I'm a mum, grandmother and enthusiastic cook. I've created dozens of easy recipes to share, which I hope you enjoy.
Easy British Christmas Pudding
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas in the UK without serving Christmas pudding after a traditional turkey dinner. This rich and fruity dessert, made with shredded suet, is the highlight of the Christmas Day menu. It is usually placed in the centre of the table, steaming hot. The host then pours neat brandy or whisky over it and sets light to it.
The dessert is served in slices with cream, ice cream, custard sauce (similar to vanilla sauce) or brandy butter (which is butter, confectioners sugar and brandy whipped together).
Many people buy the puddings ready-made, but they are very easy to make. They can be made days, weeks or months in advance and will keep for months with the flavours maturing over time. I have served puddings that I've made two or even three years in advance.
This easy recipe is cooked in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker, and once it is made, the pudding can be reheated in minutes in your microwave oven. I usually pop any leftovers in an airtight container and reheat whenever I want another slice. It's a warming and filling dessert for those cold dark winter evenings and doesn't have to be saved just for Christmas.
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Christmas pudding is made with suet, as are most British steamed puddings. Shredded suet for cooking (not the variety you feed to birds) can be bought on Amazon.com and can be used in both sweet and savoury recipes. I prefer to use vegetable suet as beef suet (the fat around the kidneys of beef cattle) has a taste that I'm not keen on. I'm also not happy adding meat fat to sweet dishes. There's little difference in price, so it's a matter of personal choice.
Once bought, suet can be used in so many ways. The main reason for using suet in steamed puddings is that it has a higher melting temperature than butter or shortening and is more suited to longer cooking times. The resulting puddings and pies are light and airy and should melt in the mouth. You can substitute suet with the equivalent amount of shortening if you wish, but the result will be a much heavier airless pudding that's not as good to eat.
Yield: 1-2 puddings
- 6 cups (1lb) any combination of currants, raisins, sultanas, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, prunes
- 1 cup (4oz) chopped dried apricots
- 2 cups (8oz) chopped cooking apples, no need to peel
- 1 cup (8oz) dark brown sugar
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- Juice and zest of 1 orange
- 3 fl oz of any stout or lager
- 5 tbsps any brandy or whisky (optional)
- 1 cup (4oz) light shredded vegetable suet
- 1 cup (4oz) fresh breadcrumbs
- 1 cup (4oz) mixed chopped nuts
- 1 cup (4oz) ground almonds
- 2 cups (8oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
- 4 eggs
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice or mixed spice
- Put the first eight ingredients into a large mixing bowl, stir well and leave for an hour or two if you have time or preferably overnight. This will ensure that you create a beautifully moist, soft and plump pudding. (Tip: if you're making the pudding at the last minute, pop the mixing bowl and first eight ingredients into a microwave, heat for 5 minutes and leave for 15. This will help plump up the fruit.)
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl, mix well and then pour into a greased pudding basin with lid, leaving at least an inch (2.5cm) at the top to allow the pudding to rise. Secure the lid (or make a cover with greaseproof paper and foil secured in place with a rubber band). Place the bowl on a trivet in your Instant Pot or pressure cooker and fill with water until it reaches approximately halfway up the basin inside. Once your cooker is up to full pressure, cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Keep an eye on the water level as you may need to top it up at least once. Switch off the power and leave the cooker to gently reduce pressure. Open the lid and check the pudding is cooked by inserting a skewer or toothpick. It should come out clean. If not, put it back in the cooker and pressurize for around another 30 minutes.
- Once cooked, you can serve the pudding straight away if you want to. Alternatively, if storing, remove and place the pudding on a large sheet of foil. Make 10-12 small holes in the top of the pudding with a skewer, and "feed" the pudding with brandy or whisky every few weeks. Keep tightly wrapped in the foil until Christmas Day.
- To serve: Remove the pudding from the foil and tip it onto a serving plate. Microwave for 8-10 minutes to reheat. Serve with cream, vanilla ice cream, custard sauce or brandy butter or even all of them!
If you want to set light to the pudding at the table in traditional British fashion, here are my tips for a safe, yet dramatic and exciting result that'll give your guests a real wow factor. Place the pudding in the centre of the table so that it doesn't have to be moved while it's alight. Check there's nothing nearby that's flammable and tell your guests to have their cameras ready. Heat a little brandy or whisky in the microwave for approximately one minute until it's sizzling hot. Turn out the lights, pour the alcohol over the top of the pudding, and put a flame to it. When the flames disappear, cut and serve.