A Christmas plum pudding (also called figgy pudding) is divine—dark, moist, rich, and fruity. This steamed pudding recipe was adapted from Fannie Farmer’s “English Plum Pudding I” from the 1918 edition of her cookbook, the last one she wrote.
A pudding is “steamed” so it’s cooked on the stove, not in the oven. It takes time to make, but that rich flavor is worth the wait—and it makes the whole house smell like Christmas!
This recipe does not use suet like the old English Christmas puddings. The word “plum” in plum pudding was a generic term for any dried fruit—most commonly raisins and currants, with prunes and other dried, preserved or candied fruit added when available.
Plum puddings are often made in pudding molds (like a bundt cake mold) but a special mold is not necessary. Puddings used to be cooked in cloth bags! If you don’t have a mold, we’d suggest a large stainless steel bowl. Even an aluminum can would do. You’ll also need a deep stockpot or an old Lobster pot, and some kitchen string.
In terms of the ingredients, if you don’t like (or don’t wish to buy) the citron or candied peel, you can always add more raisins or currents. And if you don’t want to include brandy, substitute with grape juice.
Traditionally, the Christmas pudding was dressed with warm brandy which was set alight. Due to safety/fire concerns, this is less common today. Plum pudding is usually served with either a hard sauce(usually brandy butter or rum butter), cream, ice cream, or custard. We’ve included a recipe for a foamy sauce.
Steamed plum pudding for Christmas!Christopher Elwell/Shutterstock
Butter your pudding mold or a stainless steel bowl.
Stir the flour, spice, suet, breadcrumbs and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Tip in the fruit and peel or citron, then stir well to combine. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until thoroughly combined
Spoon the mixture into your mold or stainless steel bowl and press down well, leaving room for the pudding to rise a little during steaming. Cover with buttered parchment paper and then cover with foil (or, a pudding cloth if you have one) and tie securely with string.
Stand the mold or bowl on an upturned saucer in a deep stockpot and half fill with boiling water. Cover tightly and steam for 6 hours, topping up the water as necessary. Leave to cool in the pan.
Remove the pudding from the pan and remove the parchment paper and foil/cloth. Then cover with fresh greaseproof parchment paper and foil or cloth. Store your pudding in a cool, dry place.
You can feed it with a few tablespoons of brandy once in a while to keep in moist.
Before serving, steam the pudding again in a bath of simmering water until the pudding is losse enough to turn onto a plate.
(If needed, you can further heat in the microwave before serving.)
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy; then add in the beaten egg and brandy (or vanilla). Transfer to the top of a double boiler and heat over simmering water, stirring continuously, until warm and thickened. Spoon over sliced pudding.