Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Christmas pudding
- November 2021
- Serves 8-10 (makes 1 large or 2 smaller puddings)
- Hands-on time 30 min, plus overnight soaking and cooling
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall shares his recipe for Christmas pudding, the River Cottage way. This zesty pud is packed with citrus and apple, plus a secret ingredient.
How about some muscavado brandy butter to serve with your pud?
- 20.3g (8.7g saturated)
- 50.3g (32.5g sugars)
For the booze-soaked fruit
- 100g pitted prunes or unsulphured dried apricots, roughly chopped
- 10g dried apples or pears, roughly chopped
- 50g currants
- 100g raisins
- 50g natural glacé cherries, halved, or dried cherries
- 75g preserved stem ginger, chopped, plus 1 tbsp syrup from the jar
- 30g candied orange peel
- 15g candied lemon peel
- 50g almonds, roughly chopped
- 50g pumpkin seeds
- 100ml dry cider
- 150ml cider brandy, brandy or rum, plus extra to ‘feed’ the pudding and to flame it
For the pudding
- 100g self-raising wholemeal flour (or fine wholemeal flour plus 2 tsp baking powder)
- 1 tsp each ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground mixed spice
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- 150g shredded beef suet or grated very cold butter
- 75g fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
- 50g dark muscovado sugar
- 2 medium free-range eggs
- 50g dark treacle
- 2 pinches sea salt
- Finely grated zest 1 orange
- 1 eating apple, grated
- 100g grated parsnip
- Butter to grease
You’ll also need
- 2.25 litre pudding basin or 2 x 1.1 litre basins, lightly buttered (you can use a slightly larger basin, up to almost 3 litres)
- For the booze-soaked fruit, put all the ingredients in a large bowl, stir, then cover and leave to soak overnight or, better still, for 24 hours, with a couple of good stirs.
- The next day, sift the flour, baking powder if using, and spices into a large mixing bowl. Rub in the suet or butter with your fingertips, then stir in the breadcrumbs and sugar. Beat in the eggs, then stir in the soaked fruit and the remaining pudding ingredients except the butter. Use to fill the prepared basin/s.
- Cover the basin/s with a layer of buttered baking paper, then a layer of foil, both pleated in the middle to allow for expansion. Tie in place with string around the rim, leaving an extra length as a handle. Lower the basin into a large saucepan with an upturned plate in the bottom and pour in boiling water to come halfway up the sides. Put the lid on and bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 3 hours, topping up the water as necessary (don’t let the pan boil dry).
- Lift out the basin and set aside to cool. Once cold, replace the baking paper and foil with fresh coverings of the same. Store in a cool larder or cupboard for several weeks. If you want to keep the pudding (or one of them) for longer, you’ll need to ‘feed’ it with brandy or rum. A few days after cooking, prick the surface of the pud with a skewer and pour over 3 tbsp of your chosen spirit. Re-cover and leave in a cool dark place for up to a year.
- On Christmas Day you’ll need to steam the pudding(s) for a further 1-1½ hours, depending on size. Discard the paper and foil covers. Cut a circle of baking paper to lay on top of the pudding and a second, twice the size, to go over the basin with a pleat i the middle. Cover with a piece of pleated foil, secure around the basin rim with string, then create a string handle. Steam in a pan half-filled with boiling water (as above), regularly topping up.
- Lift out the basin and turn the pudding out onto a warmed plate. Flame with warmed brandy and serve with brandy sauce or custard.
EASY SWAPS Use 45g mixed peel if you can’t find the lemon and orange separately.
HUGH’S TIP Any leftovers can be fried in butter, stirred into ice cream or added to the base of a trifle.
If using a plastic basin, cover with a double layer of heat-resistant cling film (instead of the paper and foil) before adding the lid.
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