Light Christmas Pudding

It will look prettier on the Big Day on a Christmas Plate!

With the forthcoming arrival of my parents, I´m getting into the swing of Christmas food preparations.  Traditional Christmas cakes and puddings in the UK can be made ages ahead of time (even a year) to allow them to mature.  Of course, I am nowhere near as organised as all that, and none of us is mad keen on the heavier traditional pudding.

For many years I have made a lighter version based on a recipe from my trusty Delia Smith´s Christmas Cookbook.  In fact, looking back, I made it the first year I was in sole charge of Christmas lunch for 10 people.  My beloved grandfather had died in the November, and this was 21 years ago.  Of course, we were all still in a state of shock and sadness, especially my darling grandmother, but we still wanted to celebrate.  I lived up the road from my parents in a little flat, and it was decided that we would change things a little so that memories of sitting in my parents´ dining room with Grandad at the head of the table would be a little less vivid.

My parents cooked the turkey in their oven as I just didn´t have room, but everything else was done in my little kitchen.  All my wobbly hand me down tables and chairs were pressed into service, and the family walked up the road carrying girft and fold up chairs.  Plates were borrowed – I was a 25 year old in her first flat as a non sharer, so I was still building my collection.  Tears were shed, but much there was fun and laughter too.  It was emotional but happy and we all ate and drank far too much.  The meal ended with this pudding – made initially as my grandfather would probably have grumbled about there not being “proper” pudding and this made us all chuckle.  Since then it´s become a new kind of family tradition whenever I am the Christmas lunch fairy, and my parents requested it this year.

I haven´t changed the recipe much at all, so I hope Saint Delia won´t mind.  It can be frozen once made, and then warmed through in a steamer or Bain Marie on Christmas Day while you are eating lunch.


  • 175g sifted self raising flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 110g softened butter
  • 110g brown sugar
  • 1 medium apple chopped or grated
  • 2 large eggs beaten gently
  • 3 rounded tablespoons of mincemeat
  • 2 pinches ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Grated zest of one lemon and one orange
  • 2 large tbsp of candied peel

Put half the peel in the base of a 1.2 litre buttered pudding basin. Beat the butter and sugar until creamy and then add 1tbsp of egg and flour and mix in, continuing until both egg and flour have all been incorporated.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir in, then spoon the mixture into the basin.

Cover with a double layer of pleated foil and tie a string around to keep the foil tight and give yourself a handle to lift it out.

Mucky Cooker – oops, don´t let it boil over!

Place it in a steamer or saucepan half filled with boiling water and steam gently covered with a lid for 2 ½ hours.  Keep a kettle of boiling water to hand to top up the water when needed.

When the time is up, let it cool completely and you can then turn it out and wrap well in cling film to freeze until needed.  If making ahead and reheating on Christmas Day, slide it back into the pudding basin and cover again with foil to do this.

Delicious with custard or brandy sauce, boozy fruits, ice cream….whatever takes your fancy!

PS. Stir Up Sunday (the last Sunday before Advent) is when Christmas Puddings were traditionally made to allow them to mature.  Of course, I missed that date, but never mind!  I was also always told that every member of the family needed to give the cake or pudding a stir and make a wish – so we did this too…


44 thoughts on “Light Christmas Pudding

  1. This is so interesting, I didn’t know the tradition behind the pudding and I love the “stir and make a wish” idea… very meaningful at Christmas. This looks like a nice light pudding, similar to the kind my Gran used to make. Wishing you a Merry Christmas with your family this year! Will it be at your house?

    1. I love all the traditions related to Christmas and it´s always in interesting to learn about new ones. Yes, this is certainly much lighter than the “other” Christmas Pudding – so you can enjoy lots of other little treats with it 🙂 Thank you for your good wishes – we´ll be at our home in Spain celebrating with my parents…I´m very, very excited!

  2. Another Old-fashioned tradition that I’ve always wanted to try… Delia’s recipes seem so approachable, too. I’ve read them in the online versions of the London newspapers…

    How far up the sides of the pudding should the water come once it’s placed in the bain-marie?

    1. I agree with you re Delia´s recipes! If you do it in a bain marie, I´d suggest putting some scrunched up tin foil under the pudding basin and making a little “nest” for it to sit in so that it doesn´t bob around and make an awful clatter and pour in enough water to bring it about half way up the bowl. That way it can cook for half an hour or so before it needs topping up. Another way to do it (I´ve done this before I had a steamer) Is to sit a metal colander inside a wide saucepan, then put the pudding in that and cover the pudding and colander (including the side with the holes if they come above the edge of the saucepan) with foil and create your own home made steamer. Hope that helps!

  3. I have started my boozy fruits!! I am going to add apple and brown sugar to my next pudding, i like that, this does look yummy. i especially enjoyed you mention of your own wobbly hand me down chairs! Mine are always like that!! It is a family joke! c

    1. Looks like the boozy fruits were popular – probably not a good idea if anyone is driving though 🙂 Glad you liked the recipe, we really enjoy it. And I think if most of us are honest, we all have a few wobbly chairs lurking in garages/sheds/barns!! Always make sure you give them to the biggest, fattest member of the family…. 😉

  4. Your Christmas pudding sounds delicious. I make a homemade fruitcake with orange peel and lots of nuts but have never tried a steamed pudding.

  5. I’ve always been a bit intimidated by the concept of steamed puddings. Not the “eating of”, you understand, but the “making of”. This looks awfully tempting, though… can I swap you a bite for some deer stew? 😉 Mmmm…

  6. Love knowing the tradition behind the puddin’. And how beautifully you’re weaving the (pigless) mincemeat, the boozy fruits and now the pudd into your family Christmas tale. These things that grow to be traditions add such richness to our lives, don’t they?! Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. I am a total fan of family Christmases – probably because I have so many wonderful ones to look back on! And those traditions are great. Forgot to mention putting a silver sixpence in the pud (not that we have that coin anymore)!

  7. This Christmas Pudding recipe, along with Celi’s recipe for Plum Pudding, are the first recipes I’ve seen for these “puddings”. They just weren’t a part of our family tradition — but they sure do look good!

    (Pssst … there’s a typo. Surely you meant to write that you were “… a precocious 5-year-old in her first flat as a non sharer … “. The math works out better this way. Merry Christmas!)

    1. I wish it was a you all know how old I am! Of course, I look completely fabulous and often get asked for ID when I buy alcohol… 😉

      And as for those puddings – the Brits, the Aussies, the Kiwis…we were all bought up on them and have a fond nostalgia at this time of year for desserts that everyone is way too full up to eat by the time you get to the end of the meal!

  8. These holiday memories all bring a tear and a smile to my face! I’m glad you’ve shared your touching memories, life is so short and precious we all need to gather round, eat and toast to life! I’ve never made a pudding as such; I like your lightened version and will have to give it a try!!

    1. Me too – I get all emotional reading stories on other blogs and emotional listening to carols and recalling memories as I write mine. That´s life I guess – the good and the bad, but hopefully mostly good and happy memories. Glad you liked the pud!

  9. I’m so impressed, this looks fabulous! What wonderful memories. And what better way to celebrate Christmas than indulging in this pudding!? 🙂

  10. Looks great! I have never tried a steamed pudding before, but I think I need to now! I love that you can freeze it after baking to eat later…perfect for a busy Christmas morning!

  11. Wow! Nice tip about foil under the basin too 😉

    I went to stay with my grandmother for Christmas (when I was about 19), after my grandfather died. I was cooking the turkey.
    Having been out drinking on Christmas Eve with friends, my grandmother insisted on waking me up at about 4 in the morning (I’d been in bed for about 2 hours) because she wanted her lunch at 1pm! I hadn’t realised that she be quite such a stickler for time on Christmas Day – I was thinking more of 4pm…
    In spite of the painful hangover, I’m glad I got up and cooked.

    1. Ah…and I bet she remembered what you did as something very special. People like to maintain tradition to celebrate memories. And make new tradition to create new memories. And she probably wanted to make you suffer for staying out drinking too!

  12. People really plan that far ahead and cook a year ahead of time. Oh man, they would hate me. I am a horrible planner, especially when it comes to cooking. I think I’m having frozen pizza tonight…or maybe I’ll treat myself and get some take away.

    Looks fantastic as always!

    1. Well…some people. If I did that I´d only forget where I´d put it and come across something nasty a year or two later lurking at the back of a cupboard! How I miss take away 🙂 Have a curry for me!

I love to hear what you think, please leave me a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s