JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Friday, December 07, 2007

Very low fat Christmas pudding

I've made a version of this Christmas pudding once or twice in the past - one without suet (rock solid saturated animal fat), butter, or oils, just held softly together with eggs. I should think you could take out one or two of the egg yolks if you really wanted to reduce the saturated fat content - only then I think you'd need a little more spice, because the taste of an egg is in the yolk. No pictures, because I'm not making a pudding this year.

This is quick and easy. Worth making. Easy, because all you have to do is assemble, weigh and mix the ingredients. Quick, because that's it. Except that you have to make it ahead (which is a plus), although not weeks and weeks unless that's what suits. And except that you need to cook it twice for several hours. But you don't have to stand over it while it's cooking. So, as I said quick and easy. Wholesome ingredients and not a trace of an e-number. The only fat is in the three egg yolks, so it's ideal for those watching their cholesterol, as this will feed a lot of people.

Very low fat Christmas pudding

for up to 10

650g mixed dried fruit
200g fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
100g soft brown sugar
50g ground almonds
finely grated zest of 2 oranges
1 1/2 tsp mixed spice
3 large eggs
150 ml brandy

Measure everything into a large bowl. Stir well. Oil a large pudding basin, pour in the mixture. Cover with foil. You need to put a little pleat in the centre to give the pudding room to rise, and fix it tight (you can use string; these days I have some special cookery elastic bands which I got from Lakeland). Put this into a large saucepan, add enough cold water to come 2/3rds of the way up the bowl. Cover, bring to the boil, then simmer for 3 hours. You don't need to do anything apart from check the water level after a couple of hours. If it's low, add a little boiling water from a kettle.

The pudding needs to steam again in the same way for two hours before eating. OR, if you make the pudding in a plastic bowl, you could microwave it, because a microwave oven is basically a steamer, and therefore cooks steamed puddings to perfection in very little time. (As to timings, you'll have to consult your oven manual.)


After the first cooking I nearly always let this cool in the water, because it's less of a palaver. It's quite a good idea to change the foil before storing this somewhere cool, but I don't always bother. But the second time you cook it, you're really only heating it up, and you will need to get it out of the pan without burning yourself. One way to do this is to pull a long sheet of foil, long enough to cover the bottom of the saucepan and hang out on both sides. Fold this into three lengthwise, for strength, then drape it over the pan. Put your pudding basin onto it, and then, later, you can lift out the pudding using the foil cradle. Or you could use an old (clean) tea towel.

You can choose whatever fruit you like: figs are traditional (that's why the Victorians called it figgy pudding); I think candied peel is disgusting, even when I've bought the best and cut it myself; I'd rather have sultanas than raisins; if you're going to use cherries, the half-dried ones you can buy these days are nicer here than glace cherries.

Spice: either use mixed spice, or make your own mixture of cinnamon and nutmeg, perhaps a cloves.

If you want to add coins to your pudding, don't bother wrapping them up. Much better clean them - effortlessly, by soaking them overnight in Coca-cola. They'll turn out sparkling mint-clean - and you'll never again drink any cola drink.


Wendy said...

Christmas pudding has never been a tradition in our family and the calorific nature of it has never encouraged me to introduce it. Am now rethinking!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Sounds really lovely Joanna. Why couldn't you use egg substitute?

Joanna said...

Well worth a try, Wendy.

Tanna - there are things you can buy in your shops which we don't have here, and I think egg substitute may be one of them ... is it the same as powdered egg? And, if not, what's in it? And could you give me a brand name? I'm keen to experiment (I should probably ask my sister, who has lived in the States for 20 years and has now become an American citizen - she's always useful when I need help translating details!)

Joanna x

bee said...

dear joanna, do you have the faintest idea how much i love christmas pudding? thank you for this guilt-free recipe.

Figs Olives Wine said...

Fantastic Joanna! Thank you. It's so funny, I was just thinking about you b/c the St Nicholas cake I've got up right ow has olive oil instead of eggs and butter. I shall definitely do your Christmas pud this year at my parents' house. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this, Joanna!

Josefina da Fonte said...

i wouldn't worry about the eggs. Eggs are such a wonderfully healthy food, provided you can safely eat them, so ditch the substitute and eat the real thing.
Cholesterol is actually a very important healing substance, which is why you can find it lining the walls of arteries that have been damaged by processed foods (that contain oxidized vegetable oils), sugar, stress etc etc.
In our home we use lard, butter, beef tallow etc on a daily basis.

Anonymous said...

Could you boil this in a cloth? We have always cooked our suet ( and cholsterol )rich pudding in a cloth.

Joanna said...

Not sure, as I've never boiled a pudding in a cloth. You sound as if you do, so why don't you try th mic and see if the texture's right. The worst that can happen is you'll have a delish low fat pud. Will you let me know the outcome?