How to Make my Nana’s Steamed Plum (Christmas) Pudding for the Holidays

Learn how to make an old-fashioned Steamed Christmas Pudding, or Plum Pudding as my nana used to call it, for the holiday season!

Nana's Steamed Christmas Pudding

This month’s Recipe Redux challenge was the following: “Please share one of your favorite food memories and the healthier “redo” of the recipe.” This was an easy decision. Every year my beloved Nana brought her steamed “Plum Pudding” for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was always my favorite, for reasons I’ll get into later. When I got her recipe card from my mom so I could make it myself, I discovered that the real name for the recipe was, “Steamed Christmas Pudding.”

Nana's Steamed Christmas Pudding recipe card

I wish my Nana was alive so I could ask her why she called this dessert Plum Pudding. After all, there are no plums in the recipe! Maybe someone out there knows the answer to this question? I’m also unclear why it’s called a pudding since it’s really more of a cake. I love this card that Nana typed out for my Mom, and my Mom’s writing to remind her where to find the recipe for hard sauce. Joy of Cooking, of course!

Nana Newell and Dad serving Plum Pudding

When I was preparing to write this post, I asked my husband to check the attic for photo albums from the 1980s since my Nana died in 1989. Five minutes later, god bless him, he brought me an album that had this 1988 photo of Nana being served a piece of her Plum Pudding by my Dad.

How cool is that?

Nana's Steamed Christmas Pudding 13

When they say steamed puddin, they are not kidding. The batter is placed in a metal mold with a cover and steamed for three hours. I was so pleased when the cake slipped out of the mold.

Nana's Christmas Plum Pudding


When I steamed the plum pudding, it expanded to lift the cover off a bit so it’s taller than I remember. It’s not as perfect looking as I recall, but it sure tasted good!

Ingredients for Nana's Christmas Plum Pudding


The ingredients are really quite simple, and the only changes I made were to substitute 1 cup of whole wheat flour for a cup of the all-purpose flour and to use some canola oil in place of half the butter. Otherwise the recipe is the same as Nana’s.

Nana’s Steamed Plum Pudding

Makes 12 Servings

This old- fashioned Plum Pudding, AKA Christmas Pudding, was a family favorite in the Newell house at the holidays. Cutting back on the butter and adding a bit of whole wheat flour didn’t change the flavor or appeal. Top with a dab of whipped cream or hard sauce and enjoy!

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup water

1. Lightly butter a 4-cup pudding mold and set aside.

2. Whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl until well combined.

3. Rub the butter and canola oil into the flour mixture (the object is to incorporate the fat into the flour) and stir in the raisins.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk the molasses, milk, and water until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and cover. Place in a steaming basket and steam for 3 hours. Allow to cool slightly and unmold the pudding onto a serving platter. Slice and top with whipped cream or hard sauce.

Nutrition Information per Serving: 300 calories, 10g fat (3.5g saturated), 220mg sodium, 51g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 4g protein, 15% iron

Print Recipe

Nana's Steamed Christmas Pudding

I mentioned earlier in the post that I’d share one of the reasons I loved this dessert when I was a kid. The hard sauce that we enjoyed on top of the Plum Pudding was made with brandy and I felt very grown up eating it. Of course the entire recipe had only one tablespoon of brandy, which explains why my Mom let us eat it. Or, maybe she wanted us to go to bed early on Thanksgiving night!  :)

Mom and Dad eating Nana's Christmas Plum Pudding

Speaking of Mom, I had my parents over for dinner last weekend so they could sample my first attempt at making Nana’s plum pudding. Guess what?  They loved it!

Mold for Nana's Christmas Plum Pudding and Joy of Cooking

If you find a mold to make this Plum Pudding and want to prepare the hard sauce, check out page 775 of the 1975 edition of Joy of Cooking. If you do not own it, simply beat 1/4 cup butter and gradually add 1 cup of powdered sugar until well blended and fluffy. Add 1 tablespoon brandy or rum and a pinch of salt and blend well. Chill thoroughly.

Let me know if you try this recipe, and feel free to share one of your favorite food memories. Happy Thanksgiving!

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