Rich Gluten-free Xmas Pud

This is a very traditional-tasting, rich, dark pudding. Yummy!   Its more intense than my normal gluten-free pud (a light, cakey version) which is also posted on this blog.  The recipe is adapted from Jamie Oliver’s gluten-free pud recipe – I removed refined sugar/golden syrup and added blackstrap molasses and low GI xylitol/coconut sugar which are healthier.   Thanks Jamie! I made 2 puds from this, one in a 1 litre bowl, that would give about 6 servings, and another small one that gives 4 modest servings.

You can make this pudding well ahead of time. In fact, 25 November is Stir-Up Sunday, the traditional day to make Christmas puddings.  Soak the fruit the day BEFORE you want to cook the puds.  Using dried fruit free from sulphur dioxide (used to preserve colour) is preferable as it can cause digestive symptoms and headaches in susceptible people.

If you can at all, use metal or ceramic pudding bowls.  Cooking puds in plastic means  toxic bisphenol A (BPA) residues leech into the food – mot something you want if you care about your health.  If you havn’t wrapped a pud for steaming before you will see instructions here

100 g currants
150 g raisins
110 g dried sour cherries (from health stores. dried cranberries would do instead)
50g chopped dates
1 organic lime, the grated zest and juice of
½ an organic orange , the grated zest and juice of
50g mixed peel
75 ml tea, cooled (I use 1 tbs grated ginger root with a rooibosch teabag for extra flavour but you can just use normal tea if you want. If using ginger, strain out before using the tea)
Level teaspoon mixed spice
½ level tsp ground cinnamon
½ level tsp grated nutmeg
2½ tbs (40 ml) brandy
40g xylitol (or 40g coconut sugar which gives a nice caramel flavour)
1 level tbs blackstrap molasses
1 medium or large cooking apple,peeled and grated
50g roughly chopped almonds (sometimes I use flaked to save time)
25g rice flour
25 g cornflour
110g fresh gluten-free breadcrumbs (M&S now do a round GF loaf that’s slightly better quality than most GF sliced pan breads.  If you are OK with dairy products you can also use Kelkin white sourdough gluten free bread which is free of industrial emulsifiers))
1 rounded tsp gluten-free baking powder
110g gluten-free suet (available online or see below for how to make it).  You can substitute butter or coconut oil but these melt quickly and do tend to boil out of the pudding but if you are dairy-sensitive and want to avoid animal products or dairy…)
2 large free-range eggs , beaten (if your eggs are medium, add an extra egg)
1 large free-range egg yolk , beaten
Butter, coconut or light olive oil to grease

  1. In a large bowl combine the dried fruits, zests and mixed peel, then add the citrus juice, cold tea, spices and brandy, and leave overnight for the flavours to develop.
  2. The following day, add the coconut sugar, xylitol or coconut sugar, blackstrap molasses, apple and almonds.
  3. In a clean bowl, place the rice flour, cornflour, breadcrumbs, baking powder, coconut oil or suet and a pinch of salt. Add in the beaten eggs until you have a smooth mix, then stir into the fruit.
  4. Grease a 1.5-litre pudding basin and pour in the pudding mixture until it’s ⅔ full. Cover the top with a circle of greaseproof paper, then with 2 pieces of foil and secure with string. Or use a 1 litre and a smaller pudding bowl to make 2 puds.
  5. Place an upturned saucer into the base of a deep saucepan. Sit the pudding on top of the saucer, and carefully pour in boiling water to come halfway up the pudding dish. Put the lid on and steam for 8 hours (yes, 8!). According to Delia Smith DO NOT open the lids during the first half hour of steaming or you will prevent the puds from rising properly.
  6. According to Delia you should then allow the puds to get completely cold before removing the tinfoil and paper and replacing with fresh ones, again tied with string for easy manoevering on Christmas day.
  7. On Christmas Day: Fill a saucepan quite full with boiling water, put on the heat and when it comes back to the boil, place a steamer on top of the pan and turn it down to a gentle simmer. Put the pudding in the steamer, cover and leave to steam for 2 hrs 15 mins. You’ll need to check the water from time to time and maybe top it up a bit. When you are ready to serve the pudding, remove from the steamer and take off the wrapping. Slide a palette knife all round the pud and turn out onto a warmed plate. Place a suitable sized sprig of holly on top.

How to make suet
I had my first experiment with this in 2020 because there was only one online supplier and I was tired of buying online.  Suet is made by grating or extruding leaf lard (pure, raw beef/pork fat)  and then tossing it in some flour to keep it from clumping.  Its best not to use lamb fat because its got a very strong flavour.  Get a good butcher to save pork/beef fat for you and ask for at least double what you need because you will want to discard any pink bits.  I give the pink bits to the birds who are desperate for extra calories at this time of year.
Instructions: freeze your suet, then pick through and remove any pink bits.  Grate as much as you need for the recipe then toss in a teaspoon or two of gluten-free flour (rice flour will do).  This can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge.  It will keep for ages.

Why this is (somewhat) better for you:
Gluten has a temporary damaging effect on your small intestine even when you are not gluten-sensitive or coeliac.  Gluten causes the tight junctions between absorptive cells to become unstuck for several hours.  This means that undigested food particles, gut bacteria and other debris can enter your bloodstream unchecked (this is called increased intestinal permeability).  This can cause symptoms as diverse as joint pain, mood problems, headaches and tiredness to name but a few.  Because it inflames you this lowers your ability to fight viral and other infections.

This recipe avoids using highly refined sugars, which is good news if you want to avoid sabotaging energy levels, skin and digestive health.  Blackstrap molasses is rich in chromium and iron needed for energy and metabolising the sugar.  Getting the unsweetened sour cherries gives a lovely tang but also avoids the added sugars in glace fruit (including dried cranberries).  The recipe still contains corn flour, which is a refined product though, and the large amount of dried fruits means Xmas pud is high in natural sugars and so is not a vitality-boosting food.  Still though, sometimes, who cares…..