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Mississippi Food Culture Spotlight: Classic English Christmas Pudding

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

By Carol D. Andersen

This recipe is a classic English steamed “Christmas pudding” – what Americans would call “dessert” – usually with a soft texture like custard. While “pudding” can be steamed, baked, or boiled, it is almost always a homely or rustic dish, while the English consider a “dessert” a lighter and more sophisticated offering such as chocolate mousse.

Feel free to change up the fruit to your favorites and/or add nuts in place of some of the fruit. The whiskey adds a lovely flavor, but substitute rum if you prefer, or omit altogether. I make it for holidays or whenever my English husband Tony is feeling homesick for his native London.

English Christmas pudding


  • 2 cups shredded suet (or Crisco)

  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 4 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2-1/4 cups fresh breadcrumbs

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • small can crushed pineapple, drained

  • 4 eggs, beaten

  • zest and juice of 1 lemon

  • 1-1/2 cups golden syrup (recipe at bottom), warmed*

  • 2-3 Tablespoons rum or whiskey (optional)

  • a little milk

  • 2-2/3 cups raisins**

  • 2-2/3 cups currants

  • 2-2/3 cups sultanas or golden raisins

  • 8 oz. candied mixed peel


  1. Combine the suet, flour, baking powder, salt, brown sugar, nutmeg and breadcrumbs in a bowl.

  2. Stir in the crushed pineapple, beaten eggs, lemon zest and juice and mix well.

  3. Add syrup and whiskey and mix thoroughly.

  4. Add a splash of milk and mix again.

  5. Add in all the fruit - mix well to combine.

  6. Put into a greased 4 cup (1 liter) pudding basin (see note at bottom), seal with a double thickness of aluminum foil, and tie with a string to make a handle.

  7. Steam in a pudding steamer for 6 hours.

  8. Turn out onto a serving dish.

  9. Serve warm with freshly whipped cream or crème Anglaise.

*Golden syrup is also called "light treacle." If you cannot find it, you may substitute maple syrup, honey, dark or light corn syrup in this recipe. Or, see the recipe below for a simple 3-ingredient recipe for golden syrup will will keep at room temperature for months.

**Raisins, sultanas (also called golden raisins) and currants are three different varieties of dried grapes.


Don’t have a pudding basin?

Use a Pyrex bowl or any deep glass or ceramic bowl with a lip.

Don't have a pudding steamer?

You can also improvise a steamer. Take a large pot (such as a spaghetti cooking pot) and put a metal trivet or heatproof plate in the bottom so the pudding basin won’t touch the bottom. Fill the pot partway with water. Using the string handle, gently lower the pudding basin in the water to rest on the trivet; the water should reach about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way up the bowl. Put on the lid. Over medium heat, bring the water to a gentle simmer. Cook according to the recipe. Check frequently and as necessary, add more boiling water to keep the water level high enough to replace what has evaporated. NOTE this should be a gentle simmer, not a full rolling boil, to steam the pudding (not boil it). Once the pudding is done, lift out of the hot water using the string or heatproof oven mitts.


Easy 3-Ingredient Golden Syrup Ingredients:

  • 1-1/4 cups water

  • 4 cups sugar

  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice


  1. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and stir to combine.

  2. Bring it to a boil, stirring regularly to prevent burning until the sugar is dissolved. Stir very gently to prevent sugar water from splashing up the sides of the saucepan.

  3. Once boiling, gently stir in the lemon juice.

  4. Reduce the heat to a very low and gentle simmer and leave the saucepan uncovered. DO NOT STIR the syrup again. Let it simmer on very low for 40-60 minutes or longer until the syrup is a rich amber color. If you’re using a thermometer, the temperature should be about 240-250 degrees F. Be patient – the rich, caramelly and buttery flavors develop over time.

  5. (Note: If your syrup is too thick and stiff you can reheat it, adding a little bit of water. If your syrup is too runny then you need to let the syrup caramelize longer.)

  6. Turn off the heat, let it sit for a few minutes, then pour the hot syrup into a glass jar and let it cool completely before storing at room temperature in a jar with tight sealing lid.

  7. Golden syrup can be substituted for any liquid sweetener, especially in recipes that calls for light or dark corn syrup. With its deep caramelly, buttery notes, try it in your next pecan pie for a whole new flavor sensation!


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