Irish American Mom’s Christmas Pudding

 It’s that time of year again!  Time to make Christmas puddings, so their wonderful flavors and spices mature to perfection before Christmas Day. This is a traditional dessert, served on Christmas Day in most Irish and British households, and made four to six weeks before Christmas.

This practice originated in medieval England, when it was often referred to as plum pudding.  Old recipes call for a mixture of dried fruits and sweet spices, very luxurious ingredients in olden times.

In early November grocery stores display all the key ingredients for Christmas delicacies – raisins, cherries, dates, cranberries and brown sugar.  Making Christmas puddings was an annual tradition I remember fondly.  Each year growing up n Ireland, my Mom and I reviewed our family recipe in early November.  Together we  shopped for the long list of Christmas pudding ingredients.  This year, as I renew old family traditions, my four year-old little girl helped me to make our puddings.  I tried to get the boys involved, but I may as well have asked them to watch paint dry.

This is my Mom’s old recipe, tweaked a little, to give it an American spin.  Currants are small dried raisin-like berries used in Ireland, but I have never been able to find them on this side of the Atlantic.  I substitute dried wild blueberries instead and throw in some dried cranberries for additional American flavor.

Here is my Irish American fusion version of Christmas pudding.  Making it is a lengthy process, but well worth the effort.  The pudding is delicious.

 

The ingredient list is extensive, as you can see from the picture above.  In years gone by, the expense of the required ingredients, ensured plum pudding was reserved for such a special occasion as Christmas.

  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade (with large chunks of peel)
  • 1/2 cup dried pineapple (chopped in small pieces)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups raisins
  • 1 and 1/2 cups golden raisins
  • 1 cup dried wild blueberries
  • 1/2 cup marishcino cherries (halved with stems removed)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dates (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup almonds (slivered)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 and 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 green apple (peeled and grated)
  • 1 carrot (peeled and grated)
  • 8oz melted butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 lemon (juice and grated rind)
  • 1 orange (juice and grated peel)
  • 4 eggs (whisked)
  • 2fl oz brandy
  • 1 cup Guinness stout (8 fluid ounces)

 

Traditional pudding recipes call for mixed peel, which is a mixture of candied orange, lemon and lime peels.  The mixed peel available at our local grocery, uses many artificial food colorings and flavors, which I am not very fond of.  Instead I create my own substitute using dried pineapple and marmalade.

First I dice two dried pineapple rings into small pieces.

Next I add a 1/2 cup of orange marmalade.  Be sure to pick a marmalade with large chunks of peel.

Mixed Peel Substitute

Next I mix the pineapple and marmalade together and set it aside for about 1 hour before I make my puddings.  This allows the pineapple time to soak up some of the sugary, orange marmalade flavors.  If you wish you can use 1 cup of mixed peel instead of this marmalade and dried pineapple mix.

Dried fruit for Christmas Pudding

Next comes the fun part – mixing all the different dried fruits together.  Shades of gold, red, tan, brown, and black bespeckle the mixing bowl, in a fitting fall color fiesta.  Add the raisins, golden raisins and dried wild blueberries to a large mixing bowl.

Dried fruit for Christmas Pudding

Next come the chopped dates and cranberries.

Slivered almonds, chopped walnuts and cherry halves

Chopped walnuts and slivered almonds are the nuts I choose, but if you wish to further Americanize this pudding, you could substitute chopped pecans for one of these nut varieties.  Glace cherries can be used, but I chose maraschino cherries, without any red dyes added.  Remove the stems and halve the cherries.

Dried fruit and nuts

Toss the fruit and nuts to the mixing bowl.  I love to admire this colorful mound of goodness piling high in my bowl.

Next add the brown sugar and mix through the fruit.  If you like a darker pudding, use dark brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of treacle or molasses (added to the beaten eggs a little later).  I use regular light brown sugar and skip the treacle.  I don’t like my pudding to be too rich and dark.  I like to be able to see and appreciate the different types and colors of dried fruit used, when the pudding is sliced for serving.

Add the breadcrumbs.

Mix the crumbs through the fruit and nut mixture.

Next comes time to prepare the flour and spices.  Look at the lovely autumn spice shades in the picture above.  I use pumpkin pie spice as a substitute for Irish mixed spice, together with cinnamon, nutmeg and ground cloves.  Sieve the flour, salt and spices together.

Add the flour and spice mixture to the fruit, nuts and breadcrumbs.

Dry ingredients for Christmas Pudding

Mix the flour through the mixture to fully coat the fruit.

Carrot and apple for christmas pudding

Grate the orange and lemon peel, green apple and carrot.

Mix them through the pudding mixture.

Melt two sticks of butter.  The microwave melts two sticks in 45 seconds to 1 minute depending on your microwave’s power.  Add the melted butter and mix into all the ingredients.  Traditional pudding recipes call for suet or lard to be used.  I just cannot bring myself to add such artery clogging, saturated fat to this delicacy.  Instead I just increased how much butter I used (still not low-fat, but at least a little better than lard, in my mind).

Juice the lemon and orange and add to four eggs in a separate mixing bowl.

Add the brandy to the eggs and juice and whisk them all together.  If you like a darker pudding add 2 tablespoons of molasses or treacle to the eggs at this point.

Add the pineapple/marmalade mixture to the eggs.  I find this makes the marmalade a little less sticky and easier to mix throughout the pudding.

Pour the flavored egg mixture into the fruit mix and use a big spoon to combine all the ingredients together.

Now comes time for the most important ingredient of all, making this recipe  truly Irish.  Good, Irish stout adds an extra depth of flavor and richness to an Irish Christmas pudding.

Mix everything together, ensuring no pockets of dry ingredients remain.  The mixture is quite wet at this point, but don’t worry.  The puddings are not ready for steaming just yet.  To ensure the flavors meld and develop, and to allow the fruit time to expand in its cognac and Guinness bath, it is best to allow the mixture rest for at least 12 hours prior to cooking.

The final step for today, is to cover up the mixing bowl and set it aside overnight.  If you are worried about raw eggs, you can keep the mixture in the refrigerator.  However, I find that the dried fruit absorbs the liquids better at room temperature, so I put mine high up on a kitchen cabinet.  Cooking involves steaming for many hours, leaving little chance for any bugs to survive.

Preparing your pudding for steaming takes some time, and requires some age-old tips, I will share in a separate post.  So put your pudding mixture aside to mature, and come back the next day to steam it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   using twine handles to lift plum pudding bowl from crockpotPart-two of this Christmas Pudding tutorial is dedicated to step-by-step instructions for steaming the pudding in a crockpot. 

 

 

A flaming Christmas pudding or plum puddingFor anyone interested in setting their Christmas pudding alight, here’s my simple tutorial for setting a pudding ablaze.

 

 

 

Here is a printable version of the complete recipe.

Irish American Mom’s Christmas Pudding

Prep time 24 hours
Cook time 7 hours
Total time 31 hours
Meal type Dessert
Occasion Christmas
Region British
Christmas or plum pudding is a traditional dessert, served on Christmas Day in most Irish and English households, and made four to six weeks before Christmas.

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 cup Raisins
  • 1 and 1/2 cup Golden Raisins
  • 1 cup Dried Wild Blueberries
  • 1/2 cup Marishcino Cherries (halved with stems removed)
  • 1/2 cup Orange marmalade (with large chunks of peel)
  • 1/2 cup Dried Pineapple (chopped in small pieces)
  • 1/2 cup Dried Cranberries
  • 1/2 cup Dates (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup Walnuts (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup almonds (slivered)
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 and 1/2 cups Breadcrumbs
  • 2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cloves
  • 1 Green Apple (peeled and grated)
  • 1 Carrot (peeled and grated)
  • 8oz Melted Butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 Lemon (juice and grated rind)
  • 1 Orange (juice and grated peel)
  • 4 Eggs (whisked)
  • 2fl oz Brandy
  • 1 cup Guinness Stout (8 fluid ounces)

Directions

Step 1 Chop the dried pineapple into small pieces and mix into the marmalade. Cover and let stand for 1 hour before mixing the pudding.
Step 2 Add the raisins, golden raisins, dried wild blueberries, dried cranberries, and chopped dates to a large mixing bowl. Remove the stems from the maraschino cherries, cut into halves, and add to the fruit in the bowl.
Step 3 Add the chopped walnuts and slivered almonds to the mixing bowl.
Step 4 Add the brown sugar and bread crumbs and mix well.
Step 5 Sieve the flour, salt and spices, then stir into the prepared fruit and nuts.
Step 6 Add the grated apple and carrot, the grated lemon and orange peel.
Step 7 Pour the melted butter over the fruit mixture and combine well together.
Step 8 Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl. Add the fruit juices and brandy and whisk again. Add the marmalade and pineapple mixture to the eggs. Mix together well before adding the egg mixture to the prepared fruit and nuts in the large bowl. Mix well together.
Step 9 Pour the Guinness stout over the fruit mixture and combine together gently, but thoroughly, mixing the stout throughout the pudding mixture.
Step 10 Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Leave the mixture for at least 12 hours before cooking, to allow the flavors time to blend.
Step 11 Brush the inside of two glass pudding bowls, that can withstand boiling temperatures, with melted butter. This recipe makes one 1 and 1/2 quart size pudding, and one larger 2 and 1/2 quart size.
Step 12 Place approximately two-thirds of the pudding mixture in the larger bowl, and the remainder in the smaller glass steaming bowl.
Step 13 Cover the bowls with a large piece of parchment paper, with a fold creased into the center. Secure around the rim of the bowl with cotton thread. Cover the entire bowl and parchment paper cover in aluminum foil.
Step 14 Using cotton twine or thread create a handle around the prepared bowl for ease of lifting in and out of a crockpot. Place the bowl in a crockpot large enough for the pudding bowl to stand a minimum of a 1/2-inch away from the walls of the crockpot basin.
Step 15 Add water to the crockpot to cover three-quarters of the height of the pudding bowl. Cook on high power for 1 hour, then reduce to low heat for an additional 5 hours for the smaller pudding and 6 hours for the larger pudding.
Step 16 Remove the bowl from the crockpot and allow to cool for two hours before unwrapping the pudding.
Step 17 Place a plate under the cooking bowl, turn it over, and allow gravity loosen the pudding onto the plate. Wrap the pudding in aluminum foil when fully cooled. Store in an air-tight container for 4 to 6 weeks prior to eating. To reheat the pudding, place back into a steaming bowl. Prepare the bowl as outlined above and resteam on high for 1 hour in a crockpot.
Step 18 Serve in slices with egg custard or whipped cream, or brandy butter.

Purchasing Ready-Made Christmas Puddings In America:

 

A quick disclosure note: The link below is an affiliate link and I will receive a commission if you choose to make purchases using this link. Thanks in advance if you do utilize this link for your Irish shopping.

Over the past few months I have received many e-mails from readers requesting information on where to purchase Irish food items in the United States. And so for anyone in America interested in purchasing pre-made plum puddings or Christmas puddings and other Irish food treats check out the Food Ireland website.  They have a wonderful selection of Irish goodies which can be shipped throughout the United States.

Slan agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

 

Irish American Mom

 

P.S.  This recipe will turn out fine even if it isn’t made weeks before Christmas. Advance cooking is the traditional way of allowing time for the flavors to mature.  The difference between an aged and a new pudding would probably only be detected by a seasoned Christmas-pudding-eating palate.

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Comments

  1. Jane Rix says:

    I’m hoping to have the courage to try this next Christmas, I’ve always wanted to make a Christmas pudding. I’ve bought currents at Whole Foods in their bulk section. Once in a while I can find them at my local grocery store. Maybe because there’s a large Irish American community in my Chicago neighborhood. I really enjoy your blog.

    • Jane – My husband really enjoys Christmas pudding. My version is a little lighter than many Irish versions since I don’t use treacle which is like molasses, but I prefer it that way. Using a crock pot to cook it eliminates all the worry of a pot simmering over an open flame for hours.

      So glad you found my blog and enjoy my postings. All the best.

      Mairead

  2. Mairead,
    Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I enjoyed gathering all the ingredients over the course of several trips to the grocery store in anticipation of baking day! I must say, the Christmas pudding was delicious and a smash hit on Christmas Eve! As children, we always looked forward to the plum pudding and custard when my Godmother visited on Christmas Eve. I am thrilled to have a successful recipe for it now, and I thank you. The tradition continues…

  3. Rachel Kachun says:

    Hello Irish American Mom,

    This Christmas pudding recipe looks amazing! However, for storing in an airtight container for 4-6 weeks, is that in the refrigerator or pantry?

    Thanks,

    Rachel–

    • Rachel – I always store my Christmas puddings in the pantry for 4 to 6 weeks. The amount of alcohol in the recipe helps to preserve the pudding. In a very hot, humid climate like Florida, it might be advisable to freeze them or store them in the refrigerator, but in colder climates the pantry should be just fine.
      Take care, and thanks for stopping by,
      Mairéad

  4. sam phillips says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe, I have been desperately looking for suet to make the tradition recipe pudding but this looks so much easier than continuing on this hopeless search! I am printing the recipe and going shopping for the ingredients tomorrow. I can’t wait to make this with my daughter. Great blog, so glad I found it.

  5. Emily Jagusch says:

    Hi there! I am making your pudding again this year… at the request of my husband (a kiwi) and his kiwi friend. My question to you is how long can I leave the mixture in the fridge before steaming? Only one bowl will fit in m y crock pot at a time- so I was thinking that I would steam one 12-18 hours after making the mixture and then do the other the next day. is this a bad idea? Thanks so much!

    • Emily – Your plan will work out fine. Keeping the uncooked pudding refrigerated for 48 hours will be no problem. The booze in it helps preserve it from going bad also. Hope your husband and his friend enjoy their Christmas pudding again this year.
      All the best,
      Mairead

  6. I have never attempted anything like this. Mom always made drunken fruitcake. It looks simple enough if one plans and would be a fun tradition and needn’t be expensive if you have a grocery store with an extensive bulk food section like Winco in the NW. Going away for Christmas, but I think this would be lovely for New Year’s Eve. Will give it a try. Thanks!

  7. Whoops! Just noticed this has to age. I’ll figure it out.

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