This traditional fruit pudding is not to everyone’s taste, but I still feel like Christmas Day is only complete after the pudding’s been set on fire and served with lashings of custard (yes custard – I’ve never been a brandy butter kind of person, even before I went dairy free!)
I make a Christmas pud every year, although the recipe has been tweaked a few times as my diet choices changed. Initially I faithfully followed Delia’s recipe in her Christmas cook book, ticking off the long list of ingredients as I went along. That was after the annual hunt for stout and barley wine which no one seems to stock any more! I graduated from traditional suet to vegetable (once I realised what it was!),then cut out the eggs when I went plant-based. But once I changed again to a whole-food, low fat way of eating the suet had to go.
Why? Because it is loaded with saturated fat – nearly 50g in 100g of suet (that’s A LOT!).
So what exactly is suet? Vegetable suet is made with a selection of vegetable fats, usually palm and sunflower oil, mixed with a little flour so it forms a crumbly texture rather than a hard lump. Some brands use rice flour so that it’s suitable if you’re gluten free, but at 85% refined fats, it’s definitely off the menu for anyone eating a whole-food plant-based diet. Particularly if you are eating this way to prevent, manage or reverse a health problem. This level of saturated fat is definitely not part of the Overcoming MS programme for example.
But that doesn’t mean that Christmas pudding is off the menu. The saturated fat had to go, but the flavour and texture needed to stay. After a bit of trial and error, I came down to my usual fall back – use more veg! Or to be specific, use carrot. It works in carrot cake, so why not Christmas pud?
This pud is lighter that traditional recipes, which is a good thing after a big lunch! It can be made gluten free and nuts are optional, so nut free if needed. Steaming does take some time though; initially 6 hours in a steamer with another couple of hours before you want to serve it. I have cooked it in a pressure cooker for 70 minutes and that worked ok, so that might be an option for you.
Of course, the best thing about making your own Christmas pud is that you can get the flavours just how you want them; use the spice, citrus and alcohol measurements as a rough guide, adding more or less depending on what you like.
Even with the vegetables, fresh fruit and healthful spices, this still is not a diet pud! There is a heavy sugar load due to the amount of dried fruit. But very little added sugar, which I really don’t think is needed. But if you need to be careful with your overall sugar intake, take care with your portion size!
I hope you enjoy making this lighter, lower fat, plant-based alternative to traditional Christmas pudding. This is the recipe I shared during my recent live Christmas Pudding cooking class and the participants were very happy with their efforts, now all wrapped up and kept cool ready for Christmas Day (the puds, not the participants!) If you give this a go, do let me know how you get on. And if you want to know more about my cooking classes, check out this page.
- 2 large bowls
- 1x1 litre or 2x500ml pyrex bowls
- greaseproof paper
- tin foil
- small grater
- spoons and sharp knife
- 250 ml strong tea
- 425 grams mixed dried fruit
- 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 1 medium apple
- 2 T brandy optional
- 100 grams carrot
- 1 medium orange, zest and juice
- 200 grams self-raising flour GF optional
- 110 grams breadcrumbs gluten free if needed
- 1 teaspoon ground all spice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- pinch cloves
- 50 grams coconut sugar optional
- 50 grams sliced almonds optional
- Weigh out the dried fruit into a large bowl. Add strong tea and mix to combine. Leave to soak for at least 4 hours (do overnight if easier)
- Add the ground flaxseed and orange juice to the soaked dried fruit and stir well. Leave to thicken slightly.
- Weigh out the flour, breadcrumbs, spices, coconut sugar and sliced almonds (if using) in a large bowl.
- Finely chop the apple, grate the carrot and orange rind and add them to the bowl. Mix well.
- Add the brandy (if using) to the mixed fruit mix.
- Lightly grease the inside of the pyrex bowl/s with a couple of squirts of olive oil.
- Add the fruit mix to the flour mix and stir thoroughly to make sure everything is well combined. If the family is around, get them to give it a stir and make a wish. Or keep or the wishes to yourself!
- Spoon the mix into the prepared bowl and pack it down, pressing with the spoon.
- Make sure there's plenty of water in the steamer and put it on the hob to heat.
- Wrap the bowl in a double layer of greaseproof paper then wrap again in tin foil. Tie the string around the outside and make a handle - this will help you lift the bowl out of the steamer without burning your fingers.
- Place in the steamer and cook for 6 hours. Keep an eye on the water level in the steamer and top up as needed - you don't want it to burn dry or the smoke alarm will go crazy.
- Remove from the steamer and leave to cool.
- Once cold, peel off the foil and greaseproof paper and replace with fresh. Keep in a cool place.
- On Christmas Day, steam again for 2-3 hours before serving.