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Address:   Cork, ireland

Clara Cooks

Christmas Pudding

There’s something so special about lighting the Christmas pudding at the table and serving up this delicious dessert that has been pre-made with love many weeks before.


Serves: 8-10

  • 150 grams currants
  • 150 grams sultanas
  • 150 grams roughly chopped candied fruit, not everyone likes candied peel or can get their hands on it so if you don’t want to use candied peel replace with dried apricot and cranberries and chop very finely  
  • 175 millilitres of alcohol, you can use whatever suits you best, brandy, whiskey, rum or sherry. I like brandy best and always get a good cognac, don’t go cheap on the alcohol for this one!
  • 100 grams plain flour
  • 125 grams fresh breadcrumbs
  • 150 grams suet (shredded) You can get this from your local butchers.
  • 150 grams dark brown muscovado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 medium cooking apple (peeled and grated)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 50ml alcohol (whatever you used in the pudding for flaming on the day)


  1. You will need a 1.7 litre/3 pint/1½ quart heatproof plastic pudding basin with a lid, and also a sprig of holly to decorate
  2. A large saucepan, your pudding bowl needs to fit into this
  3. A ramekin (not essential but if you have one then use it)
  4. Twine/string
  5. Parchment/greaseproof  paper
  6. Tinfoil
  7. Bowl for stirring
  8. Wooden Spoon
  9. Spatula


Pre Prep

  1. Put the currants, sultanas and candied fruit into a bowl with the alcohol (non-metal), swill the bowl a bit, then cover with clingfilm and leave to steep overnight or for up to 1 week. I do mine for about 5 days! 
  2. For the cooking day, have all your ingredients and equipment weighted out.

On the day

  1. On the cooking day when the fruits have had their steeping time, put the ramekin into the bottom of the large saucepan.
  2. Butter your heatproof plastic pudding basin (or basins), remembering to grease the lid, too.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the remaining pudding ingredients (except the alcohol at the end, that’s for the day of serving for flaming!), There’s an old traditional myth that you stir clockwise and make a wish, all the family usually have a go! This is a very old either in the traditional manner or just any old how; your chosen method of stirring, and who does it
  4. Add the steeped fruits, scraping in every last drop of liquor with a rubber spatula, and mix to combine thoroughly,
  5. Scrape and press the mixture into the prepared pudding basin, squish it down and put on the lid. Then wrap with a layer of foil (probably not necessary, but I do it as I once had a lid-popping and water-entering experience when steaming a pudding) so that the basin is watertight. Cover with parchment paper, tie a string around the rim to ensure all is secure. 
  6. Place the bowl on upside down ramekin in the pan and fill boiling water (to come halfway up the basin) and cook for 8 hours on a very low setting with the lid on.
  7. Check every few hours as you may need to add water throughout the day.
  8. When it’s had its 8 hours, remove gingerly (you don’t want to burn yourself) and, when manageable, unwrap the foil, and put the pudding in its basin somewhere out of the way in the kitchen or, if you’re lucky enough, a larder, until Christmas Day.
  9. I like to open every few weeks and add a few tablespoons of brandy to soak in. Adds that extra bit of boozy luxury on the day!

The Day of Serving

  1. On the big day, rewrap the pudding (still in its basin) in foil and steam again, this time for 1.5 hours. 
  2. To serve, remove from the pan or steamer, take off the lid, put a plate on top, turn it upside down and give the plastic basin a little squeeze to help unmould the pudding. Then remove the basin – and voilà, the delightful colour and aromas revealed.
  3. Put the sprig of holly on top of the dark, mutely gleaming pudding, then heat some brandy/rum in a small pan and the minute it’s hot, but before it boils – you don’t want the alcohol to burn off before you attempt to flambé it – turn off the heat, strike a match, stand back and light the pan off, then pour the flaming alcohol over the pudding and take it as fast as you safely can to your guests. 
  4. If it feels less dangerous to you, pour the warm alcohol into a ladle and pour over the pudding and then light the pudding. 
  5. Serve with custard which you can easily make – it’s the work of undemanding moments – while the pudding’s steaming.

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