making heston blumenthal’s hidden orange christmas pudding

As part of a collaboration with BakeAcrossEurope we decided to have a go at Christmas puddings. She’s gone down the traditional route, making an Eliza Acton recipe, and I… didn’t.

In 2010 Heston Blumenthal released the ‘hidden orange Christmas pudding’ in conjunction with Waitrose. I wrote about it at the time and it’s bizarre to look back on it now. They sold out, they were on eBay for hundreds of pounds, and now if you look around all the supermarkets they all have versions of this pudding.

Where did the idea come from? Well most of us know the gimmick of having a sixpence coin buried in the batter, with the recipient being lucky, so that’s the idea of a hidden treat. We often have oranges around the house at this time of year, as well as the idea of having an orange in your stocking (which seems mean now, but was very typical in the post-war years right up to the 1980s). I also think Heston might have had the Sussex Pond Pudding in mind, an historical recipe he loves to reference, where a lemon custard flows from the dessert when cut into. So there’s many ideas coming together.

Heston tried to recapture this magic many times but it never quite resonated the same again. Earlier in 2023 Heston and Waitrose parted ways and it looks like this year Waitrose are offering a ‘Sicilian Orange & Whisky pudding‘.

No.1 Sicilian Orange & Whisky Christmas Pudding

Because it was a commercial product an official recipe was never released. So I’ve looked at other attempts people made, looked at the ingredient listing from an archive product, watched the factory videos… and I think I’ve made a good stab at it.

hidden orange christmas pudding

If I had a niggle, I’d candy the orange for longer. The commercial version candies it for 7 weeks! Mine was just an hour. I think a few hours so it starts to shrivel and break down would make it more delicious.

But otherwise I’m really pleased with it. It’s lighter than a traditional pudding like Heston’s was, but still rich and fruity.

Have you made Heston’s hidden orange Christmas pudding? Let me know in the comments!

hidden orange christmas pudding

Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 7 hours
Total Time 8 hours
Course Dessert
Cuisine English

Equipment

  • 1 pudding basin
  • pan big enough to comfortably hold the pudding basin, plus lid

Ingredients
  

For the candied orange:

  • 1 large orange
  • 250 g sugar
  • 10 g liquid glucose
  • 200 g marmalade

For the pudding:

  • 125 g suet beef or vegetable
  • 125 g breadcrumbs
  • 250 g brown sugar
  • 75 g self-raising flour
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon mixed spice any combination of sweet baking spices will do
  • 500 g mixed dried fruit such as currants, cherries, raisins, cranberries
  • 25 g mixed nuts
  • 50 g mixed citrus peel
  • 50 g glace cherries
  • 150 ml cider preferably orange flavoured, but any will do
  • 4 tablespoons Cointreau any booze will do but the orange liqueur seems appropriate
  • 2 eggs

Instructions
 

For the candied orange:

  • Prick the orange all over with a toothpick. Combine the ingredients in a pan with the orange and cover with water. Stir really well to combine. Cover and simmer gently for an hour. Turn off the heat and leave to sit, covered, for a further hour. Then reheat and simmer for yet another hour to really break the orange down. Remove the orange and set aside to cool.

For the pudding:

  • In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients, stirring well. Then add all the wet ingredients, fruits and nuts and stir very well. You want something that will drop off the spoon slowly. Add a touch more flour or cider if needed.
  • Grease a 1 litre pudding basin well. Add about a third of the pudding mix, then nestle your orange in. Pack the rest of your pudding mix around the orange and press down with the spatula. Gently tap your basin to remove air pockets.
  • Add a layer of baking paper, then cover with foil. Tie around the neck with string. Put a plate at the bottom of a pan large enough to fit your basin, pop your pudding in and bring boiling water up along the sides and cover. Simmer for 7 hours, topping up with more water as required. Allow to cool. You can eat straight away, or microwave for a couple of minutes before serving.

Video

Notes

Serve with custard, ice cream, brandy sauce, or brandy butter. Scales up really well and difficult to get wrong.

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