What exactly IS a Christmas pudding? All about the royal family's famous dessert

Four generations of royals came together to make a traditional Christmas pudding.
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/ Source: TODAY

At Buckingham Palace, it's not really Christmas without a traditional pudding.

But unlike the gloppy, slightly gelatinous dessert most Americans know and love, a British pudding is a dish that's baked or steamed.

On Saturday, the royal family shared a photo with four generations mixing up a very special dessert. Prince George was joined by his great grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles and Prince William, to stir up a unique batch of puddings that will be served as centerpieces during Royal British Legion holiday dinners in 2020.

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On Monday, TODAY senior international correspondent Keir Simmons detailed the royal family's Christmas plans, which includes a lunch with extended family members and a walk to church on Wednesday.

But TODAY's Craig Melvin just wanted to know exactly what was in that pudding made by Prince George ... and we're curious, too!

Luckily, Keir, a London native, had all the answers.

"So Christmas pudding is a kind of stodgy — do you use that word, stodgy? — filled with dried fruits, hot cake, that takes sometimes 12 months to make," he explained. "And then you pour a kind of sauce all over it. And you only eat it once a year for a reason."

Stodgy, in case anyone was wondering, means, "heavy, filling and high in carbohydrates." So, in that sense, a British pudding is very similar to a classic American fruitcake, which is also reserved for very special occasions.

The Royal British Legion's "Together at Christmas" initiative will distribute 99 dishes of the holiday dessert to the Armed Forces community to help combat loneliness during the holidays. Since the pudding can take a year, this batch will be given away to families in Christmas 2020.

This particular Christmas pudding recipe, which was created by Royal British Legion chef Alex Cavaliere, has almost 25 ingredients and is pretty labor intensive as it involves mixing, sieving, boiling (using greased basins) and then storing it for a very, very long time.

Ingredients include dried fruits like currants and prunes, crystalized ginger, brown sugar, citrus, ground almonds and several liquors like rum, brandy and sherry. The royals, according to the Legion, also added a pinch of poppy seeds as "a nod to the iconic symbol of Remembrance."

Britain's Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince George alongside veterans Liam Young, Colin Hughes, Alex Cavaliere, Barbra Hurman and Lisa Evans, in the Music Room at Buckingham Palace, during the launch of The Royal British Legion's Together at Christmas initiative in London, Britain. Chris Jackson/Handout via REUTERS Chris Jackson / Reuters

While this recipe is pretty time consuming to make, you could always do what the queen does and simply buy some Christmas puddings, as she reportedly does for her staff every year.

And if you're looking to fully feast like the royal family, try some of their favorite Christmas dinner recipes from by Buckingham Palace's former chef Darren McGrady.

Potted Shrimp

Potted Shrimp

Darren McGrady, The Royal Chef
Beef Bourguignon

Beef Bourguignon

Darren McGrady, The Royal Chef
Kale and Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

Kale and Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

Darren McGrady, The Royal Chef