressure cooker or 1 hour in a saucepan.
Recipe type: Christmas
Cuisine: British
Serves: 8
  • 225 grams raisins
  • 225 grams currants
  • 225 grams sultanas
  • 225 grams mixed peel
  • 100 grams glacé cherries (try and find those without artificial colour, or use dried cherries)
  • 125 grams suet (vegetarian or beef)
  • 100 grams flour (plain wheat or gluten free)
  • 125 gr breadcrumbs (wheat or gluten free bread) OR 5 oz ground almonds
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • ½ grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 110gr of dark brown or demerara sugar
  • 150 ml beer/porter/barley wine
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ standard wine glass of brandy.
  1. In a large bowl, add all the dried fruits, the spices and the beer and brandy. Leave overnight to plump up.
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients except the eggs into the bowl and mix carefully to the fruit is well mixed with the dry ingredients.
  3. Add the eggs and mix well again.
  4. Pack the mixture into your bowls to within 1 centimetre of the rim.
  5. Adding the greaseproof paper and foil to the bowls
  6. Adding the greaseproof paper and foil to the bowls
  7. Cut a strip of greaseproof paper or baking parchment about twice as wide and twice as long as your bowl.
  8. Fold the paper to make a pleat about two centimetres wide. Place on the bowl and scrunch round under the rim of the bowl. (You can tie it with string if you prefer).
  9. Cut the aluminium foil to a similar size to the greaseproof paper. Fold it and place it on top of the bowl. Again scrunch round under the rim.
  10. Check the instructions for your particular pressure cooker. This is how I cook mine. Put a trivet in the bottom of your pressure cooker. That's the plate with the holes that it came with. Place the pudding on top and fill with hot water to just under the brim. Add a slice of lemon to the water to avoid discolouring the pan.
  11. Bring to the boil slowly over about 15 minute without the weight. Add the weight and bring to pressure.
  12. Turn the gas down so that some steam escapes, but it's not on full blast.
  13. Cook for 2½ hours. You might want to check that there's enough water half way through. Repeat with the second pudding
  14. The pudding will be very dark, moist and delicious.
  15. Cover with fresh parchment and foil and store until Christmas.
  16. Follow the instructions in your pressure cooker manual for reheating puddings. I do mine for ½ hour. Otherwise, you can place in a simmering saucepan of water to reheat that way.


Adding the greaseproof paper and foil to the bowls

Adding the greaseproof paper and foil to the bowls

The Christmas pudding after cooking

The Christmas pudding after cooking

I discovered some rare footage of the Paris International Exhibition. I love to think that Great Grandfather James could be one of the crowd pictured!

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About Bread Baker Danielle

Danielle founded Edinburgh Foody in 2010. Having qualified as a professional bread baker in France in 2014, she is now on a new adventure in Gloucestershire. Check out Look out for occasional posts for Edinburgh Foody


  1. My grandmother (Scottish heritage) made the Christmas puddings for the entire extended family. She also ran a small catering business from her home and cooked for wealthy families – one had her cook for them Christmas Day, giving their own cook the day off, so she was rarely in her own home for Christmas Day. But we did have New Years with her. Her Christmas pudding recipe was very clear – take all the fruit and lay it on a tea towel. Then sprinkle it with flour and “dry clean it” in the towel by gently rubbing it. Discard the excess flour. And no other flour went into the puddings – only breadcrumbs. The dried fruits are no longer sticky. This was when people bought the dried fruits in bulk at various mom and pop grocery stores soo perhaps it was a little different from the pre-packaged fruit we are used to today. I was so fortunate to be able to make the puddings and the cakes with her in the last couple of years of her life. I can now carry on the traditions. Her recipes were from her grandmother and how much further they go back I don’t know.

  2. Pingback: Our Top 12 Christmas foods | Edinburgh Foody

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