Heavenly Christmas Pudding
- Pudding basin or bowl preferably with rim so foil can be tucked in securely
- Large saucepan with tight-fitting lid big enough to hold the bowls
- Greaseproof paper circle to fit top of bowl
- Aluminum foil
When ready to make pudding, transfer the soaked fruit into a large mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Mix well. Rub the inside of the pudding bowl with coconut oil or olive oil and add the pudding mixture. Cover the top with circles of parchment paper that fit inside the bowl. Cover the top with aluminum foil, which you put a pleat in the middle to allow for expansion during the cooking process. Tuck the foil in well around the bowl to make sure no water or steam gets in while cooking.
Put the bowl into a large saucepan with tight-fitting lid. Fill the saucepan with enough water to come to within an inch of the top of bowl. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 4 hours. Check occasionally to make sure there’s enough water, and add some if it’s getting low.
It's traditional to make your puddings several months before Christmas and resteam on the day of your celebration. When ready to use, steam them again for about 2 hours.
To serve, turn out onto a platter and drizzle liberally with brandy—set it alight immediately to burn off the alcohol. Serve with vanilla custard or cashew ice cream.
- You can use other assortments of fruit such as currants, sultanas, dried figs, dried goji berries or cherries.
- I made mine last year using a lovely homemade liquor that a friend had given me in place of the brandy, and it was quite delicious. You could also use sherry, cointreau or even a dark beer like Guinness. If you prefer to make it without alcohol, you could use fruit juice.
- You could sweeten with maple syrup, honey or barley malt.
- Other ground nuts such as hazelnuts, cashews or pecans can be used in place of the almonds.
- Whole wheat pastry flour can be used in place of spelt, or for a gluten-free version you could use rice or amaranth flour. If you can’t find a gluten-free bread for making the crumbs, you can use more 1 more cup ground almonds or other ground nuts such as hazelnuts or cashews and 1 more cup of flour. These days, most health food stores carry a selection of gluten-free breads.
- I used coconut oil in place of the animal fat that’s traditionally used, but you could use ghee, butter or a vegan "butter" like Earth Balance instead.