Downton Abbey Christmas Pudding with Brandy Butter Hard Sauce

This recipe is from the wonderful new book, “A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey: Seasonal Celebrations, Traditions, and Recipes”

No Christmas at Downton Abbey would be complete without plum pudding, as it is also known (somewhat confusingly, it does not contain any plums – this was a pre-Victorian word for raisins).

Makes 1 large pudding to serve 8-10

For the pudding:

1 cup white breadcrumbs

½ cup self-rising flour

½ cup chopped suet

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1 cup soft dark brown sugar

1 ½ cups raisins

1 ½ cups golden raisins

3 tablespoons mixed peel or finely chopped dried apricots

3 tablespoons sliced almonds

1 small apple, coarsely grated

Zest of 1 lemon

Zest of 1 orange

2 eggs

2/3 cup Guinness or stout

2 tablespoons brandy (plus extra for setting the pudding aflame)

Butter, for greasing




For the brandy butter hard sauce:

2 sticks plus two tablespoons

unsalted butter, softened

1 1/3 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 tablespoons brandy

Place all the dry ingredients, dried fruit, almonds, apple and citrus zest in a large mixing bowl and stir well. Combine the eggs, Guinness and 2 tablespoons of the brandy in a separate bowl and whisk together, then pour into the mixing bowl and fold in until well combined – it should now have a dropping consistency, but add a little more stout if necessary. Cover and leave overnight to allow the flavours to mingle and the mixture to thicken.

Next day, butter a 2 pint pudding basin. Use the basin to trace and cut out two circles of parchment paper – one the size of the bottom and one the size of the top. Line the bottom of the bowl with the small circle of paper. Fill the basin with the mixture to about ½ inch from the top and pat down with a wooden spoon. Cover the pudding with the larger circle of parchment paper, so it is sitting on the mixture. Lay a sheet of foil over the top, doming it slightly to allow the pudding to swell. Tie a piece of string around the bowl, under the rim, to secure the foil in place.

Place a pastry cutter or muffin ring in the base of a large pan, and set the pudding on the ring in the bottom of the pan (this ensures the bowl does not crack). If the basin is a tight fit in the pan you can tie an additional loop of string over the top of the pudding, to help you left it out of the pan later. Add boiling water to come halfway up the side of the bowl. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer steadily for 8 hours, adding more boiling water from time to time, as needed.

Wearing oven gloves, carefully remove the bowl from the pan and leave it to cool.

When the pudding is cold, wrap in foil and store in a cool, dark place.

Before serving, the pudding should be steamed once again for 2 hours. To serve on Christmas day, turn out on to a flat dish and stick a sprig of holly in the centre. Warm a ladleful of brandy, pour it over the pudding and set light to it just before you carry it to the table

For the butter hard sauce, Place the butter in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric hand whisk until pale and smooth. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract, and beat until it is all incorporated. Add the brandy gradually, to taste, and stir well.

Spoon the brandy butter into a small serving dish, cover and store in the fridge until needed. Serve very cold, with the Christmas pudding.


TIP: The pudding should be prepared up to three months in advance and kept in a cool dark place.

Downton Abbey Christmas Pudding with Brandy Butter Hard Sauce

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