Grandma’s Christmas Carrot Pudding

Spiced sponge cake made in a traditional British style using raisins, currants, and spices to flavor a deliciously moist sponge made with carrots, potatoes, and suet. Drizzle with a warm brandy butter sauce and you will be singing its praises vs carols this Christmas!


This recipe has always made me nervous to make. Ingredients that make no sense to me, questions about why it is called pudding, the process of steaming, and where the heck do I find suet.

I had many reasons for putting off making this recipe for years. But the price I was paying was too high. I have missed out on eating this recipe for over 10 years now since my Grandma passed and knew that this year I had to go for it or risk another year without any.

What I learned… it is really quite simple and not at all the Mount Everest I anticipated.

So now I see it as my duty to share with you my tips and workarounds to make it easy for you to make too!

Where Did Steamed Carrot Pudding Originate?

Carrot pudding is said to date back to the early 1500s with origins in Great Britain, particularly England and Ireland.

While not exactly the same as a Figgy Pudding traditional in the United States (which by the way has no figs in it), carrot pudding is very close except that it uses finely shredded potatoes and carrots instead of shredded apples and citrus peels.

Why Is Carrot Pudding Eaten at Christmas?

There are many types of Christmas puddings but all are similar in the fact that they all are steamed cakes made of raisins, candied fruit, sugar, and suet traditionally.

Christmas pudding is known by many names and depends largely on the place of origin. In the United States, this steamed cake is known as Figgy Pudding but in the United Kingdom and Ireland, it is more commonly called Plum Pudding or Christmas Pudding.

In the early days of the long history of this traditional dish, the recipe was made with 13 ingredients each representing Jesus and his 12 disciples. With family members each taking a turn stirring the ingredients as they are added from east to west as a representation of their journey.

Some also say that adorning the cake with holly is to represent the crown of thorns placed atop Jesus’ head. And lighting the cake with brandy represents the passion of Christ.

My family never lights up our cake, that is a waste of alcohol and adds zero yumminess. Instead, we pour a Brandied Brown Butter Sauce over the cake… hands down the better option.

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Carrots – peeled and grated. Do not use frozen or sticks. You want a fine peel from a potato peeler. About 2 large carrots will do.
  • Potatoes – White or yellow potatoes are ideal because they have higher water content. Peel them and grate them as well with a grater or potato peeler.
  • All-purpose flour – Works with the moisture from the carrots, potatoes, and suet to bind it all together and give it a sponge texture.
  • Egg – A binding agent to hold the pudding together and add structure.
  • Milk – Any milk will do. The purpose is to bring in a little more moisture to soften the cake and help it steam.
  • Sugar – Granulated sugar is preferred.
  • Raisins – Thompson raisins are what I prefer but you can also use yellow raisins.
  • Fresh currants – Balances out the sweetness of the cake and adds a subtle berry flavor.
  • Suet – The fat that adds tenderness to this recipe. If you don’t have suet lard or hard cold butter is a good substitute.
  • Baking soda – the leavening agent that gives some rise to the cake.
  • Holiday spices – ground cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

What Are Currants?

Currants are actually dried grapes just like raisins but a smaller type of grape. Unlike larger raisins, they have a sweet and sour flavor with berry undertones. They are tart but not enough to make you pucker.

You can usually find them fresh at a local bulk food store.

What is Suet?

Suet is the hard animal fat from cows or sheep. It is used on British Christmas Pudding often because it instills a rich flavor without tasting meaty.

It is very easy to find at a local butcher or grocery store where they have a butcher and is often FREE! Why because the butchers typically throw it away as they carve the beef.

Just visit the butcher or call ahead and they will carve some off for you.

If you don’t have a butcher or don’t want to use suet, lard or cold butter is an excellent alternative.

How To Make Carrot Pudding Cake

Peel and grate the carrots and potatoes and set aside. Cover them with a damp paper towel to keep them moist and to prevent the potatoes from browning while preparing the other ingredients.

Use the same grater to grate up the suet.

Add the milk, egg, and sugar to a bowl and mix well to combine. Then add the shredded carrots, potatoes, raisins, and shredded suet to the bowl. Mix it all up well until combined.

Place a large sieve over the wet ingredients and add the flour, baking soda, and spices to the sieve. Use a spoon to push it through the sieve into the wet ingredients below. This helps to really combine the spices and baking soda and remove any lumps.

Add the carrot pudding mix to a medium-sized metal, glass, or ceramic bowl that has a lip or edge on the side. This edge is important because you will need to create a little basket for the Christmas pudding for steaming. More on that later!

Next, grab some parchment paper and cooking twine. You will want a large enough piece of parchment paper to cover the bowl after creating a 2″ or so fold in the center like the photo above. You also need some extra parchment to hang well over the edge so you can tie the cooking twine around the bowl.

To secure the parchment paper tie the twine over the paper securing it tightly under the lip or edge of the bowl. Tie it tightly. The end game here is that we are creating a handle of sorts so that when the pudding is done it can easily be removed from the steamer basket without burning yourself. So this step is important!

After the parchment paper is secured repeat this step again with a layer of aluminum foil. You can do one tie for both the parchment and foil if you prefer I just like to overdo things sometimes to be sure.

When the foil is secure add a handle by wrapping more kitchen twine under the string wrapped around the bowl and folding it over and under the other side then tying it tightly.

Give it a test to make sure it is secure by using the “handle” to lift the bowl off the counter. It should be easy to do and feel secure. If it isn’t start again. The last thing you want is to make this wonderful carrot pudding cake and have it land on the floor when your try and lift it out of the steamer when it is done.

Place the carrot pudding bowl in a large pot inside a steamer basket. You will want to fill the pot with water up to a water level halfway up the side of the bowl. Don’t let the bowl sit directedly on the bottom of the pot.

Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and let the Carrot pudding steam for about 3 hours covered. Remove the carrot pudding from the steamer basket carefully and serve warm.

How to Know when Steam Carrot Pudding Is Done?

Simple! Use the toothpick method just like any other cake but with a slight twist. Because the steamed carrot pudding cake is covered in aluminum foil you need to poke the toothpick in and twirl it to “draw a circle” almost to widen the hole.

If you don’t, when you pull the toothpick out all of the cake if the cake is still undercooked the batter will just be pulled off of the toothpick by the foil. Widening the hole will allow the toothpick to be pulled out and inspected giving you a true test of if the toothpick comes out clean or not.

For those who have never done the toothpick test on a cake, the rule of thumb is when a toothpick is inserted into the center of a cake if it comes out clean the cake is done.

Is Christmas Pudding Made Ahead of Christmas?

Yes traditionally, Christmas pudding is made 4-6 weeks prior to Christmas dinner on Stir-up Sunday which is the last Sunday before advent. The tradition is based on a Bible passage “Stir up; we beseech thee, O Lord” which Victorian tradition was the time to start stirring up the Pud!

Also, just like a good shortbread, time is on your side. Letting Carrot Pudding sit a few weeks in the fridge or a cool dry place. This helps entice a deeper richer flavor.

Now even though tradition is that this cake is made in advance don’t let that prevent you from making one on the day of Christmas or anywhere in between. I made this cake and ate it the same day and it was still delicious!

Can You Freeze Carrot Pudding?

Sure Can! In fact, I always freeze any leftovers and cut a slice of the cake easily when I need a treat or some comfort dessert. Just let the cake cool completely if you are freezing right away.

Wrap the cooled carrot pudding cake tightly in plastic wrap and foil and freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw it in the fridge or steam it using the same method used to cook.

For only one piece, I just pop it in the microwave for about 45 seconds.

How to Serve Carrot Pudding

  • Serve with warm Brandied Brown Sugar Sauce over top of each slice.
  • Dust with powdered sugar
  • Pour some brandy over top and set it aflame. Be careful not to burn yourself or set the table on fire.

More Holiday Dessert Ideas

Christmas pudding on a plate decorated with holly.

Grandma’s Christmas Carrot Pudding

Spiced cake made in a traditional British style using raisins, currants, and spices to flavor a deliciously moist sponge – A Holiday Tradition!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: British
Keyword: Carrot Pudding, Chrismas Dessert, Christmas Pudding Sauce, Cupcake Recipes, Holiday Desserts
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 281kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 oz grated carrots; peeled
  • 7 oz grated potatoes; peeled
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 4.4 oz shredded suet, butter or lard
  • 1/2 cup currants
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Instructions

  • Peel and grate the carrots and potatoes and set aside. Cover them with a damp paper towel to keep them moist and to prevent the potatoes from browning while preparing the other ingredients.
  • Add the milk, egg and sugar to a bowl and mix well to combine. Then add the shredded carrots, potatoes, raisins, and shredded suet to the bowl. Mix it all up well until combined.
  • Place a large sieve over the wet ingredients and add the flour, baking soda, and spices to the sieve. Use a spoon to push it through the sieve into the wet ingredients below. This helps to really combine the spices and baking soda and remove any lumps.
  • Add the carrot pudding mix to a medium-sized metal, glass or ceramic bowl that has a lip or edge on the side. This edge is important because you will need to create a little basket for the Christmas pudding for steaming. More on that later!
  • Next, grab some parchment paper and cooking twine. You will want a large enough piece of parchment paper to cover the bowl after creating a 2″ or so fold in the center like the photo above. You also need some extra parchment to hang well over the edge so you can tie the cooking twine around the bowl.
    To secure the parchment paper tie the twine over the paper securing it tightly under the lip or edge of the bowl. Tie it tightly.
  • After the parchment paper is secured repeat this step again with a layer of aluminum foil.
  • When the foil is secure add a handle by wrapping more kitchen twine under the string wrapped around the bowl and folding it over and under the other side then tying it tightly to form a handle that can lift the heavy bowl out of the steamer when it is done.
  • Place the carrot pudding bowl in a large pot inside a steamer basket. You will want to fill the pot with water up to a water level halfway up the side of the bowl. Don’t let the bowl sit directedly on the bottom of the pot.
  • Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and let the Carrot pudding steam for about 3 hours covered. Remove the carrot pudding from the steamer basket carefully and serve warm with Brandied Brown Sugar Sauce drizzled overtop.

Notes

Sauce:
Add 123 calories per 1 oz of the Brandied Brown Butter Sauce or see link for recipe and additional nutritional information 
Storage and Freezing
Store in the fridge or a cool dry place in a tightly sealed container for up to 5 weeks. 
To freeze allow the cake to cool completely then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and a layer of foil and freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw in the fridge and steam prior to eating. Or for a single piece microwave for about 45 seconds.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 281kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 128mg | Potassium: 210mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 29g
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Please Note:The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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