Delicious recipes straight from the kitchens of your favorite Tule authors.
When I moved to the UK twelve years ago, I was a bit taken aback by a lot of things, but nothing quite left me as flummoxed as Christmas pudding, that unique and ubiquitous festive dessert! Brits have an unusual thing about celebratory desserts—traditionally any celebration requires a fruit cake, made with raisins, sultanas, currants, and candied peel. Add a very thick, hard layer of marzipan icing, and you’ve got what people bring out for birthdays, baptisms, anniversaries, you name it! I think, as Great Britain becomes inevitably more Americanized, the tradition of this kind of cake is fading a bit, and the classic vanilla or chocolate sponge is coming more into vogue—but Christmas pudding is still brought out on December 25th!
If you don’t like dried fruit, it’s probably not your thing, but there is something truly magnificent and Dickensian about the Christmas pudding, brought out perfectly molded on a platter and then doused in brandy or rum and set alight—yes, really! My husband has a special silver spoon he heats over a candle until the brandy bursts into blue flame, which he thens pours over the pudding. It’s quite a sight to see. As for eating… well, anything tastes delicious with lashings of brandy butter or cream.
Below I am sharing Mary Berry, the undisputed Queen of British Baking’s recipe for Christmas pudding. I make mine at the end of November, and feed it a tablespoon of rum per week until Christmas. On the day, you boil it for a couple of hours, upend it on a dish, and then, yes, set it on fire! Truly an experience for the senses.
For the pudding
- 450g/1lb dried mixed fruit (use a mixture of sultanas, raisins, and snipped apricots)
- 1 small cooking apple, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
- 1 orange, finely grated rind and juice
- 3 tbsp brandy, sherry, or rum, plus extra for flaming
- 75g/3oz butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
- 100g/3½oz light muscovado sugar
- 2 free-range eggs
- 100g/4oz self-raising flour
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 40g/1½oz fresh white breadcrumbs
- 40g/1½oz whole shelled almonds, roughly chopped
For the brandy butter
- 4 tbsp brandy or rum
- Measure the sultanas, raisins, apricots and apple into a bowl with the orange juice. Add the measured brandy (rum or sherry), stir 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 whisk until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a little of the measured 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 soaked dried fruits with their soaking liquid and stir well.
- Generously butter a 1.4 litre/2½ pint pudding basin. Cut a small disc of foil or baking parchment and press into the base of the basin.
- Spoon into the prepared pudding basin and press the mixture down with the back of a spoon. Cover the pudding with a layer of baking parchment 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 eight hours, topping up the water as necessary.
- To boil the pudding, put a metal jam jar lid, or metal pan lid, into the base of a large pan to act as a trivet. Place a long, doubled strip of foil in the pan, between the trivet and the pudding basin, ensuring the ends of the strip reach up and hang over the edges of the pan. This will help you to lift the heavy pudding basin out of the pan of hot water when it has finished cooking.
- Lower the pudding onto the trivet and pour in enough boiling water to come half way up the side of 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.
- For the brandy butter, place the butter into a mixing bowl and cream with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy – or for speed use an electric hand-held mixer. Beat in the sieved icing sugar until smooth, then add brandy, rum or cognac, to taste. Spoon into a serving dish, cover and set aside in the fridge.
- When cooked through, remove the pudding from the pan and cool completely. Discard the paper and foil and replace with fresh. Store in a cool, dry place.
- To serve, on Christmas Day, steam or boil the pudding for about two hours to reheat. Turn the pudding onto a serving plate. To flame, warm the brandy or rum in a small pan, pour it over the hot pudding and set light to it. Serve with brandy butter.
Enjoy! And Happy Holidays!
About the Author.
Kate Hewitt wrote her first story at the age of five, simply because her older brother had written one and she thought she could do it too. That story was one sentence long—fortunately, they have become a bit more detailed as she’s grown older.
She studied drama in college and shortly after graduation moved to New York City to pursue a career in theatre. This was derailed by something far better—meeting the man of her dreams who happened also to be her older brother’s childhood friend.
Ten days after their wedding they moved to England, where Kate worked a variety of different jobs—drama teacher, editorial assistant, church youth worker, secretary, and finally mother.
When her oldest daughter was one year old, she sold her first short story to a British magazine, The People’s Friend. Since then she has written many stories and serials as well as novels. In 2007 she received ‘The Call’ from Mills & Boon for her first Harlequin Presents novel, The Italian’s Chosen Wife. Since then she has written over 25 books for Harlequin, and also writes women’s fiction for Carina UK and Lion Hudson Press. She loves writing stories that both tackle tough issues and celebrate the redeeming power of love.
Besides writing, she enjoys reading, traveling, and learning to knit—it’s an ongoing process and she’s made a lot of scarves.
Kate lives in a tiny village on the northwest coast of England with her husband, five young children, and an overly affectionate Golden Retriever.