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Traditional Christmas Pudding Recipe by Margaret M. Johnson with Wine Pairing

The original figgy pudding, created sometime in the 1400s, was a dish of dried figs, dates, raisins, and spices boiled in almond milk. Also called plum pudding – despite the fact it contains no plums whatsoever – this steamed or boiled pudding was first recorded as Christmas Pudding in 1858 in a novel by British author Anthony Trollope.

The name is probably derived from the substitution of raisins for dried plums as an ingredient in pies during medieval times. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, dishes made with raisins retained the term “plum,” and in the Victorian era, Christmas plum puddings became a well-loved dessert. Curiously, plum pudding was a latecomer to Ireland, but it caught on quickly and today it is one of the best-loved Christmas desserts.

This recipe, originally published in Christmas Flavors of Ireland, is almost always served with Brandy Butter, also called brandy hard sauce. It has just been republished in Favorite Flavors of Ireland.

Serves 10-12


1 cup/150 g sultanas (golden raisins)
1 cup/150 g currants
¼ cup/30 g chopped dried fruit, such as cranberries, raisins, and figs
¼ cup/30 g chopped dried apricots
¼ cup/30 g candied cherries, halved
¼ cup/30 g candied mixed peel
⅓ cup/75 ml brandy or dark rum o Juice and grated zest of 1 orange
8 tbsp. Unsalted Kerrygold Irish butter, at room temperature
½ cup/115 g (packed) dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
¼ cup/30 g chopped crystallized ginger
1 apple, peeled, cored, and grated
1¼ cups/150g all-purpose flour
1 cup/115 g white bread crumbs
1 tsp. Mixed Spice or pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. Ground cinnamon


1. Combine the fruits, candied cherries, and mixed peel in a large glass jar or bowl.
2. Add the brandy or rum, orange zest and juice, and then cover; let stand at room temperature overnight.
3. Butter a 6-cup/1.5 L pudding mould or deep, heatproof bowl and place a round of wax paper on the bottom.
4. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs.
5. Stir in the soaked fruits, ginger, apple, flour, bread crumbs, mixed spice, and cinnamon.
6. Spoon the batter into the prepared mould and smooth the top.
7. Cover with a double piece of buttered wax paper and a double piece of aluminium foil. Fold together and make a pleat in the centre (to allow for the pudding to expand). Tie the paper and foil in place with kitchen twine.
8. Place the mould in a large saucepan or Dutch oven fitted with a rack, or put a folded kitchen towel on the bottom of the pot to prevent direct contact with the bottom of the pot.
9. Add enough hot water to the pot to come halfway up the sides of the mould or dish. Cover and steam on medium-low heat for 2–2½ hours, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. (Check the water level once or twice during cooking and add more water when necessary.)
10. Carefully remove the pudding mould from the pot. Remove the foil and parchment, and run a metal spatula around the sides to loosen. Place a serving plate over the mould and invert.
11. Slice and serve warm with brandy butter or sauce.
12. If not serving immediately, let the pudding cool, covered, in the mould. When completely cool, unmould, wrap in plastic wrap, then aluminium foil. Refrigerate the pudding for up to one week or freeze. To serve, put the pudding back into its mould, cover with waxed paper or foil, and steam for 1 hour, as above, or until heated through. Thaw frozen pudding before reheating as above.

Brandy Butter


8 tbsp. Unsalted Kerrygold Irish butter, at room temperature
1¼ cups/175 g confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tbsp. Brandy


1. In a small bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on medium until light and fluffy.
2. Add the brandy and beat until smooth.
3. Transfer to a small bowl or crock, cover, and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
4. Return to room temperature before serving. (Makes about ½ cup/115 g)

Product of the Lodge Kitchen at Doonbeg.


Our recommended Wine Pairing for this Recipe
Gérard Bertrand Rivesaltes Vin doux naturel 1989 €27.99 now €23.99
This wine has a stunning nose, you will almost forget to sip it. It has tawny like characteristics on the nose (think dried tea). It has aromas of dried fruits such as figs and prunes with a nutty hints such as hazelnuts. There are some dried floral touches too along with some earthy tones and hints of dried orange rind. This wine has such a complex nose.

All the beautiful aromas flow onto the palate with a silky smooth body. This wine is medium bodied and although it has sweetness it is not cloying, it has high acidity and low tannin so as to balance the autumnal and dried fruits such as apricots and prunes. The walnut and dry forest floor tones give this wine even more depth.

This is a fortified wine that will pair well with this moist spicy pudding. The deep flavours from the pudding and the wine will marry to give you a sumptuous dessert.

Available from O’Brien’s Wines Nationwide or Online.


MargaretMargaret M. Johnson is an American author who has devoted her career to Irish cuisine. Her love for Ireland has produced several cookbooks dedicated to promoting traditional and modern Irish recipes and produce including: Christmas Flavors of Ireland (2013), Flavors of Ireland (2012); The Irish Pub Cookbook (2006); The Irish Spirit (2005); The New Irish Table (2003); The Irish Heritage Cookbook (1999); Cooking With Irish Spirits (1995).

In tribute to her thirty year love affair with Ireland her latest collection is entitled ‘Favorite Flavors of Ireland’ and is a retrospective, looking back at her most loved dishes. Perfect for food lovers at home and abroad, Margaret’s book is a veritable tour of the country, taking you on a journey through the seasons. Read more about Margarets love for Ireland here.

Margaret M. Johnson Margaret M. Johnson
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