High on flavour with some interesting ingredient additions, we're lifting the dull old brown splodge that people sometimes manage to buy at the last minute for their Poor Old GF Friends, into a brighter, sharper and more sophisticated event. Although we've included citrus zest for a great flavour there are no lumps of candied peel that can really put some people some people off this great traditional dish.
Delving into the old cookery books to discover the spices that that traditionally go into our puddings, ground coriander came as a bit of a surprise (we're used to finding it in our favourite dhal recipe and not in a sweet pudding), so we made our own spice blend from scratch, and really enjoyed the process of sourcing, grinding, sniffing and balancing. You will need a well buttered 900ml pudding basin, parchment paper, tin foil, a large rubber band and string, plus a steamer basket to fit into a stockpot or large saucepan..
NB Start by soaking the dried fruit in Calvados for 24 hours. We have used good quality organic ingredients wherever possible; go for the chewy dried cherries - not glace cherries - they have a much better flavour and texture, and the barberries, long used in Persian cookery add a subtle edge.
For the fruit mixture:
60g dried cherries (not glace cherries)
50g Flame raisins
50g dried figs (not the squidgy semi-dried)
50g dried dates
50g dried, unsulphured apricots
10g dried barberries (semi-dried and coated with vegetable oil)
5 tbsp Calvados (apple brandy is gluten-free)
50g brown teff flour
75g brown muscovado sugar
50g toasted almond flakes, roughly chopped
2 medium eggs
75g unsalted butter
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange
70g grated cooking apple
1 tbsp organic molasses
1tbsp pomegranate molasses
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp ground psyllium husk
1½ tsp ground Ceylon cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
1. The day before making the pudding, roughly chop the dates, apricots and cherries, put all the dried fruit into a bowl, add the Calvados and stir thoroughly, cover tightly and leave to soak for 24 hours.
2. Weigh the flour, sugar, salt and psyllium husk into a large mixing bowl and stir thoroughly.
3. Add the 6 ground spices and combine thoroughly.
4. In another bowl beat the eggs with an electric hand whisk until fluffy.
5. Add the molasses and the pomegranate molasses and whisk again.
6. Add the lemon and orange zest and whisk again.
7. Pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and beat.
8. Add the melted butter and beat again.
9. Lastly add the soaked fruit and the chopped nuts - everyone can help stir and make a wish.
10. Spoon the mixture into the buttered basin and smooth the top with the back of a spoon.
11. Cut a circle of parchment to exactly fit the top of the pudding, and cut a small circle in the middle of this to let the steam escape.
12. Put together a sheet of foil and a sheet of parchment, both about 5 inches longer than wide, and pleat it in the middle to allow for steam expansion during cooking.
13. Place this foil side out over the top of the basin and fold down the sides, secure with the rubber band.
14. Tie string tightly around the top of the basin, and make a string handle to aid lifting the basin out of the boiling water.
15. Put the basin in your steamer, fill with hot water to half way up the sides, and put on a gentle heat to steam for 4 hours, topping up the water as necessary.
16. Remove the foil when cold, replace with new foil and parchment ready to re-heat on Christmas day - 2 hours will be sufficient.
17. Serve with brandy butter and enjoy the flavours!