Right, let’s get down to business.
Christmas pudding: yay or nay?
I’m going to be honest with you all: I’ve never really been that fussed about it. A steamed pudding is pretty much the last thing I want to eat after hours of near-constant nib-grazing (I find diminutive snacks unutterably compelling), a devilishly rich starter (yes, we do starters – it’s mad I tell you, MAD), and a gargantuan roast dinner.
But the thing is, my family are rather fond of it. So I’ve decided to take things into my own hands – if I don’t want uber-rich, stodgy pudding, I need to put forth an acceptable alternative lest war break out and my brother declare that “Christmas is cancelled” (such exclamation reserved for any suggestion of deviation, however small, from tradition. Such as the shocking absence of brandy butter last time I hosted *gasp*).
So I spent Stir-up Sunday developing this gem of a recipe, stirring up and making wishes. And this pudding is a BELTER. A little lighter than the usual pudding, it is still full of fruit, including – rather unusually these days – figs, which give a lovely, slightly crunchy texture. It’s also got wondrous, aromatic orange running through it – thanks to orange zest and the star of the festive show, Cointreau. And if all that isn’t enough, it uses crushed amaretti biscuits instead of breadcrumbs – YUM.
The idea of making your pudding on the last Sunday before Advent is that it gives the pudding time to mature, like a good bottle of red or a stinky cheese. To let the flavours really get to know each other and get all mellow and complex. So some of you might be wondering how I have photos of the finished pudding already…well…my boyfriend and I had a little peek after its first steam and it just smelt so divine, so we convinced each other that this one should just be the dress rehearsal. Sorry, Mum.
So now I need to make another pudding. And then hide it until Christmas Day.
p.s. I nearly forgot: this pudding is gluten-free and dairy-free too *another gasp*. In fact, it’s basically just booze.
Orange & almond figgy Christmas pudding
Makes 1-pint pudding – serves 4-5
- smidge sunflower oil, for greasing
- 70g raisins
- 70g sultanas
- 70g soft dried figs, chopped into pieces
- 20g almonds, chopped into pieces
- grated zest and juice 1 orange
- 50ml Cointreau
- 40g gluten-free* self-raising flour
- 60g amaretti biscuits, smashed/blitzed into breadcrumbs
- 40g veggie gluten-free* suet
- 40g soft dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- pinch / 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- sterilised sixpence, optional
*I made a gluten-free version but feel free to use normal self-raising flour and normal suet too if that’s not important to you.
Lightly grease a 1-pint plastic pudding basin and lid with sunflower oil and line the base with a circle of baking paper.
Place the raisins, sultanas, figs, almonds, orange zest and juice, and Cointreau into a mixing bowl and set aside to steep for a bit. Tip: A few hours would be ideal but if you don’t have much time, no worries!
Add the dry ingredients (flour, amaretti breadcrumbs, suet, sugar and spices) and then the egg, and give it all a good stir. Tip: Stir in your sixpence, if using, and make your wish now!
Once mixed, pour into your prepared basin, push the mixture down to get rid of any air bubbles, and level the top. Pop the lid on and wrap in clingfilm and then silver foil, ensuring your pudding will be safe and dry throughout.
Steam in a saucepan of gently simmering water for 3 hours with the lid firmly on. Tip: Rest the pudding on an upturned saucer so it doesn’t get too hot on the bottom, and start with the water about half-way up the pudding. Check occasionally and top up as required.
Allow to cool fully, unwrap and replace with fresh clingfilm and foil. Store in cool, dry place for up to 2 months.
On the big day: Reheat by steaming for another 1.5 hours. Unwrap and turn out – it should slip out easily. Don’t forget to peel off the baking paper disc! Heat some Cointreau in a small saucepan, carefully set alight with a long match or lighter, and, at the table, pour over the pudding.
CAUTION: IF YOU HAVE ADDED A SIXPENCE INTO YOUR PUDDING, PLEASE DO NOT TRY TO REHEAT IN THE MICROWAVE – SPARKS WILL FLY!!
Source: Recipe and photos by pip & little blue.