It would be unthinkable to celebrate Christmas in Great Britain without serving a moist and delicious Christmas pudding as the finale to Christmas dinner. I’ve always wondered just what all the fuss is about when it comes to Christmas puddings, and since they line the shelves and end caps of the major grocery stores in London during the Christmas holiday season, I picked up several different types on a recent visit and brought them home to try. Most of the puddings I purchased were dark and moist; most contained raisins, sultanas (golden raisins), currants, and candied peel; many were quite boozey.
While these store-bought puddings gave me an idea of how a traditional Christmas pudding should taste, they weren’t anything special as far as I was concerned. Knowing full well that store-bought isn’t as good as homemade, I set to work making puddings in my kitchen. I learned that steaming a pudding in the slow cooker takes very little effort, and the results are actually moister than those steamed the traditional way. I also learned that homemade Christmas puddings are moist and delicious.
The following Christmas pudding recipe, which takes the best parts of several recipes that I gathered from British food magazines and English cookbooks, is one that I will serve as one of the desserts at my Christmas dinner. I chose to omit the candied peel, but you can add a half cup and decrease the raisins or currants by a half cup. If you can’t find mixed spice, mix 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg.
My family liked it best served with Bird’s Custard (a British standby that is available on the gelatin aisle of most major grocery stores in the US), but hard sauce is also a good option or even sweetened whipped cream.
This pudding can be made ahead and wrapped tightly (in brandy soaked cheesecloth if you like. According to a BellaOnline reader from the UK, the puddings should be made 6 weeks ahead of serving, wrapped in waxed paper, then foil, and stored in a cool, dark, place. To reheat, it should be steamed for an hour or more, although it can be microwaved if in a pinch. This recipe makes enough for two puddings – one to keep and one to give away.
Traditional British Christmas Puddings in the Slow Cooker
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup Guinness
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 3/4 cups stale breadcrumbs
1 large cooking apple, (about 8 ounces) peeled, cored, and finely chopped
6 ounces shredded suet
1/2 cup finely chopped whole almonds
1 cup golden raisins
1 3/4 cups currants
2 cups raisins
- Place a saucer upside down in the bottom of two slow cookers.
- Spray 2 6 cup pudding basins or ceramic bowls (or one standard 8 cup pudding basin and a 1 quart ceramic bowl) liberally with non-stick spray. Cut a piece of parchment the size of the bottom of the basins or bowls; set aside.
- Grate the zest of the orange into a large mixing bowl; juice the orange into a measuring cup and add additional water to make 1/2 cup.
- Pour the juice into the mixing bowl along with the brown sugar, eggs, and Guinness; mix well.
- Add the flour, salt, mixed spice, nutmeg, apple, suet, and almonds.
- Mix until well-incorporated, then fold in the golden raisins, currants, and raisins.
- Divide the batter among the two prepared basins or bowls, filling them 2/3-3/4 full.
- Place the parchment directly on top of the pudding.
- Cover both molds tightly with foil, then top with the pudding basin lids. If using bowls, just use a double layer of foil.
- Place each of the puddings in a slow cooker. Pour about 4 inches of hottest tap water into the slow cookers, put on the lids, and let cook on high 5-7 hours.
- Remove the puddings from the slow cooker, unwrap, and invert onto a serving plate.
- Serve with warm custard or hard sauce.
Note: if making ahead, the puddings can be wrapped in brandy soaked cheesecloth, then foil and kept in a dark place for a week or so. To heat, place the puddings back in their molds, cover with foil, and place in the slow cookers as above. They will need only about an hour to heat. Alternately, the puddings can be microwaved: cover with plastic wrap and heat 30 seconds to a minute. If additional time is needed, reheat in 30 second intervals. Don't overcook, as the pudding will dry out.
Variations: You will need about 4 3/4 cups of dried fruit. You may decrease some of the fruit in the recipe and replace it with mixed peel or other favorite dried fruit.
Amount Per Serving
Calories 399 Calories from Fat 130
Percent Total Calories From: Fat 33% Protein 6% Carb. 60%
Nutrient Amount per Serving
Total Fat 14 g
Saturated Fat 6 g
Cholesterol 48 mg
Sodium 173 mg
Total Carbohydrate 60 g
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Sugars 0 g
Protein 6 g
Vitamin A 2% Vitamin C 11% Calcium 0% Iron 11%