Crimbo will shortly be upon us and one of my concessions to the season is making a Christmas pudding. It's really rather satisfying to serve up your pud at the end of a large festive feed and it's really quite easy, so why not have a go?
A Christmas pudding is basically a big ball of dried fruit and a bit of binding. The fruit can be more or less anything you like, and the stuff to bind is normally flour and breadcrumbs with maybe some ground almonds or something like that. A lot of recipes use eggs as the glue and sweeten the whole thing with a ton of sugar. All that dried fruit is pretty sweet anyway so I leave the sugar out and I glue it all together with a mixture of dates, milk, and treacle. Sounds ghastly, but it isn't.
Anyway, here's my recipe. It makes enough to fill a 1 litre basin. Feel free to substitute anything you don't like. This pudding comes out reasonably dense, so throw in a bit of grated carrot or apple to lighten it up if you want. Like I said, it's got no eggs so if you use oat milk and vegetable marg then it's vegan.
You will need
- 500g of dried fruit - raisins, sultanas, some currents, a few glace cherries, some mixed peel, anything really
- zest and juice of an orange or a lemon
- 125g flour
- 125g fresh bread crumbs - white, brown, light rye, whatever
- 125g ground almonds
- 125g chopped almonds
- a teaspoon or so of nutmeg
- teaspoon or thereabouts of mixed spice
- a teaspoon of ground ginger
- 150ml of milk, soya milk or oat milk or half and half milk and brandy/rum/sherry
- 200g butter or marg
- 250g dried dates
- 2 tablespoons of treacle
- Put all the dry ingredients, bar the dates, into a big bowl. Give it a jolly good mix. The flour and ground almonds will stick to the fruit, so keep going until it's all evenly distributed.
- Roughly chop the dates. Put them in a saucepan with the milk. Heat gently, stirring now and again, until the dates breakdown and it goes all mushy. Stick in the marg. Carry on stirring until it's all melted. Add the treacle, and give it another good stir.
- Pour the date mixture onto the dry ingredients. Add the zest and juice. Stir it thoroughly until everything is really well mixed - it will look brown and puddingy
- Pack the mixture into a greased pudding basin. Cover with a layer of greaseproof paper and then a layer of foil over that. If you're feeling keen, put a bit of a pleat in it. Tie the paper and foil tightly round the basin with string (you could get away with a rubber band, so long as it's really tight). Trim any excess off.
- Steam the pudding for four or five hours. A steamer is, obviously, ideal, but if you don't have one then just stand the basin in a large covered saucepan which is half full of water and simmer it as gently as you can.
- Stash the pudding away in a cool cupboard until you want to eat it. It'll keep for weeks. I've kept one for over a year with no ill-effects.
- When you're ready, steam it again for a couple of hours. Remove the paper and foil, put a plate over the top and then turn the whole thing over. The pudding will (should anyway, and I've never had one stick yet) drop out with a rather nice little sucking noise.
The steaming times aren't that critical - four hours then three, or six then an hour and half isn't going to do any harm. Do make sure the pan doesn't boil dry while simmering - top it up from the kettle as needed. If you're standing the pudding straight in the pan, make sure the water is below the level of the paper and foil.
If you need to get a pudding basin, you'll want a 1 litre basin to fit all this fruity goodness in. They're not expensive and you can get them from your local hardware place, or from somewhere like Woolies.