This pudding is rich, but not so rich as to be difficult to eat. For me, Christmas pudding is very much a part of the season. I’d feel something was missing, if there was none to be had. My first attempts at making a gluten free version used cooked rice (with success) until one day I was chatting with a friend when composing the pudding, and had started to steam it, before I realized that the rice was still sitting in the rice cooker. The pudding was fine, so I now no longer go to the trouble of cooking rice!
Yesterday, I started putting a pudding together and discovered that I was out of my normal bean flour, so I subbed soy flour. The color came out a lovely dark brown, and the flavor of the other ingredients was so dominant, that I couldn’t tell which flour had been used anyway.
Today, I saw that someone had been to my blog looking for a vegan version of this pudding, which started me thinking, and so I made another pudding. This one, too, got the thumbs up from my husband; I’m starting to suspect that he just likes pudding. For my vegan version, I used flax seed meal instead of the bean flour, and instead of the egg, I used an additional 4 fl. oz cider.
I pressure cook my pudding, because it saves energy, but if you don’t have a pressure cooker, then continue to steam the pudding conventionally (topping up with boiling water every hour or so) for 4 hours. Once cooked, the pudding can be left in the fridge (do not remove the cover) for a few weeks before reheating in a steamer for an hour on the big day. With traditional puddings, this deepens the flavor. As an aside, when I first cooked the vegan pudding, I couldn’t wait to see whether it had worked, but when I opened the top, it was far too liquid, and I thought it hadn’t worked. However, when it had cooled (and also after the reheating steam), it had firmed up correctly. Don’t leave it to the last minute to make this one. 🙂
18 oz dried fruit (raisins, cherries, cranberries)
1 oz slivered almonds
2 oz gram/chickpea flour (use 2 oz (1/2 cup) flax meal for vegan version)
4 oz brown sugar
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 oz margarine, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup (~4 oz) apple sauce
2 fl. oz cider/GF beer
2 tbsp dark rum / brandy
2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, beaten (use 4 fl. oz cider/GF beer for vegan version)
Make this at least one day ahead.
Prepare a 2 pint pudding basin by putting a circle of parchment paper in the bottom, and thoroughly greasing the inside of the basin with margarine.
In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients, except egg (if using).
Check for sweetness, and adjust if necessary.
Stir in the egg (if using).
Pack the mixture into the pudding basin. Put a sheet of baking parchment over the top of the basin (not touching the pudding), and a sheet of foil over that. Secure both in place with string to prevent steam from getting into the pudding. (The foil keeps the water out, and the parchment stops the pudding from touching the foil.)
Rest mixture for 1/2 hour to allow the baking powder to do its thing.
Put 2 inches of water in the bottom of a pressure cooker/saucepan which has a tight fitting lid and is big enough to contain the pudding basin with the lid on. Put a trivet or crossed forks in the bottom of the pan so the pudding basin doesn’t touch the bottom during cooking. Bring the water to a boil, and only then put the pudding into the pan, cover tightly (but not so as to bring it up to pressure – you want the pudding to rise), and reduce the temperature so the water simmers. Steam should always be evident, otherwise the cooking temperature won’t be correct.
Steam for 1 hour at atmospheric pressure, then another hour at pressure. Allow to come down from pressure slowly.
At this point, you can allow it to sit for a few weeks (so you don’t have to do all this on a busy cooking day) before steaming for an hour to reheat on the day.
If you want to flambe your pudding, then when the pudding it hot and ready to serve on a serving plate (and in place on the table away from flammable items, please don’t walk around with a plate of flames in your hands!), warm about quarter of a cup of brandy to just above blood temperature, pour the warm brandy over the pudding, and light it with a match. Turn off the lights and admire the view. You can either wait until the flames die down, or blow them out.