Mary Berry's Christmas Pudding

Friday 20 November 2020

Mary Berry's Christmas Pudding

This coming Sunday in the UK is what is commonly  known as Stir-Up Sunday.  Stir-up Sunday is a term which has been used in the Anglican Church in the UK for the last Sunday before the season of Advent. 

It gets its name from the beginning of the collect for the day in the Book of Common Prayer, which begins with the words, "Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people".

Traditionally this has been the day each year that people make their Christmas Puddings!  Its time to pop on some Christmas Music and your apron and begin your Christmas prep for this year's festivities. 


Christmas is going to be a bit different for most people this year, but there is no reason why we can't still enjoy some of our traditional treats.  When it comes to Christmas Puddings, Mary Berry's Christmas Pudding is a recipe which I have made many, many times.  Like all of her recipes it is reliable and fool-proof! 

Mary Berry's Christmas Pudding 


Christmas (or Plum) Pudding is the traditional end to the British Christmas dinner. But what we think of as Christmas Pudding, is not what it was originally like!

Christmas pudding originated as a 14th century porridge called 'frumenty' that was made of beef and mutton with raisins, currants, prunes, wines and spices. This was quite liquidy, would need to be eaten with a spoon like a soup, and would have been a fasting meal during the preparations up to Christmas. 


The original I have to say does not sound very appealing! Needless to say it has changed an awful lot since then!  Thank goodness! 

Mary Berry's Christmas Pudding


Stir-up-Sunday is usually a family affair. Each family member is supposed to stir the mixture from East to West to honour the journey of the Magi. This ritual is also thought to bring the family luck and prosperity in the coming year.

At one time it was also customary to hide a number of small trinkets in the mixture, a bit like the twelfth night cake. These charms often included a silver coin (wealth), and a ring (future marriage). Woe betide the guest who stumbled across a thimble in their serving.  A future of Spinsterhood was a cert for them! Nowadays this generally isn't done, although my husband does remember his mom putting coins into theirs. 

Mary Berry's Christmas Pudding 

The fruit mixture of the pudding is usually a mix of dried figs, currants, raisins, golden raisins, cherries and candied ginger.  All are mixed together in a bowl the night before you go to make your pudding and a portion of brandy is poured over top and the fruit left to macerate in this overnight on the counter top.  A clean towel over top to keep it safe from dust and insects.  If you don't like to use alcohol, you can use orange juice in an equivalent amount. 

Mary Berry's recipe differs slightly in that there is no figs or ginger, and you have no need to soak the fruit overnight, which is a bonus! 

Mary Berry's Christmas Pudding 

I am all for time saving if I can, and if Mary Berry only soaks her fruit for an hour, that's good enough for me! Softened butter is creamed together with soft light brown sugar, orange zest, and ground  mixed spice. 

(You can easily make your own mixed spice: Combine 1 TBS ground cinnamon, 1 tsp each of ground coriander and nutmeg, 1/2 tsp of ground ginger, 1/4 tsp each of ground cloves and all spice. Mix well and store in an airtight container out of the light for up to 6 months.) 

Eggs also gets beaten into this, a bit at a time so it doesn't curdle. Don't worry if it does, you can always stir in a bit of the flour to fix this. 

Fresh soft bread crumbs are also a part of the mix, along with chopped blanched almonds and self rising flour. You can make your own self raising flour by adding 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder and 1/4 tsp of salt to every cup of plain flour needed. I always make my own, especially now during the time of Covid when I can't always access what I need. 

Mary Berry's Christmas Pudding

This mixture then gets added and stirred into the creamed  mixture to combine.  Make sure everyone gives it a stir and makes a wish. Don't forget East to West, just don't ask me which is which, lol!  

If you are putting trinkets in this is when you would do it.  I would wrap them in cling film first or waxed paper, and don't forget to warn any guests that they are there when it comes to eating! You don't want anyone to choke on a trinket! 

Mary Berry's Christmas Pudding 


The pudding basin is prepared by generously brushing it with melted butter and placing a round of baking paper in the bottom. 

Mary Berry's Christmas Pudding 

Pack the pudding mixture into the prepared pudding basin, smoothing the top out with the back of a wooden spoon.  

Once you've done this tap the bottom of the basin on the countertop a few times to settle and work out any air holes. 

Mary Berry's Christmas Pudding 

This next bit is the most complicated part of the pudding.  Creating the lid to wrap it in.  Lay a large piece of foil on the table, and top it with an equal sized piece of baking paper. You then make a pleat in the paper, bearing in mind that the baking paper will be the side against the pudding.  Butter the paper. 

Mary Berry's Christmas Pudding 

I fold them in half with the paper on the inside, and then, from about 2 inches down, I fold them back on themselves.  It should look like this on the paper side.

 Wrap this over the top of your pudding basin, leaving plenty of room for expansion, paper side towards the pudding.  Tie it tightly onto the bowl with some kitchen twine, bakers twine or even using a rubber band.  

 I use bakers twine and using a generous length,  after I have knotted it, I fashion a handle with the excess that I bring back over the top and secure on the opposite side.  This makes it easier to lift out of the pan when its done. 

Mary Berry's Christmas Pudding

Trim off the excess paper and foil so it looks nice and neat.  Now you can either steam this pudding in the top of a double boiler over boiling water, or you can boil it placed onto a trivet in a large saucepan with water in it. 

Just make sure the water doesn't come more than 3/4 of the way up the sides of the pudding and that the pudding basin doesn' t touch the bottom of the saucepan, or it might crack. 

Tightly covered, the saucepan is then put on a low heat and the pudding simmers away for about  4 1/2 hours.  Make sure you check it periodically and top it up with more boiling water as needed. You don't want it boiling dry.   

At the end of that time, remove the pudding basin and let it cool on a rack overnight.  Once it is cold you can remove the old wrappings and wrap it with clean new wrappings and then store it in a dark, cool and dry place until Christmas Day!  Instructions for re-heating are in the recipe. 

And there you have it a delicious Christmas Pudding, ready for the family to enjoy on Christmas Day! 

Mary Berry's Christmas Pudding

This is a pudding that actually tastes better upon standing, as it "ripens". I have kept some for over a year in the past and they were still fabulous!  

Whether you are only a few in number or many in number, this is a Christmas tradition that everyone enjoys!  Mary recommends serving hers with Brandy Butter. (I have included the recipe.) It is also very good with warm custard or ice cream, or even simple pouring cream.  Enjoy!  


Mary Berry's Christmas Pudding

Mary Berry's Christmas Pudding
Yield: 6 - 8
Author: Marie Rayner
prep time: 1 H & 15 Mcook time: 7 Hourtotal time: 8 H & 15 M
A traditional Christmas pudding courtesy of the great lady of British Cookery, Mary Berry herself.


For the pudding:
  • 1 pound (450g) dried mixed fruit (sultanas, raisins, glace cherries and chopped dried apricots)
  • 1 small cooking apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  • the grated rind of one medium orange
  • the juice of one medium orange
  • 3 TBS brandy (plus extra to flame)
  • 5 1/2 TBS butter, sofened, plus more to butter the pudding mold
  • 1/2 cup (100g) soft light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 3/4 cup (100g) self-rising flour
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 2/3 cup (40g) soft white bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup (40g) whole blanched almonds, roughly chopped
For the Brandy Butter:
  • scant 1/2 cup (100g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cup (8 ounces) sifted icing sugar
  • 3 TBS brandy
To flame:
  • 4 TBS brandy


  1. Measure all of the fruit into a bowl. Add the brandy and orange juice. Leave to macerate for about an hour.
  2. Cream the butter together with the orange zest and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, until thoroughly combined. If the mixture starts to curdle stir in a spoonful of the flour.
  3. Sift together the flour and mixed spice. Fold this into the creamed mixture along with the bread crumbs and nuts. Stir in the soaked fruit along with any juices. Mix well together.
  4. Generously butter a 2 1/2 pint (5 cup) pudding basin. Cut a piece of baking paper into a circle large enough to cover the bottom of the basin.
  5. Spoon the pudding batter into the basin, smoothing over the top with the back of a spoon.
  6. Have ready a large piece of baking paper and a sheet of foil. Place the paper on top of the foil, making a pleat across the middle to allow for expansion. Tie securely over top of the pudding with some kitchen string. Trim off any excess.
  7. To Steam: put the pudding in the top of a steamer filled with simmering water, cover with a lid and steam for eight hours, topping up the water as necessary.
  8. To Boil: put a metal jam jar lid, or metal pan lid, into the base of a large pan to act as a trivet. Place a long, doubled strip of foil in the pan, between the trivet and the pudding basin, ensuring the ends of the strip reach up and hang over the edges of the pan. This will help you to lift the heavy pudding basin out of the pan of hot water when it has finished cooking. Lower the pudding onto the trivet and pour in enough boiling water to come half way up the side of 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.
  9. Once cooked, remove the pudding from the pan. Remove and discard the paper and foil. Replace with fresh. Store, covered, in a dry cool place.
  10. On Christmas Day make the brandy butter by beaing the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the sifted icing sugar until smooth. Stir in the brandy and spoon into a serving dish. Cover and chill until needed.
  11. Steam or boil the pudding for about two hours to reheat. Turn onto a decorative, heat proof serving plate. To flame, warm the brandy or rum in a small saucepan. Pour it over the hot pudding and very carefuly set light to it with a match.
  12. Serve the pudding hot, spooned into bowls with a dab of brandy butter on top. Pouring cream goes very nicely with this.


To make your own mixed spice: Combine 1 TBS ground cinnamon, 1 tsp each of ground coriander and nutmeg, 1/2 tsp of ground ginger, 1/4 tsp each of ground cloves and all spice. Mix well and store in an airtight container out of the light for up to 6 months.

To make your own self-rising flour: You can make your own self raising flour by adding 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder and 1/4 tsp of salt to every cup of plain flour needed.

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You really cannot fault any of Mary Berry's recipes. If you follow them scrupulously, they always turn out and are fail proof! I have never had a failure with any of them! 


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  1. I used to love making Christmas cake and Christmas pudding and really miss the tradition after moving here. I did try for a couple of years, but sadly The English Shop where I used to buy dried fruit has gone out of business. It's these kinds of traditions that really kick start the festive season (though I have replaced it with more traditional Scandinavian baking these days).

    I could almost smell that lovely macerated fruit and those warm spices cooking away as I read the recipe. Mum always soaked her fruit overnight and we all took turns stirring the mix before it was packed in calico cloth, boiled then hung in the cellar until Christmas day. Then it was boiled again and served with a hot brandy based custard.

    Mary Berry recipes are always excellent, so I can imagine that this one makes a lovely pudding. And it's much less fuss than the way we used to do it.

    1. It is a lot less fuss than my regular one Marie. Mary knows how to simplify things without taking anything away from the end results. I expect it is all those years of experience that make the difference. I love how every country has its own traditions surrounding the holidays. Foods, etc. I find it all very fascinating! Love and hugs, xoxo

  2. Stir Up Sunday, delightful and delicious! Mary and you, talented and charming.
    Thank you, V

  3. I have been thinking of making a pud again this year and have been looking at recipes. You have reminded me that we put a coin in ours. I do like your way of tieing it up too so you can remove it easily. I shall try your recipe
    Hope you are having a merry reunion

    1. I hope you enjoy it! It’s hard not to love a Mary Berry recipe! Xoxo

  4. I have always been curious about English Christmas pudding. I would love to try some, but know I would not have the patience to do this in order to just sample it....even if I could find the fruit mix. I am trying to just talk myself into making fruitcake as I am the only one who will go near it LOL. But thanks for is, indeed, interesting. ~Robin~

    1. That’s too bad! It’s a really tasty pudding. Minimal effort, but yes, a lengthy cook time! Xoxo


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