Traditional Christmas Plum Pudding

​By Chef Candice Adams

Serves: 8-10



150 g currants

150 g sultanas

150 g roughly chopped prunes

175 ml sherry

100 g cake flour

125 g breadcrumbs

150 g butter

150 g muscovado sugar (treacle can be substituted)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground cloves

1 tsp baking powder

Zest of 1 lemon

3 large eggs

1 medium apple (peeled and grated)

2 Tbsp honey

125 ml brandy (to flame the pudding)




You will need a 2 litre heatproof pudding basin / mould with a lid.

But it wouldn't be out of the question – and it would certainly be in the spirit of the season – to make up the entire quantity of mixture, and share between smaller moulds to gift to loved ones.


Three to five hours' steaming both first and second time around should do it; keep the one pudding for yourself, and give the other to a loved one, after it's had its first steaming, and is cool, with the steaming instructions for Christmas Day.


  1. Put the currants, sultanas and chopped prunes into a bowl with the sherry, swirl the bowl a bit, then cover with cling film and leave to steep overnight or for up to 1 week.

  2. When the fruits have had their steeping time, put a large pan of water on to boil, or heat some water in a conventional steamer, and butter your heatproof pudding basin (or basins), remembering to grease the lid, too.

  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the remaining pudding ingredients (except the brandy), either in the traditional manner or just any old how; your chosen method of stirring, and who does it, probably won't affect the outcome of your wishes or your Christmas.

  4. Add the steeped fruits, scraping in every last drop of the sherry too, and mix to combine thoroughly, then fold in some coins (clean in cola – it does an amazing job) or heirloom charms. If you are at all frightened about choking-induced fatalities at the table, you can leave out the hardware.

  5. Scrape and press the mixture into the prepared pudding basin, squish it down and put on the lid. Then wrap with a layer of foil, so that the basin is watertight, then either put the basin in the pan of boiling water (to come halfway up the basin) or in the top of a lidded steamer. Steam for 3 to 5 hours, checking every now and again that the water hasn't boiled away.

  6. Remove gingerly and, when manageable, unwrap the foil, and put the pudding in its mould somewhere out of the way in the kitchen, until Christmas Day.

  7. On the big day, rewrap the pudding (still in its mould) in foil and steam again, this time for 3 hours. Eight hours combined cooking time might seem slight overkill, but it's not as if you need to do anything to it in that time. (wink wink)

  8. To serve, remove from the pan or steamer, take off the lid, put a plate on top, turn it upside down and give the mould a little squeeze to help unmould the pudding - and voilà.

  9. Put a sprig of fresh rosemary (not dried) on top of the pudding – as in South Africa real holly is invariably not available, then heat the brandy in a small pan and the minute it's hot, but before it boils, turn off the heat, strike a match, stand back and light the pan of brandy, then pour the flaming brandy over the pudding and take it as fast as you safely can to your guests. If it feels less dangerous to you, pour the hot brandy over the pudding and then light the pudding.

  10. In either case, serve with crème anglaise (custard) or with ice cream – homemade is always best. A rosemary and olive oil infused ice-cream is an absolute delight with this pud. 


    Left overs can be shallow fried in butter and eaten with a generous scoop of ice cream as a spin on French toast – a very appropriate meal applicable to any meal time over the festive season. Yum!


    Don't choke on the coins and luck be to those who find them!