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For anyone who has seen me post on Christmas baking, with a schedule starting usually in October and continuing all the way until Christmas, you might assume I make Christmas pudding in June perhaps, or maybe the year before! Well you’d be half right, there is a pudding that is made months before, and I’ve enjoyed it up to a couple of years later in fact, but it’s made by my mum, not me. So, if we’re joining the extended GP family for Christmas we will usually have mum’s pudding, and sometimes she sends us an extra to eat at a more suitable time when the weather makes steamed pudding seem like a sensible idea. 🙂

For the other Christmases, where we don’t have the original steamed behemoth, sometimes we go for the all Australian pavlova, sometimes an ice cream terrine, once it was croquembouche, and sometimes, if we need something really last minute, we make this pudding. Now last minute is relative, it does steam for several hours, but in the context of Christmas, that’s pretty immediate, and more importantly, it has only six ingredients, all of them likely to be in your kitchen, especially at Christmas. I first tried this at my in-laws, as it’s the pudding Robyn makes each year, whipping it up after most of the other prep is done.

Now you will probably look at the list of ingredients, as I did, and wonder how on earth this becomes a pudding, let alone one that appears to have all the golden heft of the classic version. All I can say is that it works – it’s certainly much lighter than the often very stodgy classic, and not overly sweet, with all the sweetness coming from the banana and dried/glace fruit, but it is absolutely puddingy, and goes just as well with custard or the usual accompaniments. The other thing worth mentioning is that missing the usual ingredients, it is easily made both vegan and gluten-free – just use gluten-free bread for the crumbs, and your preferred milk. The one thing not to modify is the fruit. It is the main ingredient and source of flavour, so certainly choose your favourites, but use good quality, and do include some glace fruit for colour and sweetness.

Christmas Pudding

  • 1 large very ripe banana
  • 250 ml milk
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 2 c fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 2 c mixed dried fruit (I use raisins, currants, and glace cherries, apricots and peel)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Mash banana in a medium bowl. Mix bicarb and milk, and add to banana, followed by breadcrumbs, fruit, and lemon juice. If using large pieces of glace fruit, then chop finely before adding. The resulting mixture will be very sloppy, but that’s correct.

Grease a 1L pudding basin with butter, and line the base with a circle of baking paper. Pour in mixture and spread evenly. Cover with lid, or baking paper and foil, and place basin in a large saucepan with water to come halfway up the side. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer, and cover with a lid. Steam for 21/2 to 3 hours until firm and slightly springy, topping up saucepan with extra water if needed.

Turn out onto a large plate and serve with custard, brandy butter/sauce, or whatever you prefer. Extras keep for a few days and can be reheated by the slice in the microwave.

Serves 8-10