You know that when you are looking for a fail safe traditional Christmas recipe that you can put your trust in Mary Berry. We liked the sound of this one, but time is of the essence! Get your Christmas skates on as this recipe requires the pudding made on ‘Stir-up Sunday’, which falls six weeks before Rudolph and his chums draw Santa’s sleigh over the rooftops.

But fear not – the pudding can be made any time in the next week.


75g (3 oz) butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

450g (1 lb) dried fruit (use a mixture of sultanas, raisins and snipped apricots)

1 small cooking apple, peeled, cored and roughly chopped (about 175g/6 oz)

finely grated rind and juice of 1 orange

50ml (2 fl oz) brandy or rum, plus extra for feeding and flaming

100g (4 oz) light muscovado sugar

2 eggs

100g (4 oz) self-raising flour

1 level teaspoon ground mixed spice

40g (1½ oz) fresh white breadcrumbs

40g (1½ oz) whole shelled almonds, roughly chopped


  1. Lightly butter a 1.4 litre (2½ pint) pudding basin. Cut a small square of foil and press into the base of the basin.
  2. Measure the sultanas, raisins, apricots and apple into a bowl with the orange juice. Add the brandy or rum to marinate for about one hour.
  3. Put the butter, sugar and grated orange rind into a large bowl and cream together with a wooden spoon or hand-held electric whisk until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a little flour if the mixture starts to curdle.
  4. Sift together the flour and mixed spice, then fold into the creamed mixture with the breadcrumbs and the nuts. Add the dried fruits, apple and liquid and stir well.
  5. Spoon into the prepared pudding basin, pressing the mixture down, and level the top with the back of a spoon. Cover the pudding with a layer of greaseproof paper and foil, both pleated across the middle to allow for expansion. Tie securely with string and trim off excess paper and foil with scissors.
  6. To steam, put the pudding in the top of a steamer filled with simmering water, cover with a lid and steam for about eight hours, topping up the water as necessary. To boil the pudding, put a metal jam-jar lid into the base of a large pan to act as a trivet. Put the pudding on to this and pour in enough boiling water to come one-third of the way up the bowl. Cover with a lid, bring the water back to the boil, then simmer for about seven hours, until the pudding is a glorious deep brown colour, topping up the water as necessary.
  7. Remove the pudding and cool completely. Make holes in the pudding with a fine skewer and pour in a little more brandy or rum to feed. Discard the paper and foil and replace with fresh. Store in a cool, dry place.
  8. On Christmas Day, steam or boil the pudding for about an hour to reheat. Turn the pudding on to a serving plate. To flame, warm 3–4 tablespoons brandy or rum in a small pan, pour it over the hot pudding and set light to it. Serve with Rum Sauce, Boozy Cream or Brandy Butter.

Looking after your pud

  1. As it does take a fair time to steam, make things easier for yourself by preparing the pudding up to the end of step 4 the day before. Keep the pudding in a cool place overnight, and steam as directed the next day.
  2. Cover the cold pudding with fresh greaseproof paper and foil and store in a cool place until Christmas. You can also freeze Christmas pudding, but allow it to mature for a month before freezing to develop the flavours.
  3. It is quite useful to use a see-through bowl for the pudding as you can then check the colour as it is cooking. Any leftover Christmas pudding can be wrapped in foil and reheated in a medium oven for about 30 minutes.

On the day

To cook, bring to the boil on the boiling plate, cover with a lid and transfer to the Simmering Oven for about 12 hours. To reheat, tightly wrap the cooked pudding, in its bowl, in a double layer of foil and sit it next to the turkey in the simmering oven, from early morning. Leave it for several hours and it will slowly reheat and be piping hot at the end of the meal.