In Chef's Table

Sunday 20 November is ‘Stir-up Sunday’, the traditional day when the whole family gets together to make a Christmas pudding. Making your own Christmas pudding is such a simple thing to do and once you’ve given it a try you’ll never return back to a shop bought one.

Have it your way with extra fruit, nuts, or booze if you want to push the boat out or just follow my easy recipe. Then stir it up (East to West if you want to follow tradition – the route of the three-wise men), make a wish, and get set for a Christmas table centre piece that’ll wow your guests and will definitely be worth leaving that extra bit of space for!


  • 150g currants
  • 150g sultanas
  • 75g raisins
  • 25g candied peel
  • 150g chopped prunes
  • 100ml brandy
  • 100g plain flour
  • 125g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 150g suet or veg suet
  • 150g muscavado sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Zest of ½ lemon and ½ an orange
  • 1 cooking apple, peels and chopped
  • 150ml stout or dark ale
  • 50g blanched almonds
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs

You will also require a 1.7ltr pudding bowl


Soak the currants, sultanas, raisins and chopped prunes in brandy overnight.

In a large mixing bowl put in suet, sugar, spices, salt, candied peel, almonds and breadcrumbs and mix well. Add in soaked fruit, zests and chopped apple continuing to mix all ingredients.

In a separate bowl add stout and eggs and whisk together lightly, pour over other ingredients and mix well.

Cover the bowl and leave overnight.

The following day sift the flour and baking powder and stir into the mixture. Grease your pudding bowl thoroughly with butter and pack in mixture quite firmly. Cover with two layers of baking parchment and a double layer of foil both pleated in the middle then tie tightly around the lip of the bowl with string. Place in a steamer filled with simmering water and steam for 6 hours – be careful to keep a close eye on the water to ensure the pan does not run dry.

Cool the pudding well, change the parchment and foil and store in a cool dark place until…

Christmas Day

On Christmas day steam for 2 – 2½ hours before pouring over brandy and setting alight. Serve with brandy butter, cream, custard or ice cream.

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