The Ultimate Christmas Pudding Recipe

We have a baby on the way and nesting instincts arrive with little warning, my family being directed around like soldiers while I scour ebay for suitable changing tables/bags/baskets and cleanse the house with a frantic disposition.  Poor planning (or divine intervention) means due date is dangerously near Christmas and as such, the festive flourish needs to happen sooner rather than later.

High on the list was making the Christmas pudding. I know, I know, supermarkets make lovely versions that can be microwaved in four minutes and can sit in the cupboard until next year if not wanted… but a homemade version is something we’ve always done. Like never buying white sauce or low fat yoghurt. Just one of those things.

So here we are, my luxuriously laden version that I’m convinced is the best I’ve ever eaten. Steam tomorrow and it will be ready to be reheated for the giant lunch and served with brandy cream (shop bought, if you are interested). 






A little softened butter, for greasing

225g caster sugar

200g suet

300g currants

300g raisins

300g citrus peel

100g glace cherries

75g pistachios, roughly chopped

110g plain flour

110g fresh white breadcrumbs

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. mixed spice

Zest from 1 lemon

5 eggs, lightly beaten

50ml whiskey

100ml Cointreau


3 tbsp. apricot jam, melted

Zest of 1 clementine

A handful of toasted almonds, pecan nuts and glace cherries


1. Lightly grease a 1.2 litre pudding basin with softened butter and cut a small circle of parchment to place in the base of the pudding bowl.

2. Combine the sugar, suet, currants, raisins, citrus peel, cherries, pistachio, plain flour, breadcrumbs, spices and lemon zest in a very large mixing bowl.

3. Add the eggs, whiskey and Cointreau and stir all the ingredients together until well distributed and spoon the wet mixture into the pudding basin, pressing the mixture down with the back of a spatula. Place a round of baking parchment over the top of the mixture and then wrap with a layer of foil so that the basin is watertight. Secure with string.

4. Either put the basin in the pan of boiling water, to come halfway up the sides or in the top of a lidded steamer and steam for 6 hours, checking every so often that the water is topped up.

5. Cool your pudding and store, re - wrapped in foil for 6 weeks, until the big Christmas day.

6. Once ready to re-heat, steam the wrapped pudding – still in it’s basin - for a further 3 hours. To serve, remove from the basin and brush with warmed apricot jam. Decorate with cherries, nuts and clementine and serve, with a side of ice cream. 

An image I took for Judes ice cream a few weeks ago, of said pudding!  


26 Grains, London

Really could porridge become and more pimped? Yes people, it can. 26 Grains, the brainchild of Alex Hely Hutchinson is a cute café nestled in Neal’s Yard, amongst the infamous Neal’s Yard headquarters. The location is the sort of secret only real Londoners know about, all hanging baskets, muted tones and aged brickwork.

The café (I think its more café than restaurant) has a hipster vibe to it. Tiny, with small wooden tables, whitewashed walls and an oblicitory smattering of copper. Porridge is the only thing on the menu but man do they do it well, its pimped beyond any porridge I’d eaten before and kicks those pret cardboard pots out of the water.  We sat outside, just next to the street cleaning man – making the whole experience all the more London – and cuddled generous bowls of their Nodic Pear option, think coconut milk, oats, spices, seeds, cacao crumble, coconut yoghurt, pear & maple. And they don’t even mention the flurry of edible violets sprinkled to finish. Sweet nothings, it was so good.

And here are the others:

Hazelnut & Butter
Almond Milk Oats, Butter, Hazelnuts, Cinnamon Coconut Palm Sugar and Apple
Banana Cacao
Almond Milk Oats, Coconut Yogurt, Cacao Nibs, Banana and Date Syrup
Cardamom Orange
Almond Milk Oats and Rye, Cardamom Orange Compote, Greek Yogurt, Pomegranate, Pistachio

Jasper, my four year old eats porridge every day whether the weather Gods are smiling or crying. I arrived home from 26 Grains with my phone loaded with pics and we’ve decided that this is the only café he ever wants to eat at. I think I agree.


The Hart & Fuggle @ Bert & May

It was a week or two ago now but my gorgeous foodie friend Alice Hart and I ran a night in the Bert & May warehouse. I love cooking with Alice; we work well together whilst managing crises, dancing around the kitchen and offering well-timed words of encouragement. The menu was simple and in all honestly, too much was left until the final hour or two but you’ve gotta love a load of last minute kitchen panic. The crockery was stunning – Bert & May originals – and the atmosphere buzzing. Tickets sold out so I think we may be doing another evening, I’ll keep you posted.


The Best Sausage Rolls

Just about nothing can compete with the sausage roll and absolutely nothing can compete with a homemade version. This recipe uses a quick flaky puff that blows the store bought version out of the water. Apricots, shallots and sage embellish the sausage meat and a sweet sticky apple glaze brings everything together. Fit for a party or a pregnancy craving (not mine!)


Prep time – 1 hour + resting
Cook time – 40 minutes
Makes 6 large sausage rolls

For the pastry
150g salted butter, frozen
220g plain flour
A pinch of salt
5-6 tbsp cold water
For the sausage rolls
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tbsp. of sage, chopped
500g free range sausage meat
15g dried apricots, roughly chopped
1 small cox apple, grated
For the glaze
100ml Cawston apple juice
50g light brown sugar
1 tsp. of fennel seeds, to garnish

1. Begin by making the flaky pastry. Empty the flour into a large bowl. Remove the frozen butter from the freezer (being careful not to touch it with your hands as this will melt it) and grate the butter on top of the flour, using the coarse side of a grater. Add a pinch of salt.  Using a palette knife distribute the butter amongst the flour. Sprinkle 3 tbsp. cold water into the bowl and begin to mix the pastry together using the palette knife, adding a little more water if needed. Bring the pastry together with your hands, avoiding handling it too much and shape into a flat disc.  Wrap  in cling film and place in the fridge for 45 minutes.
2. Now, make the filling for the sausage rolls. Heat the olive oil in a medium sized pan, on a low heat and gently fry the shallots for 10 minutes. Stir through the sage and cook for a further 2 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly. Empty the sausage meat into a large mixing bowl and add the shallots, apricots and grated apple. Season well and mix until well combined..
3. Prepare the glaze by simply placing the Cawston juice and light brown sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Reduce the liquid by half and allow to gently bubble for 4-5 minutes until the sauce has become syrupy.
4. Remove the chilled pastry from the fridge and roll, on a floured surface, to a large rectangle. Trim the sides to 23cm x 30cm and then divide the pastry into two long lengths, each 35cm x 15cm. Divide the sausage meat in two and shape into two long ‘sausages’. Place in the center of each pasty length and brush the edges of the pastry with apple syrup. Fold the pastry over the sausage meat to cover, trim with a sharp knife and cut each length of pasty into 3. There should be 6 sausage rolls in total. Gently press the join of the pastry with a fork to secure.
5. Place the sausage rolls on a waxed paper on a baking sheet and place in the freezer for 30 minutes to chill completely. The pastry will cook best from frozen.
6. Preheat the oven to 200C, fan 180C, gas mark 6.

7. Remove the sausage rolls from the freezer and brush with the apple syrup. Sprinkle over with fennel seeds and cook for 20-25 minutes, until puffed up and golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Serve.