Monday, 23 November 2015

Christmas Pudding (Wheat- and Dairy Free), with Pressure Cooker Instructions

There's nothing I love more than good aul' traditional Christmas cooking: I love the meats, Paxo stuffing, and various incarnations of cooked potato that make up the dinner; I love mince pies, whether made in traditional or Polish style; and most of all, I love Christmas cake and pudding.

The difficulty of writing a blog about how to make Christmas pudding is that you can't unveil it until Christmas. As such, ye'll have to wait for photos; but ye all know what a Christmas pudding looks like anyway ^_^

PHOTOS!!
  
 My mother and I both have a wheat sensitivity, which is how I got into wheat-free cookery at all. My sensitivity comes and goes, but my mother's is permanent. This means she can't eat shop-bought traditional Christmas treats, and I've never once seen a wheat-free cake, pudding, or mince pie on sale ever. So for me, having the knowledge of how to do it myself makes this time of year incredibly busy...

Two key ingredients in a traditional Christmas pudding are suet and breadcrumbs. The tricky part of making a wheat-free Christmas pudding from scratch is trying to find suet that isn't dusted in wheat flour, and also trying to find something to use in place of breadcrumbs. Now the breadcrumbs is an easy swap, like I did in my treacle tarts recipe, by replacing it with ground almonds, but if there's still wheat flour in the suet all is lost. I did, luckily, find a way around this: I used block lard and grated it.

However, when one of your brothers is a vegetarian, you can't use normal lard, which is made of beef fat, you have to use vegetable lard. I found some eventually by scouring the fridges at my local supermarket. For those of you who don't know it by that name, it's basically a block of hard white vegetable fat; it's not soft like shortening.

FREE FROM
☑ Soya (check for soya lecithin)
☑ Yeast
☑ Wheat

CONTAINS
☒ Dairy (use substitute in italics for dairy free)
☒ Gluten
☒ Nuts
☒ Eggs
☒ Refined sugar products

INGREDIMENTS:
  • 1 pound (455 grammes) mixed dried fruit of your choice: currants, raisins, sultanas, candied peel, prunes (chopped), glacé cherries (chopped and thoroughly rinsed), dried cranberries, etc.
  • 1 medium cooking apple, peeled, cored, and grated
  • 1 shot (42 millilitres) spiced rum, or whiskey
  • 6½ fluid ounces (185 millilitres) hot black tea, or stout for the adventurous
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 4 ounces (115 grammes) ground almonds
  • ½ teaspoon (3 millilitres) ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon (3 millilitres) grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon (3 millilitres) ground ginger
  • 4 ounces (115 grammes) vegetable fat in a block
  • 2 tablespoons (30 millilitres) plain white spelt flour, or gluten free flour
  • 4 ounces (115 grammes) light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 millilitres) treacle
  • Grated zest of half a lemon
  • Grated zest of half an orange

HOW-TO:
  • In a large glass bowl, put the dried fruit, grated apple, hot tea (or stout), and rum (or whiskey) and allow to soak overnight, covered with a tea towel.
  • The next day, put the flour and spices into a small bowl, and mix until combined. Grate in the block vegetable fat, tossing the shreds in the flour mixture with a fork between each run down the grater. This stops it from clumping together in a big mess.
  • Beat the eggs one at a time into the soaked fruit, then add in the remaining ingredients, mixing well between ingredients, and making sure to add the flour and fat mixture last.
  • Prepare a 2 pint (1 litre) pudding basin by greasing it well with butter or margarine, then pour in the mixture, smoothing out the top. Cut out a circle of greaseproof paper to cover the surface of the pudding, then put the basin's lid on.
  • If the basin doesn't have a lid, get a piece of foil big enough to cover the top of the pudding basin. Fold a pleat in the middle, and then cover the basin, making sure the pleat ends up across the middle. Secure with twine, and make a twine handle to lift the pudding in and out of the steamer.
  • Follow one of the cooking techniques below. Once fully cooked, remove from the heat and take off the lid (or foil covering). Replace the greaseproof paper cover with a fresh one, then put the lid back on, or cover with foil. Wrap the whole basin in cling film or foil, and leave in a cool dark place until Christmas.

To cook in a saucepan,
  • Put a trivet or upturned saucer into the bottom of a very large saucepan. Lower the pudding basin into the pan, sit it on the saucer or trivet, and then fill the pan with boiling water to halfway up the side of the basin. Cover the pan, put on a high heat, and bring to the boil. 
  • Once boiling, reduce the temperature to medium to maintain a steady but gentle boil, and steam the pudding for 5 hours.
  • After 5 hours, remove the basin from the pan and uncover to check the doneness of the pudding: press the surface of the pudding with your finger, and it should spring back like a sponge. To test with a cocktail stick, stick it into the centre of the pudding, and if it comes out with a few sticky crumbs clinging to it, it's fully cooked.
  • If it's not fully cooked, return to the pan and cook for a further 30 minutes.

To cook in a pressure cooker,
  • Once you have filled the pot with boiling water as instructed above, cover and lock the lid, bring to full pressure, then reduce the heat to medium-low and steam for an hour.
  • After an hour, release the pressure either naturally or with the steam valve. Check the doneness as above. If it needs a bit longer, cover and lock the pan and bring to full pressure once more, then cook for a further 10 to 15 minutes before checking again.

This pudding goes very well with custard, or with whipped cream; if you're feeling particularly adventurous, you could even have vanilla ice-cream. I've never been an eater of brandy cream, but I'm sure that'd also be nice.

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