Almost as good as chocolate!

As I looked for vegan recipes to make the holidays lighter and brighter, I came across this brilliant vegan interpretation of the traditional (steamed) Christmas pudding I enjoyed so much when I lived in England.  In fact, after my return to the US in 1992, we made and gave away dozens of small Xmas puddings every year … until I realized that most Americans aren’t familiar with steamed puddings in general, and don’t really care for the super-rich traditional version in particular.  So about ten years ago I gave up.

Now that I have my own house again, it’s been a pleasure to adapt some of these traditional recipes to more a vegetarian or vegan approach.  This particular recipe has been adapted from the one created by Anna Jones, recently published in the UK Guardian.  Once you’vc assembled the ingredients, it only takes about ten minutes to combine them;  the pudding can steam gently in the background while you work on the rest of the meal.

Oh, MY! Vegan Christmas Pudding

Both vegan and gluten-free, this recipe is so much easier and better than the typical heavy traditional Xmas pud. Instead of steaming for three hours, you can steam this in a pressure cooker or InstaPot for one hour. (Make sure your pudding basin will fit in the InstaPot before attempting to steam!)

This quantity actually makes two medium-sized puddings; I steamed one and did the other in a pressure cooker – they were equally delicious. If any is left over, this pudding is even better fried in a little butter (or coconut oil for vegans). Even cold it makes a terrific dessert for a picnic; a few years ago, my Scottish stepmother took the leftovers on a day-long hike, and her walking group loved it so much, she barely got a taste herself!

Prep 20 min; cooking time 3 hours (in steamer); each pudding serves 6-8.

Ingredients:

Five pieces fresh ginger, finely chopped, or 2 Tbsp ginger paste/puree
4 oz apricots, finely chopped
4 oz prunes, finely chopped
4 oz sultanas (golden raisins)
4 oz marzipan, cut or crumbled into 1cm cubes
5 oz plain flour (I use gluten-free flour)
4 oz vegetable suet – I use Crisco vegan solid sticks
4 oz light brown granulated sugar
6 oz ground almonds
1 tsp ground ginger
Zest and juice of two large oranges – Navel oranges work well
Zest of two lemons, finely chopped
1 fl oz sherry
¼ tsp sea salt
6-8 fl oz oat milk or other plant milk – I use a mixture of almond and coconut milk
Also have available some light vegetable oil, for greasing the pudding basins, and some greaseproof paper or baking parchment.

Method:

  1. Rub oil evenly around the inside of two medium pudding basins or one-quart heatproof pudding bowls. (I use medium-sized glass bowls). Place a circle of oiled parchment in the bottom of each bowl to make the pudding easier to unmold afterwards.
  2. Mix together the ginger, apricots, prunes, sultanas, and marzipan in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients apart from the plant milk, and mix together with a wooden spoon.
  3. Add the plant milk and stir until you have a thick batter, then spoon it all into the greased basins. (I like to leave the pudding in a covered bowl overnight to develop the flavors.)
  4. Cut two sheets of greaseproof paper or baking parchment into circles big enough to cover and hang over the rim of each bowl. Oil each paper circles, place over the pudding in the basin, then cover with a piece of aluminum foil. Press down the foil to secure the oiled paper, then use string or a heavy rubber band to secure the edge tightly. Trim the foil afterwards so there isn’t a lot of spare handing down.
  5. If using a steamer, put the steamer plate in the bottom with the pudding basin on top. Pour water into the pan until it comes halfway up the side of the bowl. Bring to a boil, then cover with a lid and simmer on a low heat for three hours, checking water level regularly.
  6. If using a pressure cooker, put in the steamer plate, add water to halfway up the pudding basin, and bring up to pressure. Cook under pressure for one hour.
  7. When cooking is complete, take the pan off the heat and allow to cool with the lid off for 20-30 minutes until the pudding basin can be handled. Unwrap the pudding, then invert onto a plate.
  8. Alternatively, leave the pudding to cool in its foil package. Replace the greaseproof paper and foil with fresh layers, then wrap completely in aluminum foil. Place in the fridge or in a cool, dry place until needed. If well wrapped, this pudding will keep up to four months. When ready to serve, you can steam the pudding again for 30 minutes until it is warmed through.
  9. Traditionally, the pudding is brought in flambéed: warm 1-2 oz brandy or rum in a metal ladle, set fire to the spirits, and pour gently over the pudding. Serve in wedges, and hand around brandy butter or high-quality butter pecan ice cream.

For the printer-friendly .pdf file, click HERE.

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