Classic Delia Christmas Puddings

Delia writes in her classic book Complete Illustrated Cookery Course that of all her pudding recipes, her Christmas pudding is the most requested and it is not hard to know why.  I made her Christmas puddings a couple of years ago and having rarely found such a pudding appetising I decided to dig in and it was amazingly good! 😀  As I am not able to find my second set of puddings (I had originally made four) this year (mysteriously disappearing during a kitchen renovation project), I have decided to have another go at this recipe and even make a few extra to include in a few Christmas foodie hampers… I have just taken my puddings out of their respective pans following EIGHT hours of steaming, yes this is sadly the only negative of making these puddings they are so classic, they will not be rushed.  In this age of modern technology and our now now now consumer culture, these puddings hark back to a simpler time and make you realise why those of means employed a cook and army of kitchen staff.  It is simple enough, nothing but a bowl, scales and wooden spoon is required to create the mix and then all you need are some pudding basins, foil, baking parchment, string and saucepans to produce such glorious items.  It couldn’t be simpler, but does require patience and for you to be close by the kitchen all day long for topping up the water levels.  I did find another way of cooking these was to use a slow cooker on high for thirteen hours… these are still on, due off in about four hours.  So will feed my greedy Christmas cakes with apricot brandy at the same time.

Do have a go at this, the result is sublime and will beat anything you can buy in the shops (if you have the time)!

Do remember that you need to begin the day before you want to steam the pudding as you’ll need to mix all the ingredients together and then leave to soak overnight at the least before you can steam them.  However, you can leave up to a week if you want to put onto soak and then run out of time and need to steam the following weekend.

This is the recipe on Delia’s website, however in her original in the cook book, she uses double the quantities.


4 oz (110 g) shredded suet

2 oz (50 g) self-raising flour, sifted

4 oz (110 g) white breadcrumbs

1 level teaspoon ground mixed spice

¼ level teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

good pinch ground cinnamon

8 oz (225 g) soft dark brown sugar

4 oz (110 g) sultanas

4 oz (110 g) raisins

10 oz (275 g) currants

1 oz (25 g) mixed candied peel, finely chopped (buy whole peel if possible, then chop it yourself)

1 oz (25 g) almonds, skinned and chopped

1 small cooking apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped

grated zest ½ large orange

grated zest ½ large lemon

2 tablespoons rum

2½ fl oz (75 ml) barley wine

2½ fl oz (75 ml) stout

2 large eggs



1) Take your largest, roomiest mixing bowl and start by putting in the suet, sifted flour and breadcrumbs, spices and sugar. Mix these ingredients very thoroughly together, then gradually mix in all the dried fruit, mixed peel and nuts followed by the apple and the grated orange and lemon zests.

2) In a jug (or smaller basin) measure out the rum, barley wine and stout, then add the eggs and beat these thoroughly together.

3) Pour this over all the other ingredients, and begin to mix very thoroughly.

N.B. The mixture should have a fairly sloppy consistency – that is, it should fall instantly from the spoon when this is tapped on the side of the bowl. If you think it needs a bit more liquid add a spot more stout.

4) Cover the bowl and leave overnight in a dry, cool place.

5) The next day pack the mixture into the lightly greased basin, cover it with a double sheet of silicone paper (baking parchment) and a sheet of foil and tie it securely with string.  Make sure you tie a piece of string across the top to make a handle.  N.B. Good Food online have a fabulous video showing you how to do this if it is your first time:


6) Place the pudding in a steamer set over a saucepan of simmering water and steam the pudding for 8 hours. Do make sure you keep a regular eye on the water underneath and top it up with boiling water from the kettle from time to time.

7) When the pudding is steamed let it get quite cold, then remove the steam papers and foil and replace them with some fresh ones or the lid if using a plastic pudding basin.

Now your Christmas pudding is all ready for Christmas Day. Keep it in a cool place away from the light, I use my coolest kitchen cupboard next to the mixing bowls!

For Christmas day: 

To Cook:

1) Place the Christmas pudding into a saucepan and fill about a third of the way up with boiling water.

2) Simmer for 2 – 2¼ hours. You’ll need to check the water from time to time and maybe top it up a bit.

To serve:

1) Remove the pudding from the saucepan and wrapping. Slide a palette knife all round the pudding, then turn it out on to a warmed plate.

You can add a festive flourish you could place a suitably sized sprig of holly on top or just ladle over cream or brandy butter – however you like it!  Super dooper yummy! 😀


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