Rich Christmas pudding

Rich Christmas pudding

The 12 Days of Christmas
Mark Roper

Christmas pudding, stuck with a piece of holly, flaming with brandy or rum, served with a rich custard or rum butter, is one of the highlights of Christmas. And Christmas pudding or warm mincemeat tart wouldn’t be quite the same without this gorgeous hard sauce – brandy butter melting into the spicy, fruity, delectable pudding. If rum is your fancy use a strong rum instead of brandy.


Quantity Ingredient
250g raisins
60g mixed peel
250g sultanas
250g currants
125g chopped blanched almonds
1/4 cup rum or brandy, plus extra for flaming
250g unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 orange, rind grated
4 eggs
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
125g soft white breadcrumbs

Brandy sauce

Quantity Ingredient
45g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons plain flour
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup brandy

Brandied butter

Quantity Ingredient
250g unsalted butter
3/4 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/4 whole nutmeg, grated
1 teaspoon grand marnier
3 tablespoons brandy


  1. Sprinkle all the fruits and the almonds with the brandy or rum into a large bowl, cover and leave overnight.
  2. Cream the butter until soft, add the sugar and orange rind and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift the flour and spices into a bowl and then fold into the sugar and butter mixture. Stir in the breadcrumbs and the marinated fruit and almonds until well combined.
  3. Place the mixture into a well-greased pudding basin lined with a circle of greased baking paper cut to fit the base. Cover with another circle of greased baking paper to fit the top of the pudding basin. Cover the pudding with a large sheet of baking paper with a pleat in the centre, to allow for any rising. Tie firmly with string, placing a plate on top of the bowl to hold the paper in place while doing so. Make a handle of string from side to side of the bowl, latching it onto the string around the bowl, and use to lower the pudding gently into boiling water.
  4. Steam, covered, for 6 hours. The water should come halfway up the side of the pudding bowl. It is a good idea to sit the pudding on a metal ring or an old, upturned saucer. Top up with boiling water from time to time. Remove from the water, cover with fresh baking paper and string. Store until needed.
  5. To serve, put the pudding into a saucepan of boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the basin and steam for 2½ hours. Invert the pudding onto a heated plate. To flame, warm a tablespoon or so of rum or brandy, light and pour over the pudding at the table – turn the lights low first to enjoy the flame and be amazed at the spectacle. Serve accompanied by vanilla egg custard, brandy sauce or heavy cream.
  6. For the brandy sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan and stir in the flour. Cook for a minute without colouring then add the sugar, golden syrup, cream and milk. Stir to combine and continue cooking over a gentle heat until thick and creamy. Stir in brandy and serve hot with Christmas pudding.
  7. For the brandied butter, cream the butter until soft and white, then beat in the icing sugar. When creamy, beat in the orange rind, nutmeg and Grand Marnier. Lastly, add the brandy, drop by drop, beating all the time so the mixture doesn’t curdle (a liqueur brandy is the best if you have it). This may be made on the same day as the pudding. Pack it into a bowl with a lid, first covering it with foil, and store in the fridge. Remove it from the fridge well beforehand on Christmas Day, spoon it into a bowl and fluff up with a fork. If it is preferred hard, leave it in the fridge until ready to serve.


  • This pudding will keep for many months. For this quantity you will need a 1.7 litre pudding bowl, or you can make two puddings using two smaller basins.
The 12 Days of Christmas
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