Star cooks Carina Contini and Jane Devonshire are on hand with traditional and gluten-free takes on this festive favourite.
If you think the countdown to Christmas is suddenly speeding up then there is absolute proof of that with Stir-Up Sunday now almost upon us.
Traditionally that’s the day to make your Christmas Pudding – the rich, fruit-laden dessert that, when made in advance, will mature building up flavour and density to become a decadent treat.
It’s believed to date back as far as the 14th Century to a “frumenty” porridge made with beef, mutton, dried fruits, wine and spices, which evolved into a plum pudding that incorporated breadcrumbs and eggs, beer and spirits.
It’s thought to have been banned as a Christmas dessert (along with festive feasting generally) somewhere around 1650 by the Puritans who saw it as far too great an indulgence. Legend has it that it was brought back in the early 1700s by King George I who requested plum pudding at Christmas, becoming firmly established in its present-day form by Victorian times.
Browse the web and you will find an unlimited variety of recipes from some of our best-known cooks and chefs. But to keep things simple, we’re bringing you two easy-to-follow guides; one for a traditional pudding from Scottish restaurateur Carina Contini, and the second for a gluten-free, vegetarian version from former MasterChef winner Jane Devonshire.
Carina Contini’s Traditional Christmas Pudding
Carina Contini of the Contini Edinburgh group of restaurants uses this family recipe passed down from her grandmother.
- 400ml cold water
- 250g golden caster sugar
- 125g unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp treacle
- 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp ground mixed spice
- 750g dried seedless muscatel raisins, soaked overnight in brandy or marsala
- 150ml brandy, marsala wine or Glengoyne 10 year-old to soak the raisins
- 450g plain flour
- 3 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- A pinch of fine sea salt
- Granulated sugar
- A dash of brandy to set alight
- Soak the seedless muscatel raisins overnight in the brandy or marsala.
Place the water, sugar, butter, treacle, spices and fruit into a large pot and stir. Very slowly bring it to the boil.
- Switch the heat off and allow the mixture to cool. It is vital the mixture is cool, but not cold, before you add the sieved flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into the mixture. Stir well – this needs a bit of elbow grease.
- Generously butter a large 1kg pudding bowl or plastic basin with lid. Mummy always placed a circle of baking parchment at the bottom of the bowl to stop it sticking when you turn the pudding out.
- Fill the bowl, cover with another circle of baking parchment and then either use the plastic matching lid or wrap a double layer of foil and parchment around the pudding and tie tightly with string.
- Choose a large pot that the pudding will fit in and allow space to half-fill with water.
- Place a saucer at the bottom of the pot – an insurance policy in case you forget to top up the water half way through the steaming.
- Steam for about three hours.
- On Christmas Day, repeat the steaming process and serve flaming with sugar and brandy and lots of lovely homemade custard.
Jane Devonshire’s Vegetarian and Gluten-Free Pudding
Jane Devonshire will be demonstrating how to make her gluten free Christmas pudding with boozy brandy butter on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 on the Coeliac UK Facebook page. You can find out more here.
This recipe comes from her new cookbook, Vegetarian, Hassle Free, Gluten Free, out 24 December and available to preorder from 1 December.
- 30g candied peel
- 100g sultanas
- 100g raisins
- 100g currants
- 100g chopped glacé cherries
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 150ml good gluten free beer (not lager, the darker the better)
- 2 tablespoons black treacle
- 1 tablespoon mixed spice
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 175g soft dark brown sugar
- 1 Granny Smith apple, grated (I don’t bother to peel)
- 50ml brandy
- 100g gluten free plain flour or chestnut flour*
- 150g ice cold unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs
- 75g gluten free breadcrumbs (homemade is best or good shop bought that are puffy and big, not like powder)
For the boozy brandy butter:
- 150g unsalted butter
- pinch of sea salt
- 50g icing sugar
- 50-75ml brandy, or to taste
You will need:
- 1 x 2lb steaming basin (or 2 x 1lb basins)
- Place all the ingredients into a very large bowl and combine well. Cover with cling film and leave to one side for a day or two until you have the time for Day 2.
- Grease the tin(s) with butter.
- Place 25g of the flour into a flat bottomed bowl or plate (a pasta plate is perfect).
- Grate in a quarter (approximately 40g) of the butter, gently stirring it through the flour to coat, and then add to the Day 1 bowl and stir so that it’s evenly spread through the mixture.
- Repeat this process three times, until all the butter and flour is evenly combined throughout the mixture.
- Add the eggs and breadcrumbs and stir in well, until all mixed through.
- Spoon the mixture in to your pudding basin and place into the steamer. I use a large lidded saucepan and I have invested in some pudding basins that have handles and lids.
- Put two layers of greaseproof paper on the top of the puddings and cover with the basin lid. If you don’t have a lid, make a lid of tin foil, then tie it tightly with string, passing the string around the bowl and over the top to make a cross so it acts like a handle.
- Steam for 7 hours, making sure the water is topped up and does not boil dry. Then, remove from the steamer and uncover.
- Replace the greaseproof paper discs with fresh ones, replace the lid, and leave until the big day. It will keep for months.
- To make the brandy butter, whip the butter, salt and icing sugar together until really light and airy and a light creamy colour. This will take a few minutes and you really do need to have a bit of patience to make sure it’s perfect. It’s much easier done with an electric hand whisk or stand mixer.
- Once you are happy with the consistency of the whipped butter, slowly add in the brandy, continuing to whisk.
- Keep adding slowly being careful not to split the butter, until you are happy with the flavour. This can be kept in the fridge for up to a week.
- On Christmas morning put the pudding on to steam again for at least 2 hours, making sure it does not boil dry.
- Serve the Christmas pudding with the brandy butter.