The season of festivities has begun and while I may be the Christmas Grinch of my family, I still enjoy a good Christmas recipe.
This pudding is not really a pudding and I have no idea why they call it that. It’s a lot more cake than pudding but it is steamed in a water bath for 4 hours on a slow simmer, which is the only resemblance it may share with pudding.
Here in Egypt and the Middle East, there can be plenty of issues in baking a traditional Christmas pudding. The first issue would be finding suet. And even if you did find it it could be considered a non-Halal fat product if it contains pork fat. Speaking of Halal, there would also be the problem of the alcohol and lighting up the pudding.
In the pursuit of bringing this underrated Christmas dessert to my followers in Egypt and the Middle East, I developed a recipe that sources all of its ingredients from the region and does not necessarily require the flambée show. The recipe for the pudding itself is sugar-free (not counting all of the sugar in the dried fruit though :)) which gives it some additional plus points in the health department. As I used the base recipe by the real Naked Chef: Jamie Oliver; who added Medjool dates and dried apricots to his Christmas pudding, I thought they are also very typical to the region and easy to find.
You could just toss all of the ingredients in a big bowl, stir them together and then bake, or more accurately steam the pudding but I strongly recommend that you soak the dried fruit in the warm milk for at least an hour before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.
Let’s get to it!
- 150 g Medjool dates, pitted and chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 150 g dried apricots, coarsely sliced
- 50 g crystallized ginger, finely diced
- 150 g dried cranberries
- 150 g raisins
- 150 g pecans, coarsely chopped
- 75 g almonds, coarsely chopped
- 25 g candied orange peel, finely sliced
- 300 g AP flour
- 200 g butter, melted
- 300 ml milk, warmed up
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Few grates of nutmeg
- Florets of 2 sprigs of thyme or some finely chopped rosemary leaves
- Dressing options:
- Treacle (aka Molasses)
- Icing sugar
- Greek yogurt icing (1 cup full fat Greek yogurt + 1/2 cup icing sugar)
- In a large mixing bowl toss all of the dried fruit and the warm milk and let it sit for at least 30 minutes.
- Add all the other ingredients to the bowl (apart from your choice of dressing of course) and mix everything well until thoroughly combined.
- Grease the pudding mold and scoop the mixture into the mold, making sure to firmly pack and press all of the batter after scooping each batch/layer.
- Once all of the batter is in the mold, cover it with kitchen foil and tie a string around the top (actually the bottom if you look at it the right-side-up) of the mold to secure the foil cover.
- Place the mold in a water bath of boiling water, cover the pot and steam on medium-low heat for 4 hours.
- After 4 hours, carefully take the mold out of the water bath and let it cool for 20 minutes.
- Remove the foil to uncover the mold and use a plate to flip it upside down. Slowly pull away the mold and voila!
- Enjoy your non-alcoholic Christmas pudding with any of the dressings listed above. Or go traditional and light up some alcohol and pour it over this baby!
Merry Christmas to you all!