Why doesn’t a flaming Christmas pudding burn?

Christmas pudding

To create this quintessential Christmas centrepiece, just before serving the recipe will tell you to heat up an alcoholic spirit, such as brandy.

You then pour it all over the prized pud, and proceed to the table to start the show. When set alight, it’s the vapour from the alcohol that burns (this was released when you warmed the spirit moments before lighting it). The pudding never actually catches fire and so doesn’t burn at all.

The flames go out when all the alcohol is vaporised, leaving nothing but a tasty, perfectly cooked festive dessert behind. Pass the brandy butter…

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