Time to make the Christmas Puddings, Cake and Sweet Mincemeat…

My oh, my is the time not flying ??? We are in November now so over the course of the next week I will be making my cake, pudding and sweet mincemeat for those mince pies.

christmas Baking Cakes and Pudding

Some of you may keep with tradition and wait until Stir Up Sunday which this year is the 22nd of November…Stir Up Sunday always falls on the last Sunday before Advent…This tradition dates back to Victorian days when all the family gathered together…they stirred, steamed and stored and ticked off the first task in the run-up to the festive season.

It is said that this tradition stemmed from the opening line from the Common Book of Prayer which was read out in church on the Sunday before Advent which said “Stir up, we beseech thee. O Lord”

And remember to stir that pudding clockwise …East to West to pay homage to the journey made by the Wise Men.

For those of you who find the rich Christmas puddings and cake just too much in a few weeks, I will give you a recipe for a lighter cake and some lighter desserts which don’t require making in advance like the richer fruit puddings and cakes.

This first recipe is gluten-free..for all of my friends who have to eat gluten-free for a diagnosed medical condition it is delicious and quite frankly just as nice as my tried and tested recipe I always make..not much difference in taste.

So I am giving you both recipes one Gluten-free and my tried and tested one which if you used gluten-free breadcrumbs and flour would also be gluten-free…

Gluten FREE Christmas pudding… Enjoy!


  • 100gm currants.
  • 100gm sultanas.
  • 100gm sour cherries.
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Grated zest and juice of half an Orange.
  • 1tsp of mixed spice and cinnamon.
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg.
  • 100ml of brandy..this is where my hand slipped…haha
  • 180gm dark brown sugar
  • 1 granny smith Apple( I can’t obtain these) so used a new Zealand apple which is quite tart.
  • 1 large carrot, grated.
  • 250gm ground almonds.
  • 50gm gluten-free cornflour.
  • 1tsp gluten-free baking powder.
  • 2 med free-range eggs.
  • 50ml vegetable oil( I use coconut oil)
  • plus extra for greasing.
  • 2 tbsp black treacle.
  • This makes enough for a 2-pint pudding basin or two 1 pint puddings.

Let’s Cook!

In a large bowl put dried fruit, zest, and juice, spice, and brandy stir to combine, cover and leave for 24hrs.

Then mix in sugar, apple, and carrot, add beaten eggs then stir in oil and treacle.

Lastly,  stir in dry ingredients with a pinch of salt.

Put mixture into a greased pudding basin it should be two-thirds full. Cover the top with a round of greaseproof paper then cover with pleated tin foil or a pudding cloth and secure with string.

You can now either set the pudding in a saucepan on an upturned plate and fill the pan with boiling water about halfway up the basin. Put the lid on and steam for 4 hours remembering to top up the water as necessary.

I always use a steamer and in this case, it was my wicker rice steamer which the bowl sits in nicely over the pot of water.

If you have made a lot of puddings over the years like me  I think you find your own preferred method of steaming your puds.

Once steamed, cool and rewrap the pudding and store in a cool, dry place. It is the fridge for me as its too humid here…I do miss my cool pantry…

To serve simmer or steam the pudding for 1-2 hrs, then invert onto a plate and flame the pud or serve with sauce, brandy butter or cream…

It’s cream all the way for me …and lots of it!

My second recipe is slightly different but adaptable to make gluten-free and the one I make year after year…I could do it blindfold now…lol

So for all of you who want to get your Christmas Puddings made so they develop the lovely flavours then here is my tried and tested recipe….. 🙂


  • 300gm fresh breadcrumbs ( I use brown)
  • 100gm self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ whole nutmeg, very finely grated
  • 350gm raisins
  • 100g mixed peel
  • 50gm flaked almonds
  • 250gm suet
  • 225gm Demerara sugar
  • 225gm sultanas
  • 225gm currants
  • 2 carrots, peeled and very finely grated
  • 2 cooking apples, peeled and very finely grated
  • (shhhh)Wet ingredients
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 small wine glass of brandy  shhhhh and a tad more..haha
  • 2 tbsp black treacle
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten

Let’s Cook!

Put the breadcrumbs in the biggest mixing bowl you can find. Sieve the flour into the bowl with the mixed spice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Then add the remaining dry ingredients, up to and including the grated apples. Combine all the wet ingredients in a jug. Pour the mixture over the dry ingredients and mix together, with a big wooden spoon. Take it in turns to give it a stir, closing your eyes and making a wish.

Cover the bowl with a clean, damp cloth and leave overnight.

Butter 2 x 1.2-litre pudding basins and spoon the mix into them. Place a disc of baking paper on top of the puddings, then seal with a big sheet of baking paper with a central pleat, to allow expansion. Cover with a cotton or muslin cloth and tie with string or foil. Steam for 6 hours in steamers, or in pans with simmering water that reaches two-thirds up the sides of the basins – be sure to keep the water topped up. Remove and allow to cool.

When cool, re-cover the basins and store in a cool, dry place. On Christmas day, or the day you’re going to eat the puddings, steam for another 1-2 hours. Turn the pudding onto a plate, then pour 75ml of brandy into a ladle and carefully warm over low heat for 1 minute or so. Light the match and viola a flaming pud 🙂

N.B. As I live in sunny climes then I store mine in the fridge as they ferment very quickly here and that’s not quite what we want.

Happy Cooking and don’t forget to make a wish 🙂

Sweet Mincemeat…Nothing better and so easy to make you will wonder why you ever bought a jar from the supermarket shelves and will be rewarded with such a superior taste and richness that will take your pies to a new level……Your taste buds will sing!

Christmas pudding, cake or a jar of mincemeat make lovely presents especially for someone on their own… a beautiful pudding or cake for one would be so gratefully received as hand made gifts of food always are and so personal and thoughtful…Don’t you think?

Dating back to 15th century Britain mincemeat pies did contain meat and fruit but I suppose that is not so different from today as I incorporate meat and fruit in recipes…

The meat was soon exchanged for beef suet and although I still use suet I use vegetable suet…

Making mincemeat and cakes is always a family affair at my house…I helped my mum, my kids helped me…a stir and a wish…It is now the turn of the grand kiddies…

  • 36oz of dried fruit…..I used raisins, sultanas, chopped prunes and some dried cranberries.
  • 12oz brown sugar.
  • Zest and juice of 2 oranges and 2 lemons.
  • 2oz chopped almonds or nut of your choice.
  • 1lb Apples peeled and chopped.
  • 8oz vegetable suet.
  • 4tsp mixed spice.
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4tsp fresh nutmeg grated.
  • 6 tbsp Brandy.

Mix all ingredients except for Brandy, cover and leave overnight for the fruit to plump up and absorb flavours.

Cook on very low heat for 30 mins.

Cool and stir in Brandy.

Spoon into sterilized jars, cover tightly. Store in a cool dark place.

Christmas Cake: Bake and Mature

I love a rich fruit cake … some people love the traditional round Christmas Cake or now some make a square cake and cut it into slices it is just preference and of course, once it is made I always just sprinkle a little brandy, whisky, rum or sherry over the cake every couple of weeks an age-old tradition in our house and I am sure many others.


• 1kg mixed dried fruit (use a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants, cherries, cranberries, prunes or figs)
• zest and juice 1 orange
• zest and juice 1 lemon
• 150ml brandy, Sherry, whisky or rum, plus extra for feeding
• 250g pack butter softened
• 200g light soft brown sugar
• 175g plain flour
• 100g ground almond
• ½ tsp baking powder
• 2 tsp mixed spice
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• ¼ tsp ground cloves
• 100g flaked almond
• 4 large eggs
• 1 tsp vanilla extract

Let’s Cook!

Put 1kg mixed dried fruit, the zest and juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon, 150ml brandy or other alcohol, 250g softened butter and 200g light, soft brown sugar in a large pan set over medium heat.

Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 mins. Tip the fruit mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool for 30 mins.

Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. Line a deep 20cm cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment then wrap a double layer of newspaper around the outside – tie with string to secure.

Add 175g plain flour, 100g ground almonds, ½ tsp baking powder, 2 tsp mixed spice, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, ¼ tsp ground cloves, 100g flaked almonds, 4 large eggs and 1 tsp vanilla extract to the fruit mixture and stir well, making sure there are no pockets of flour.

Tip into your prepared tin, level the top with a spatula and bake in the centre of the oven for 2 hrs.

Remove the cake from the oven, poke holes in it with a skewer and spoon over 2 tbsp of your chosen alcohol. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin.

To store, peel off the baking parchment, then wrap well in cling film. Feed the cake with 1-2 tbsp alcohol every fortnight, until just before you ice it.

N.B: Don’t feed the cake for the final week to give the surface a chance to dry before icing.

If you have any questions or tips you wish to share please do…my best tip from last year was from Sue Vincent who always has a slice of Christmas Cake with some cheese…In Sue’s words the cheese sandwich…A tradition from Yorkshire where she lives and one I am more than happy to adopt that tradition…Thank you, Sue xx

Happy Baking and pudding making…Don’t forget to make a wish…

Stay safe, have fun and laugh a lot as you know what I am going to say it is Free and proven to be good for your health…..Laughter aside…My thoughts and prayers are with all the people who have been or will be touched by this Covid-19 virus…the new lockdowns and restrictions..stay safe be aware and social isolate where required and we will beat this thing…xx

About Carol Taylor:

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetable ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use contain to improve our health and wellbeing.

The environment is also something I am passionate about and although there are now no regular columns on my blog this year. It is important that we are mindful of the world we live in…We all need to be aware of our home’s carbon footprints…where does our food come from? How far does it travel…Simple to do but if we all did it…Not only would we support local businesses but reduce our carbon footprint…

green foot prints eco system

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Thank you once again for reading this post  …Happy Baking! xx


83 thoughts on “Time to make the Christmas Puddings, Cake and Sweet Mincemeat…

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  3. amreade

    This was wonderful! Here in the US I think the English-style Christmas cake tradition has largely been replaced by other family traditions, but I for one would love to see it return. The ritual of everyone stirring and making a wish is delightful and comforting. Thanks for sharing these recipes, Carol!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. amreade

        As a general rule, I think Americans are less apt to stick with traditions when compared with other people around the world. I wish I could change that. But I do my part in my little corner of the country!

        Liked by 2 people

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  7. equitysoftware

    I actually tried this recipe this last Christmas. I’ve never eaten a Christmas pudding before (I’m not from England and we don’t have this tradition over here) but it was delicious and the guests loved it. I’d definitely do it again.

    Liked by 1 person

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  12. Hugh W. Roberts

    Such great fun seeing your Christmas recipes start to appear, Carol. Our ingredients for our Christmas puddings are arriving today in time for Stir-up Sunday. We’ve decided not to make a cake this year because we ended up throwing most of last year’s away. It went in the food compost bin, so didn’t go to waste, but we may change our minds and bake one nearer the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      Thank you, Hugh.. I don’t normally make a cake now I live here.. But my Thai family and neighbours love the pudding and the mince pies so I thought I would make them cakes this year.. Enjoy stir up Sunday 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hugh W. Roberts

        I’ve already been eating mince pies, and those little Christmas cake slices that have white icing on the top. Haven’t been able to get any brandy-sauce yet, though.
        You’re such a lovely neighbour to have, Carol. I bet they can’t wait to taste Christmas cake again.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. CarolCooks2 Post author

        Lovely the only Christmas cakes here is whatever I make..it would be nice to have box of what you are having …have one for me Hugh and enjoy! …they are also lovely neighbours as they often bring Thai treats and things for us to try which is lovely… I am just happy that they tried some of our food and like it…Food builds many a bridge between communities I think 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Hugh W. Roberts

        Yes, I agree, it does, Carol. It’s such a shame that we can’t share food where I am at the moment. However, our latest lockdown is due to finish on Monday. We can then meet up to 4 other people to share a meal.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Hugh W. Roberts

        It’s not the whole of the UK, just England who have just started theirs again, Carol. I’m in Wales, and ours (which started on 23rd Oct) ends on the 9th of November. In Scotland, there currently is no full lockdown, while the one in Northern Ireland ends on Friday 13th Nov. Unfortunately, the four countries that make up the UK could not all come together to decide what action to take or when. However, the good news is that they are going to talk together about restrictions over the festive period. Hopefully, they’ll all agree on what action to take, as too many rules make it all very confusing. 🙄

        Liked by 1 person

      5. CarolCooks2 Post author

        Of course, Hugh I am just so used to saying UK…I wish everyone would all agree a common policy maybe then more people would take notice as its easy to make comparisons when there are too many differences…otherwise it will just carry on with figures going up and down into 2021…

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Hugh W. Roberts

        No worries, Carol. I usually see many people refer to the UK as England and forgetting about the other nations that make up the UK. I believe too many different rules make for too much confusion. But that’s all for another post.

        In the meantime, I’m looking forward to your upcoming Christmas posts.
        Take care.


  13. doandersen

    two things we need now. Cooking with Crol Youtube channel and a Carol Cooksbooks. Although let’s not make it about accounting!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Norah

    Christmas cake and Christmas pudding are two of the things I like best about Christmas. I can’t believe it’s time for them again. Thanks for the gluten-free recipes. Some family members are gluten free. I probably won’t make them, but I can think about it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      Mine too, Norah.. It certainly seems to have come around quickly… You could make small ones as a little Christmas gift I am sure they would appreciate a mini pudding or cake 😊

      Liked by 1 person

    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      Thank you…originally it did have meat and I suppose if you are using beef suet you could say technically it does contain a meat product but it is a sweet mincemeat and no meat product if you use veggie suet..gets confusing …sigh

      Liked by 1 person

      1. dgkaye

        Sorry my friend, no matter how pretty, there’s no convincing me LOL ❤ Save me some cheese though – but only goat cheese. Lol I am a finicky eater. 🙂 xx

        Liked by 1 person

    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      That must be hard, Diana or do you use sugar substitutes as sugar is in almost everything …Yes, it make you feel Christmassy especially when you smell them cooking 🙂 xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. D. Wallace Peach

        I do use a substitute for some special treats, but I also don’t eat much in the way of carbs and dairy, so that makes things a bit more complicated (paleo diet). The good news is that I haven’t even had a sniffle in 3 years (crossing fingers). 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      Thank you, Marian…Yes, it seems everyone is on tender hooks waiting for the results…I hope the results are what you wish for…


  15. noelleg44

    Thank you – a timely and helpful post as I told some friends of mine I would make them a Christmas pud this year. Last year I made them a figgy pudding – way too sweet!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. OIKOS™-Editorial

    Thank you very much, Carol! Lets prepare for Christmas, there now is much more time to do. Honestly, baking really is not one of my skills, but your famous recipes are forcing me to try. Be well and stay save! Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      I love marzipan also and yes the pudding would go equally as well with the cheese which is why I am back on the wagon ..Starting with a dry November, no more bread and cakes until Christmas …that should shift the pounds I have added…Hugs xx

      Liked by 1 person

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