Make the roast of it… cook Christmas desserts from scratch

So back away from those ready-made roasties and have a go yourself.

To help out, try these recipes for sorbet, mincemeat to turn into mince pies and your own (easy) Christmas pudding . . .

Christmas pudding

Preparation time: 45 mins. Soaking 8 hrs.


  • 250g chopped dried figs;
  • grated zest and juice of 1 lemon;
  • 3 tbsp dark rum; 115g unsalted butter, softened;
  • 115g dark muscovado sugar;
  • 2 medium eggs, beaten;
  • 1 dessert apple, peeled and diced;
  • 1 large pear, peeled and diced;
  • 30g flaked almonds, toasted;
  • 115g glace cherries;
  • 2 pieces of stem ginger, chopped;
  • 55g self-raising flour;
  • 100g fresh white breadcrumbs

METHOD: Place dried figs in a bowl. Add lemon zest, juice and rum, then cover and set aside to soak at least overnight.

Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in the eggs.

Add the apple, pear, almonds, glace cherries, ginger and soaked figs then mix together. Sift in the flour and add the breadcrumbs. Grease a 1.4litre pudding basin and put a small disc of greaseproof paper on the bottom. Spoon mixture into the pudding basin.

Lay a doubled sheet of greaseproof paper, then a doubled sheet of foil on top. Smooth paper and foil round basin and tie with string around rim.

Steam for three hours in steamer pan, topping up with water. Remove pudding and foil and greaseproof lid.

Cover with tea towel and leave to cool. When cold, cover with doubled sheets of fresh greaseproof paper and foil. Keep in a cool, dark place for up to three months.

On day of serving, steam for a further hour and a half.

TIP: Serve with rum sauce, brandy butter or ice cream.

Home-made mincemeat

Preparation time: 10 mins.

Cooking time: 10 mins.

Cost: £1.92 per jar.


  • 75g currants
  • 75g raisins
  • 175g sultanas
  • 40g glace cherries – quartered
  • 1 large green apple, peeled and finely diced
  • 100g butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 75g chopped almonds
  • 1 heaped tsp mixed spice
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • Grated rind of 1 orange
  • 225ml brandy (or orange juice)
    Homemade mixed spice:
  • 1tsp ground cloves
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 1tsp ground nutmeg
  • tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp ground allspice

METHOD: First, combine the mixed spice ingredients. Reserve one heaped tsp for the mincemeat; store the rest in a jar for future use. Place all the dried fruit, diced apple, butter and sugar in a saucepan. Cook over a low heat and stir until the butter melts.

Stir in chopped almonds, cinnamon, 1tsp of mixed spice and grated orange. Continue to heat until it begins to simmer. Cook for another five to ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and allow the mincemeat to cool down. Stir in brandy.

TIP: Can be stored in the fridge for up to six weeks.

Mulled wine sorbet

Preparation time: 15 mins. Needs to be beaten every 2hrs for total of 8 hrs. Chill overnight.

Cost: £4.90, £1.23pp.


  • 1 large orange
  • 1 large lemon
  • 300ml Merlot red wine
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 6 juniper berries, crushed
  • 2 cloves

METHOD: Remove two broad strips of rind from the orange and one strip from the lemon using a peeler, and put into a saucepan.

Squeeze both the citrus fruits into the pan with all the other ingredients and 150ml water.

Bring to the boil, stirring a little to help the sugar dissolve, then turn the heat down and simmer for around one minute.

Remove from the heat and leave to cool completely.

Once cooled, strain the mixture into a jug then either churn in an ice-cream machine or pour into a shallow container with a lid and freeze in the freezer.

If using the container method, take it out every couple of hours and beat it with a fork to remove any crystals and return to the freezer.

You need to do this over a total of eight hours.

You can also use a hand whisk or food processor.

After you have done this four times, keep the sorbet, covered, in the freezer for about 12 hours to firm up completely.

TIP: Remove from the freezer and let sit for five minutes before serving, to soften it up a little bit.

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