This seasonal staple is best made ahead, then left to gently warm while you eat Christmas lunch
OFM’s 20 best Christmas baking recipes in full
Christmas pudding by Violet Bakery’s Claire Ptak.
Christmas pudding by Violet Bakery’s Claire Ptak. Photograph: Patricia Niven/The Observer
When I moved to London in July 2005 I had never eaten a proper Christmas pudding, much less made one. But I had started Violet by November as a market stall and was getting a few requests about Christmas puddings. Would I make them? Did I like them? What was my secret ingredient? I just smiled and nodded and spent the next month testing and tweaking to get my recipe right. I was told in January told by the brave souls that tried my first attempt that it was one of the best they had tasted. This is still the same recipe 14 years later. It’s bright, rich, spicy and most importantly delicious. Serve with brandy butter.
This can and should be made in advance. Then it can be put into the oven when you sit down for lunch on Christmas day, and it should be hot by the time you’ve finished eating.
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Makes 1 large pudding for a 16-18cm basin
mixed candied peel 120g
brandy 2 tbsp
stout 5 tbsp
lemon 2 tsp each of zest and juice
orange 2 tsp each of zest and juice
black treacle or molasses 75g
dark brown sugar 150g
ground almonds 2 tbsp
egg 1 large
Javstreaming plain or gluten free flour 2 tbsp, plus 2 tsp
fine sea salt ½ tsp
nutmeg a few grates
cinnamon ½ tsp
mixed spice ½ tsp
unsalted butter 75g, cold
fresh breadcrumbs 75g
For the brandy butter
unsalted butter 200g
icing sugar 200g
vanilla 1 tsp
good brandy 6 tbsp
In a large container with a lid, combine the dried fruits, candied peel, brandy, stout, citrus zest and juice, treacle or molasses, dark brown sugar and ground almonds. Stir well and leave for a week or so to plump the dried fruit.
On baking day, butter and line a 16-18cm pudding basin with baking paper. Heat oven to 160C/gas mark 3. Prepare a water bath for the pudding – something like a deep roasting dish.
Turn the fruit mixture into a large bowl and stir in the egg.
In another bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients. Cut in the cold butter and mix to a coarse meal. Stir in the breadcrumbs then combine with the fruit mixture until fully incorporated.
Spoon the mixture into your prepared basin and cut a slightly larger circle of parchment to place on the top. It is helpful to put a fold in the parchment so it can expand as the pudding rises. Place this parchment over the top of the basin and secure tightly with string. Wrap kitchen foil slightly domed over the top but sealed tightly around the basin edge to avoid water seeping in. Place in the water bath (the water should reach half way up the basin). Then cover the entire roasting tray with foil and carefully place in the oven.
Bake for 4 hours, checking from time to time that there’s still water in the pan. After baking, take the pudding out of the water bath and cool completely. Once cool, remove all wrapping. Then with a warm clean cloth, wipe away any mess or spillages from the outside of the basin. Re-cover the pudding with a double layer of clingfilm and store in a cool dry place until Christmas.
On the day, preheat the oven to 160C/gas mark 3. Remove the clingfilm from the basin, then cover the pudding with parchment and foil, as in the first baking. Place in a water bath and bake for an hour to 90 minutes (during Christmas lunch). Turn out onto a serving plate, douse with brandy and set on fire, then slice and serve with brandy butter.
To make the brandy butter, whip the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the vanilla and brandy and whip until smooth. Can be kept for two weeks in fridge.