Fr. Z’s Kitchen: Christmas Pudding 2019

A few people asked me to post about making this year’s Christmas Pudding.   Yesterday was “Stir Up Sunday” (¡Hagan lío! Sunday?), the last of the liturgical year.  It is so-called because of the first words of the Collect.  But I’ve written on that elsewhere.

Putting together my mise en place.  I’m using Delia’s recipe, with variations.  That requires measurement by weight and volume for liquids, thus, the graduated cylinder.

The least pleasant aspect of the recipe is the preparation of the suet.  I lopped some o’ this here hunk off and made sure it were froze some.

Grate the suet.  Add the bread crumbs and blend together. As it was I had to use a multi-bladed pastry cutter.

Adding all the ingredients and ticking them off the list, so that I don’t miss any.  I couldn’t find my usual zester for the orange and lemon, so I zested with an erzatz zester, I tested before hand, then rested and zested the aforesaid lemon.  Here is the bested orange, zested.

Into the eggs beaten with bourbon (not rum this year) goes the stout.  There is also barleywine.

Now it goes to the fridge for the night.  The next morning, that is this morning, in went the self-rising flour.  I had to concoct some, with baking soda and salt.

Yes, if you were about to ask, I added more bourbon.

To grease the pudding basins, I used pure lard.

The toughest part of the whole process is tying the string around the basins.  I made loops to facilitate their removal from the large pot where they are, as I write this, being steamed.

I’ll give them about 8 hours.

You can help me with the ingredients and win my gratitude as well as remembrance among the benefactors I pray for at Mass.

Thanks in advance!

In the meantime, as I posted in years past, here are images from a book I recall from my ever more distant childhood, depicting “Max” preparing what I now – at long last – understand to be a Christmas Pudding!  As a ‘Mer’can kid I had no idea what he was making – meatloaf? – or why he was trying to light it on fire.

Max was created by Pericle Giovannetti for Punch.

MAX's Christmas Pudding

MAX's Christmas Pudding

MAX's Christmas Pudding

MAX's Christmas Pudding

MAX's Christmas Pudding

MAX's Christmas Pudding

MAX's Christmas Pudding

MAX's Christmas Pudding

MAX's Christmas Pudding

Yes, sometimes our best plans and efforts blow up in our faces.


The puddings steamed for about 8 hours.

And they are ready for storage.

I found an old pudding, several years old, when I went to put the new ones away. I wonder if it okay. I suppose if you steam it long enough….

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. JimWi says:

    Father, it looks excellent! Would you post the recipe?

    I would love to give this a shot this year or next!

    [Check out the link, near the top of the post.]

  2. Charles E Flynn says:

    The accurate measurement of small volumes of liquid in the kitchen can be done with a graduated cylinder, as shown above. The best of these vessels, designated Class A, calibrated to deliver, with a certificate of accuracy, are quite expensive and can take months to arrive.

    Recently, a former Google engineer with an excellent math background thought deep thoughts about this subject, and realized that a vessel with a constant ratio of surface area to volume would deliver great accuracy without being too tall. The result is here:

  3. benedetta says:


  4. hwriggles4 says:

    This looks tasty. One of the few desserts that I make is basic cobbler with pie filling (or fresh fruit) and either bisquick or pioneer biscuit mix. It’s similar to what we prepared in the Dutch Oven in our Boy Scout days with peaches, but this one I bake in a regular oven, and it passes muster at pot lock dinners, especially with blackberries.

  5. A Christmas pudding looks like a lot of work. Even more work than egg nog, which I made one year (and learned a lesson about just how long a ways a very little bit of nutmeg goes).

  6. Mariana2 says:

    The brandy has to be warmed beforehand, not poured direcly from the bottle, as “Max” did. That way, it will burn nicely.

  7. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    Barleywine are uncommon beers and can be difficult to find. I am curious which brand/name you used…

  8. SuzyQ says:

    I wondered if you’d be making Christmas pudding this year when I heard the Introit chanted Sunday. :)

  9. moosix1974 says:

    I made “mincemeat”. I used quotation marks, because the only “meat” in it is some lard. I used a recipe that someone posted on FB last year. I am no longer on FB and wish I remember who posted it, so I could post it here and give them credit. Since I cannot, I will just say is involved a LOT of liquor. It’s all now having a party in my fridge for the next four weeks and I hope everyone in the jar gets to know and like each other very well. Also, currants in America are ridiculously expensive. Unfortunately, I only ordered half of what I needed and didn’t realize it until I was adding the ingredients. I had a surplus of golden raisins that I used instead. I hope it won’t affect the outcome too much. If I had ordered the full amount, wow. Spendy. If anyone knows of a cheaper place than Amazon to source currants, please do share.

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