Traditional Irish Christmas Plum Pudding has had humble beginnings. Plum pudding was originally a porridge flavored with scraps of meat or fish, thickened with bread crumbs, and bound together with eggs, fruit, and spices. During the Tudor and Stuart period, dried prunes were added to the pudding which became known as plum porridge.

What kind of desserts do Irish people eat on Christmas?

Depending on who you ask, Irish Christmas Pudding can be described as a classic fruit cake or rum cake made with a combination of various fruits, spices, brandy, Irish whiskey, and even coins. It has a dark, almost chocolate-like appearance, but when you taste it, you'll find that it's rich, strong, and fragrant. Both the cake itself and the act of preparing it are steeped in tradition and folklore.

Today it is simply known as Christmas Plum Pudding. Although Plum Pudding is not the type of food generally thought of as a pudding today by commercial standards. It is exactly what one would expect of a traditional old-fashioned Irish pudding. Plum Pudding drizzled with Brandy Butter is the essence of Christmas in Ireland and is delicious served with a fresh cream sauce or Brandy Butter.

What kinds of ingredients are often used in a Christmas pudding?

A traditional Christmas pudding should include 13 components, one for each of Jesus, his 12 followers, and the cook. These components have traditionally been included in the recipe: raisins, currants, suet, brown sugar, breadcrumbs, citron, lemon peel, orange peel, flour, mixed spices, eggs, milk, and brandy.

Figgy pudding also known as plum pudding or Christmas pudding is a staple of the Irish Christmas table.

What is the significance of a coin or trinket being tucked away in a Christmas pudding?

People have a strong belief that if they find a penny in their Christmas pudding, it will bring them good luck and especially money the next year. This delightful custom may have its origins as far back as the 1300s when a dried pea or occasionally a little silver ring or crown was baked into a Twelfth Night Cake. The pea or ring or crown was thought to bring good luck to the household.

Why are there no plums in the plum pudding?

The intriguing thing about plum pudding is that it does not really include any plums. This is a throwback to the technique that was common in Victorian times, which was to replace dried plums with other types of dried fruits, such as raisins. Because of their widespread use, dried plums and prunes were commonly referred to as "plum cakes" and "plum puddings," respectively, when they were used in baked dishes.


Easy Christmas Pudding Recipe

A classic light spiced Christmas pudding - so simple you don't even need any kitchen scales


  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup sultanas
  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 1 cup finely grated butter (about 115g/4oz)
  • 1 cup fresh brown breadcrumbs (from around 4 thick slices of bread)
  • 1 cup light muscovado sugar
  • 1 cup mixed nuts, chopped plus extra to decorate
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • butter, for greasing

For the butterscotch sauce

  • 85g butter
  • 100g light muscovado sugar
  • 200ml double cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  • STEP 1

    For the pudding, empty the first six cups and the nuts, if using, into a mixing bowl with the spices, then stir in the milk and egg. Once well combined, tip into a buttered 1.5 liter pudding bowl.

  • STEP 2

    Cover with a double layer of buttered foil, making a pleat in the center to allow the pudding to rise. Tie the foil securely with string, then place in a steamer or large pan containing enough gently simmering water to come halfway up the sides of the bowl. Steam, covered with a lid, for 2½ hours. Check the water level during cooking, topping up if necessary. If you are preparing this pudding ahead, remove the foil, let it cool slightly, then wrap it in cling film and then fresh foil. If you are serving it immediately, unwrap and invert it onto a deep plate.

  • STEP 3

    For the sauce, put everything in a pan and bring slowly to a boil, stirring. Allow to bubble away for 2-3 minutes, still stirring, until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce is pale caramel in color and slightly thickened. Remove from the heat. Pour the sauce over the pudding and decorate it with the whole mixed nuts.

Christmas Pudding RECIPE TIPS


The pudding can be made 2-3 weeks in advance and frozen in the bowl - thaw it completely before reheating. It can also be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated. Just make sure you bring it to room temperature for an hour or so before reheating. The sauce can also be made a day ahead and kept in the fridge - simply reheat it in a small pan over low heat. To reheat the pudding, cover with fresh foil and steam for 1 1/2 hours, or cover with cling film and microwave on High for 7 minutes.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, December 2003


Irish Christmas Plum Pudding Serving Ideas...

Nutmeg Sauce

2/3 cup sugar*
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add boiling water and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes until ingredients are well blended.

Brandy Butter

4 tbsp softened, unsalted butter
1/2 cup superfine sugar
3 tbsp brandy
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and beat with an electric beater until smooth and well-blended. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until firm. Brandy Butter may be sprinkled with nutmeg before serving.