When I was a child and especially a teenager I used to to imagine that when I would grow up, I would choose to travel all around the world during Christmas, in order to come in contact with other cultures, different customs and traditions. However, every time I’ve traveled during Christmas holidays in northern destinations, I had a really hard time with the cold weather, which seemed a very hostile condition to a tropical climate enthusiast like me – I used to live in a place where one could go swimming at Christmas! Therefore, I had to invent other ways to fulfill my childhood dreams and experience other cultures without leaving the relatively warm Greek climate.
Fortunately for me it was not that hard. As a true food lover, even the smell of food, the image and the taste of a juicy dessert, prepared according to authentic recipes of different countries, are enough to make me travel mentally miles away in space and time, in countries and cities that I would actually like to visit only during summer, when the temperatures raise above zero. That’ s how we started incorporating recipes, music and customs from other countries in our house, making Christmas a multicultural, peaceful day. One of our favorite recipes is the traditional English Christmas pudding.
So every year, in the last weekend of November – right, November! – me and my partner, decorate the house with colorful Christmas lights and a Christmas tree and afterwards we prepare together our vegan English Christmas pudding. It may seem too early, but according to tradition, Christmas pudding has to be prepared at least one month before Christmas, in order to age and acquire its full taste and flavor. If one month seems a lot, let’s just say that in England, they used to prepare this dessert even one year before, shortly after Christmas.
This is a recipe that really works, it is super tasty and probably noone will notice that it’s vegan. What I really like about it is that each small bite has a strong taste of Christmas, cinnamon, fruits and brandy. Even though it takes quite a lot ingredients and patience, it is really worth trying.
- 150 g. dried figs
- 200 g. dried cranberries
- 150 g. sultanas
- 100 g. black raisins (or more sultanas)
- 200 g. dried apricots
- 150 g. candied ginger
- 200 g. candieded citrus or orange peel
- 125 g. mixed candied or dried fruit, with or without sugar such as pineapple, papaya, various berries, cherries
- 2 small green apples, coarsely grated
- 1 large carrot peeled and coarsely grated
- 2 oranges (juice and zest)
- 1 lemon (juice and zest)
- 225 g. brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 100 g. margarine (I use a homemade)
- 150 g. bread, crumbled
- 180 g. all purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
- 40 ml rum
- 40 ml brandy
- 40 ml port wine or liqueur of your choice (orange liqueur is my favorite)
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp soda
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
40 ml rum or brandy
Powdered sugar or “drunk” vanilla sauce
For the “drunk” vanilla sauce
- 150 ml vegan milk (preferably homemade such as almond or coconut milk)
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 ½ tbsp rice starch or corn starch
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 shots of rum or brandy
1. Chop all the dried fruits (except from the cranberries and raisins which do not need to chopping) and place them in a bowl together with the flaxseed. Pour in the bowl the alcoholic beverages, mix and allow to marinate for 1 hour.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl: flour, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, baking powder and soda.
3. Melt margarine in a saucepan and put it in a large bowl together with the sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon and add gradually the juice of the citrus fruits and the zest. Add the dried fruit together with the remaining soaking liquid, the grated apples, the grated carrots, the crumbled bread and the flour. Stir for a while, until completely homogenized.
4. Prepare a metal pudding mould of 2 liter capacity or use two smaller of 1 liter capacity.
Brush or spray the inner of the mould with some oil or margarine and lay its bottom with a round piece of greaseproof paper, equal to the diameter of the bottom. Fill the mould up to ¾ of its volume. Cut another round piece of greaseproof paper with a diameter equal to the mouth of the mould and press with your hands to cover the dough.
5. Cover the pan with more greaseproof paper tying it around tightly, using a string suitable for food.
Place the mould in a pot of water. The water should reach the ¾ of the height of the mould.
Put to simmer for 5-6 hours on low heat, but from time to time add some boiling water in the pot as it evaporates while simmering.
6. Let cool and put in a cool and dry place (over the cupboard maybe) for one month, covered and tight with the greaseproof paper. This procedure of aging is necessary for the perfect combination of flavors. Thanks to the alcohol, sugar and dried fruit it is not going to spoil but in contrast it becomes tastier as time passes.
7. How to serve: The pudding can be served plain or sprinkled with powdered sugar or with a creamy sauce. Usually I prepare one hour before serving the vanilla sauce as follows: in a saucepan, add the milk, the sugar, the vanilla and the starch and stir to dissolve as we don’t want any lumps. Put the mixture to cook over medium heat and stir constantly until it thickens and comes to boil. Remove from heat and add the brandy, stirring constantly. Transfer the cream to a glass bowl and cover its surface with a film so as not to form crust. Boil the pudding again for about one hour before serving, with the procedure described above. Then invert on a serving platter, remove the greaseproof paper, pour with 40 ml rum or brandy and flambe. This process is very impressive and your guests will surely enjoy it! Cut into pieces and serve with the cream.