Expert guide to the secret to the perfect Christmas pudding recipe (2024)

By Alison Tyler for MailOnline

View comments

It's Stir-up Sunday tomorrow, the traditional pud-making day, so we called in an expert.

The secret to a perfect pudding is all in the fruit, explains Paul Gray, who is master cake-maker at Bettys, the famous bakery and tea shop in Harrogate, Yorkshire.

'Don't use dried sultanas you've found at the back of the cupboard,' he says. 'Buy the freshest and best quality fruit you can afford.'

Expert guide to the secret to the perfect Christmas pudding recipe (1)

Proof is in the pudding: The secret to a vibrant Christmas pudding is adding the freshest, best-quality dried fruit

He should know - he's made millions of cakes during his 20 years at Bettys.
Today, I'm at their equally famous cookery school making my own Christmas pudding, along with other festive treats.

We start the pudding at 10am - although the kitchen fairies have soaked the fruit in brandy overnight for us. Along the way we learn many tips, such as always juicing and zesting fruit that is at room temperature - this give you double the amount.

Likewise, eggs should always be room temperature to prevent curdling (it's the change in temperature that causes it).


  • Previous
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • Next
  • Recipes: Keep the kids sweet at Christmas with these festive cakes and cookies Christmas recipes: White chocolate, orange and cranberry cookies
  • Christmas recipes: Gingerbread snowflake biscuits Christmas recipes: Festive fairy cakes
  • Christmas recipes: Tutti frutti truffles

Share this article


The day is a revelation, accompanied by friendly banter, good company and delicious treats for snacking - plus, you get to take home all your Christmas cooking.

After five hours of steaming, the pudding is ready to cool and then be put away for at least four weeks (longer if possible) to mature before the big lunch.

Christmas pudding perfected in just one day - what could be easier? Well, cheating and buying a Bettys pudding (, tel: 0845 345636), if you really must ask.

Makes 1 pudding, serves 6-8 people


  • 230g (8oz) raisins
  • 50g (1 1/4oz) currants
  • 75g (2 1/2oz) sultanas
  • 50g (1 3/4oz) glace cherries
  • 15g (1/2oz) flaked almonds
  • 100ml (3 1/2fl oz) brandy
  • Zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 orange and 1/2 lemon
  • 50g (1 3/4oz) vegetable suet
  • 30g (1oz) wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • 50g (1 3/4oz) plain white flour
  • 90g (3oz) light brown sugar
  • 2g (1/2tsp) mixed spice
  • 1g (1/4tsp) each of ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, ground cloves
  • 5g (1tsp) salt
  • 2 medium eggs, beaten


  1. The day before, place all the dried fruits and flaked almonds in a bowl. Pour over the brandy and add the lemon and orange zest and juice. Mix together lightly. Cover with clingfilm and leave overnight.
  2. Put all the remaining ingredients and the pre-soaked fruit in a large mixing bowl. Mix lightly with a wooden spoon, so as not to break up the fruit. Place a small disc of baking parchment in the base of a 1 1/2pt pudding basin and then fill it with the mixture. Smooth the top down evenly. Place another, larger disc of parchment on top. Cover the basin with foil and seal tightly.
  3. Stand the filled pudding basin on a strip of foil long enough to make a handle (to help you lift the pudding out of the pan once it is steamed). Place the basin on top of a trivet in a deep-sided pan. Pour hot water into the pan, so it comes halfway up the pudding basin. Place a lid on the pan and bring back to the boil. Lower the heat and keep the water at a steady simmer. Steam the pudding for 5 hours. Check the level of water in the saucepan during cooking and top up if necessary.
  4. Remove the pudding from the pan and allow it to cool completely. Remove the foil. Wrap the pudding basin in a piece of greaseproof and a layer of foil. Store in a cool, dark place for at least 1 month to mature. The longer the better.
  5. On Christmas Day, steam the pud for 2 hours in a pan of water, as before. Warm some brandy in a ladle until it ignites and pour over the pudding to flambe.
  • The one-day Christmas cakes and pudding course costs £160,

Most watched News videos

  • Youths destroy garden wall after 'stealing car' and crashing into it
  • Newsnight follow family's journey from war-torn Syria to Newcastle
  • Sex Pistol John Lydon blames immigration for 'division' in the UK
  • Footage shows baby born at NHS hospital before tragically died
  • Police arrest man carrying 'Hamas are terrorists' sign at protest
  • Man killed in horror crash alongside his girlfriend
  • Terrifying moment Russian gas pipeline EXPLODES in huge fireball
  • Meg Harbour shows off accused Patrick Stephenson in highlight reel
  • Biden on hot mic warns Netanyahu he'll need a 'come to Jesus' meeting
  • Moment man takes a swing at 'pickpocket' who 'stole his wallet'
  • Donald Trump mocks Biden's stutter during speech at Georgia rally
  • Mike Johnson seen repeatedly shaking his head during Biden speech

{"status":"error","code":"499","payload":"Asset id not found: readcomments comments with assetId=1229274, assetTypeId=1"}

Expert guide to the secret to the perfect Christmas pudding recipe (2024)


What is normally hidden in a Christmas pudding? ›

It was common practice to include small silver coins in the pudding mixture, which could be kept by the person whose serving included them. The usual choice was a silver threepence or a sixpence.

Why did my Christmas pudding go Mouldy? ›

The pudding should be stored in a cool, dark and dry place. If the pudding is in a warm and humid environment (such as a steamy kitchen) then there is a risk that some mould will develop on the pudding. If you live in a warm or humid climate then it may be better to store the pudding in the fridge or to freeze it.

Why is my Christmas pudding not dark? ›

After the first 5 hours of steaming the puddings may not look that dark but do not worry as the colour deepens on the second steaming.

Which way do you stir a Christmas pudding mixture for good luck? ›

By tradition the pudding mixture is stirred from East to West in honor of the three wise men who visited the baby Jesus. In some households, silver coins are added to the pudding mix. It is believed that finding a coin brings good luck.

Why do you put breadcrumbs in Christmas pudding? ›

The essentials for the best puddings

Use a mixture of flour and breadcrumbs, not just flour. Though in older times the choice was more to do with economy, breadcrumbs give the pudding a much lighter texture. And again, use just enough flour to hold the mixture gently together.

What is the old name for Christmas pudding? ›

Christmas Pudding (also known as plum pudding or figgy pudding) is a dish as famous as it is misunderstood. In America, Christmas Pudding (also known as plum pudding or figgy pudding) is a dish as famous as it is misunderstood.

Can you eat a 5 year old Christmas pudding? ›

Some Christmas puddings, made with dried fruit in the traditional way, are fine to be eaten as much as two years after they were made. "Bear in mind if the pudding is alcohol-free, of course, it will last a good while with the sugar content, but it will not last as long without alcohol to preserve it," stresses Juliet.

How many years does a Christmas pudding last? ›

So, as long as it's unopened, your pudding will keep for two years after the production date, which you'll find on the outside packaging.

Why shouldn't you reheat Christmas pudding? ›

Steaming is the best way to re-heat a homemade pudding and the only way we recommend re-heating Delia's Christmas pudding. Microwaved puddings are frequently ruined. They tend to overheat and get tough & sticky.

What nut is hidden in Christmas rice pudding? ›

In Sweden, Finland, and Norway

Typically it is made of chilled leftover rice pudding, whipped cream, sugar and vanilla, with or without almonds. By tradition, the person finding a hidden almond in the dessert is expected to get married before the next Christmas.

Is Christmas pudding the same as fruitcake? ›

You're forgiven if you think Christmas Pudding is the round English version of an American fruitcake. While it has similarities, they are altogether different. Both improve with age and include dried fruits, chopped nuts, hearty spices, and steep in a cold dark spot for weeks, but that is where the similarities end.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Arielle Torp

Last Updated:

Views: 6332

Rating: 4 / 5 (41 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Arielle Torp

Birthday: 1997-09-20

Address: 87313 Erdman Vista, North Dustinborough, WA 37563

Phone: +97216742823598

Job: Central Technology Officer

Hobby: Taekwondo, Macrame, Foreign language learning, Kite flying, Cooking, Skiing, Computer programming

Introduction: My name is Arielle Torp, I am a comfortable, kind, zealous, lovely, jolly, colorful, adventurous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.