Christmas Pudding

Christmas Pudding

  • Servings: 2 2 qt cakes
  • Difficulty: challenging
  • Print


I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for two very good friends of mine.  I asked if they had any special requests.  My friend Herb, who grew up in New England, asked for, among other things, Christmas pudding.

I had never made it before and really had no idea what it was but was up for the challenge.  For most Americans, the best description would be a type of fruit cake or a very dense bread pudding.

Christmas pudding is not well known in the U.S., perhaps in New England.  I learned that it is quite popular in the U.K.  I found a recipe on ( that I thought more doable than others, however, I still had to replace a few of the ingredients with others more common in the U.S.

If you decide to make allow for at least 9 hours.


You will also need the following:

  • 2 2 qt size ceramic, heat-proof bowls, or 1 2 qt and 2 1 qt bowls.
  • Parchment paper and a pair of scissors
  • Kitchen twine
  • Aluminum foil
  • Wide and medium height cooking pot with cover
    • This will be the vessel used to create a hot water bath for the bowls containing the pudding mixture.



Christmas Pudding

  • 2 oz blanched almonds
  • 1 Cortland apple
  • 1 Jonathan Gold apple
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • 8 oz candied peel (lemon, orange or citron)
  • 3/4 of 1 whole nutmeg grated
  • 2 1/4 lbs raisins
  • 5 oz all purpose flour
  • 4 oz soft fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 4 oz light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp cognac or brandy
  • 1/2 lbs plus 3 tbsp cold unsalted butter

Cognac cream sauce (for desserts)

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 egg yolk (up to 3 if you want a thicker sauce)
  • 1 tbsp organic raw cane sugar
  • 2 tbsp cognac
  • Pinch of kosher salt



  • Cut circular pieces of parchment paper that will just fit the inside of the lip of each bowl you will use for the pudding mixture, butter one side; set aside.
  • Filling the cooking pot with the right amount of water:
    • Place each bowl into the pot and begin filling the pot with enough water to get to 1 inch below the tops of the bowls.
    • Remove the bowls; set the pot on the stove.
  • Peel, core and cut the apples into approximately 1/2 inch cubes; place in a large mixing bowl.
  • Remove the crust of fresh bread, weigh out 4 oz, place in a food processor and process into crumbs; place in the mixing bowl with the apples.
  • Making the pudding mixture:
    • Place the rest of the ingredients into the mixing bowl with the apples and the bread crumbs, mix well.
    • Grate 1/4 of a stick of butter over the mixture, mix well.
    • Repeat until all of the butter is used up.
  • Filling the bowls:
    • Prepare the ceramic bowls by applying butter all over the bottom and sides of the inside of each bowl.
    • Spoon pudding mixture into each bowl pressing down the mixture so that it’s compact; leave 1/4 inch of space from the top of the pudding and the lip of each bowl.
  • Covering the bowls:
    • Place one parchment circle, butter side down onto the top of each bowl.
    • Get a large enough piece of aluminum foil to cover each bowl down the sides of the bowl by at least 4 inches, fold the sheet of foil in half and then create a 1-inch wide pleated fold in the center (see photo below).
    • Lightly press the foil on the top and down the sides of each bowl to get the foil as snug as possible.
    • Wrap a piece of string tightly around the bowl and just under the lip of each bowl.  Do this twice.
      • To make the handle: Take additional string, double it up, with one end tie a knot around the strings wrapping the bowl lid and then on the opposite side with the other end (see below photo).
    • Cut away any excess foil.



Christmas Pudding

  • Bring the pot of water to a boil, using the string handle, carefully place each bowl into the pot of boiling water, making sure that the water does not cover the bowls.
  • Reduce to a simmer and cook for 8 hours, checking every hour to ensure the water level doesn’t drop.  If you need to add more water do so then bring the pot back to a boil then reduce to a simmer.
  • After 8 hours your Chrismas pudding is cooked, carefully remove the bowls from the pot and place on a rack to cool.
  • When cooled remove the string, foil and parchment paper.
  • Your Christmas pudding is ready to serve, however, you can wrap each pudding in parchment paper, store in a cool and dry place, until you are ready to serve it.
  • Serve with warm cognac cream sauce (recipe below).
    • You can also serve this with whipped cream, ice cream or the brandy (cognac) butter sauce found on

Cognac cream sauce (for desserts):

  • Heat the heavy whipping cream, cognac, and pinch of salt in a small sauce pot on medium high heat.
  • In a small mixing bowl beat the egg and sugar until “ribbons” in the egg mixture appear but do not dissipate quickly.
  • While still whisking slowly pour the hot cream and cognac mixture.
    • This step is called “tempering” the eggs.  You are slowly raising the temperature of the eggs without cooking them and turning them into scrambled eggs.
    • When half of the cream and cognac mixture is blended with the egg mixture pour the egg mixture back into the saucepot with the rest of the cream and cognac.
    • Continue to whisk on low heat until the sauce has thickened.
    • The cognac cream sauce for dessert is ready to serve but keep warm.



Christmas Pudding



2 Comments Add yours

  1. BeaFreitas says:

    Sounds pretty good, thanks for sharing 🙂


    1. Hi and thanks for commenting! It does take some time to cook but I thought it was well worth it.


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