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Chef’s Christmas Pudding Recipe

John Brandon, Head Chef, The Elms Hotel

This is my own much-loved Christmas Pudding recipe, tried and tested many times over. It's well worth the effort and can be easily made in the months ahead of Christmas then stored until the big day. Why not indulge your family and friends this festive season?


  • 150 grams currants
  • 150 grams sultanas
  • 150 grams roughly chopped prunes
  • 175 ml Sweet sherry (pedro ximenez is best)
  • 100 grams plain flour
  • 125 grams fresh breadcrumbs
  • 150 grams suet
  • 150 grams dark brown muscovado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 medium cooking apple (peeled and grated)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 125ml brandy or vodka  (to flame the pudding)


1.      Put the currants, sultanas and scissored prunes into a bowl with the sherry. Mix a little, then cover with cling film and leave to steep for 1 week.

2.      When the fruits have had their steeping time, put a large pan of water on to boil, or heat some water in a conventional steamer. Butter your heatproof plastic pudding basin (or basins), remembering to grease the lid, too.

3.      In a large mixing bowl, combine all the remaining pudding ingredients (except the spirit). Your chosen method of stirring, and who does it, probably won’t affect the outcome of your wishes or your Christmas.

4.      Add the steeped fruits, scraping in every last drop of liquor with a rubber spatula, and mix to combine thoroughly. Then fold in cola-cleaned coins or heirloom charms. If you are at all frightened about choking, do leave out the metal work.

5.      Scrape and press the mixture into the prepared pudding basin, squish it down and put on the lid. Then wrap with a layer of foil and either put the basin in the pan of boiling water (to come halfway up the basin) or in the top of a lidded steamer and steam for 5 hours, checking every now and again that the water hasn’t bubbled away.

6.      When it’s had 5 hours, remove gingerly and, when cool, unwrap the foil. Put the pudding in its basin somewhere out of the way in the kitchen until Christmas Day.

7.      On the big day, rewrap the pudding (still in its basin) in foil and steam again, this time for 3 hours.

8.      To serve, remove from the pan or steamer, take off the lid, put a plate on top, turn it upside down and give the plastic basin a little squeeze to help unmould the pudding. Then remove the basin.

9.      Place the sprig of holly on top of the pudding, then heat the spirit in a small pan and the minute it’s hot, but before it boils – you don’t want the alcohol to burn off before you flame it – turn off the heat. Strike a match, stand back and light the pan of spirit, then pour the flaming booze over the pudding and take it as fast as you safely can to your guests. Don’t worry if the holly catches alight; I have never known it to be anything but singed.