English plum pudding is a traditional Christmas dessert made with dried fruit and served with hard sauce. It’s an impressive sweet treat the whole family will love. Best of all, it’s easy to make ahead and enjoy on Christmas Day.
For the Fruit
- 1 cup raisins (150g)
- 3/4 cup currants (100g)
- 2/3 cup golden raisins (100g)
- 1/2 cup prunes, chopped (75g)
- 1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped (75g)
- 1 1/4 cup Golden Delicious apple, peeled and diced (about 1 large apple; 150g)
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (59 ml)
- 3 tablespoons brandy (45 ml)
For the Cake Batter
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (115g)
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed (150g)
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour (75g)
- 1/2 cup plain panko breadcrumbs (40g)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice
- 1/4 cup blanched almonds, chopped (40g)
Preparing the Fruit Mixture (15 minutes + 1 hour soaking)
- Chop the prunes and apricots into smaller pieces and place in a large bowl. Peel, core, and dice the apple. Zest and juice a large navel orange.
- Stir together the raisins, currants, golden raisins, prunes, apricots, apple, orange juice, and brandy until well mixed. Cover and let stand for at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally. The fruit will soak up the liquid and become moist and juicy.
Preparing the Pudding Basin & Cover (5 minutes)
- While the fruit is soaking, generously grease a 1.5-liter (6 1/3 cup) basin with butter, and line the base with a circle of parchment paper.
- Cut a sheet of parchment paper and a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to cover the top of the basin with a couple inches to spare all the way around. Lightly butter the parchment, then make a one inch pleat in the center of the paper. This will allow the paper to expand as the pudding rises.
Making the Cake Batter (15 minutes)
- Beat the butter in a large mixing bowl with a handheld electric mixer until lightened in color, about 2 minutes. Add the brown sugar and beat until fluffy.
- Mix in the molasses and orange zest, then add the eggs one at a time, putting a tablespoon of the flour with each egg. Beat until well blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Fold in the flour, breadcrumbs, baking powder, and mixed spice until smooth and free from streaks and lumps of unincorporated ingredients.
- Stir in the almonds and the bowl of soaked fruit, along with any liquid that might be in the bowl. Mix thoroughly until the fruit is evenly distributed, then pack the batter into the prepared basin.
Steaming the Pudding (5 minutes + 4 hours cooking)
- Bring a large kettle of water to boil.
- Meanwhile, lay the parchment paper greased side down over the basin, then lay the foil on top. Press the covering under the lip of the bowl, then tie it securely just under the lip with strong kitchen twine.
- Trim off the excess so there’s two inches of foil all the way around, then roll up the foil to seal the edges. Tie an extra piece of twine across the top to make a handle.
- Place a sturdy jam jar lid or heatproof saucer in the bottom of a large Dutch oven. Stand the basin on top of the lid and pour the boiling water around the basin. The water level should come halfway up the sides of the basin.
- Cover the pot and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 4 hours. Add more boiling water as needed. The pudding is done when it’s a rich dark brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Remove the cover and let the pudding cool completely in the basin. Cover it with a fresh piece of parchment and foil and store it in a cool place for at least 4 weeks before serving.
- Reheat by steaming it again for 1 1/2-2 hours. If desired, flame the pudding with additional brandy, garnish with a sprig of holly, and serve with brandy butter.
- Be sure to soak the fruit before you use it. This step adds additional flavor.
- Change up the dried fruits as you desire. For example, swap out the prunes and apricots for dates, figs, or dried cranberries. Just make sure the total weight of all the fruits adds up to 1 lb 1 oz or 500g.
- Steam it for 8 hours. This time is crucial to caramelize the sugars, making the pudding a darker brown and giving it a richer flavor.
- Make sure it ages for at least 4 weeks before serving. It needs the time for the flavors to mature. (As long as it’s stored in a cool, dark place, it shouldn’t go moldy or spoil. The alcohol and the sugar from the dried fruit can preserve it for well over a year.)
- If you want to freeze this, let it age before freezing it. The cold air of the freezer halts the maturing process.
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Boiled
- Cuisine: British
Keywords: easy, recipe, traditional