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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Gluten-Free Chocolate Orange Christmas Pudding

Gluten-Free Chocolate Orange Christmas Pudding

Gluten-Free Chocolate Orange Christmas Pudding – the BEST Christmas pudding ever!

I’ve always loved Christmas pudding, even as a kid and this is the BEST I’ve ever had; think traditional Christmas pud crossed with a Terry’s Chocolate Orange (in a good way, naturally). Because the boozy back notes are being provided by liqueurs rather than brandy or rum, the chocolaty, fruitiness is amplified to delicious effect. If you’re not concerned about making this recipe gluten-free, you can simply use regular breadcrumbs and flour.

Making this is actually dead simple, but the cooking requires some knowledge of how to properly steam a pudding so this post is a bit longer than usual with extra pictures that will hopefully be helpful; whilst I already knew how to steam a pudding, I was banging on about making my pud over on Twitter and the friendly folk from Mason Cash sent me this video which you might find useful if you’ve never done it before.

A few things to bear in mind before embarking on making this pudding: creme de cacao isn’t the easiest liqueur to get hold of, but there are online retailers that sell it, or you could see if you can buy a couple of shots from your local cocktail bar (I got my bottle of the stuff whilst on holiday), or if you can find another chocolate liqueur (not cream based) then use that; you’ll need to be at home for eight hours while your pudding steams in order to make sure that the pan doesn’t boil dry, so plan ahead when you’re going to do this and steep your fruit the day/night before; you’ll need a 1.5 litre pudding bowl, either plastic or a heat proof glass bowl (Pyrex or similar); you’ll also need a large enough saucepan for the pudding bowl to fit in, with a little extra room so you can rest it on a trivet or jam jar (to keep the bowl off the bottom of the pan) and still get a lid on it; so yes, you also need a small metal trivet or a jam jar too; to cover your pudding bowl you’ll need greaseproof paper and foil, and some string to secure it to the bowl.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Orange Christmas Pudding


  • 150g glace cherries, chopped
  • 100g dried apricots, chopped
  • 100g sultanas
  • 20g dried, mixed peel (if you happen to have it, don’t buy it especially for this recipe)
  • 1 tbsp orange liqueur (I used Cointreau, but Grand Marnier or similar is fine)
  • 4 tbsp creme de cacao
  • 2 oranges
  • 100g butter, softened
  • 100g soft dark brown sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 75g gluten-free bread crumbs
  • 75g gluten-free plain flour
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 200g dark chocolate, chips or chopped into small chunks
  • 50g chopped almonds

The day or night before you’re going to steam your pudding, put the cherries, apricots, sultanas, peel (if using), finely grated zest and juice of both oranges and the liqueurs in a bowl. Cover and leave to soak overnight.

On the day of pudding making, put the butter and sugars in a large bowl and cream together. Then beat in the eggs, followed by the breadcrumbs, flour and remaining ingredients, mixing together until well combined. Add the boozy fruit to the bowl and give a final mix. Your raw pudding mixture is now ready for steaming.

Preparing to steam – you’ll need:

  • 1.5 litre (or larger) heat proof pudding bowl
  • a little butter or oil
  • greaseproof paper
  • tin foil
  • string
  • scissors
  • a small metal trivet or clean jam jar lid
  • large saucepan with lid

Lightly grease the inside of your pudding bowl and put a small disc of greaseproof paper in the bottom – this will help the pudding to come out of the bowl when it’s cooked.

Greaseproof paper in the pudding bowl

Greaseproof paper in the pudding bowl makes it easier to get the pudding out when cooked

Pour and scrape your pudding mixture into the bowl, smoothing it out as much as possible. Take a large sheet of greaseproof (big enough to comfortably cover the top of your pudding bowl with an over-hang all around) and a sheet of tin foil around the same size. Lay the foil over the greaseproof and make a pleat down the centre of both – this is to allow room for expansion as the pudding steams (see the video for a demonstration of how to do this). Place the paper/foil over the top of the bowl and secure tightly with the string. Trim any excess paper and foil.

Place your trivet or jam jar lid in the centre of the bottom of the saucepan – this is to keep the bowl off the bottom of the saucepan. Tear off a long strip of tin foil, long enough to go under your pudding bowl with over-hang – you’re going to use this a bit like a sling to lift the pudding out of the saucepan eventually. Fold the foil lengthways several times to make it stronger and lay it in the saucepan across the centre so it rests on top of the trivet or jam jar lid.

Saucepan prepared for pudding steaming

Saucepan prepared for pudding steaming; a jam jar lid or trivet to keep the bowl off the base of the pan and a strip of foil to lift the bowl out once the pudding is cooked

Carefully place the pudding bowl in the saucepan, on top of the lid and foil. Fold the edges of the foil sling over the top of the pudding bowl so that you’ll be able to get the lid on the saucepan. Boil a kettle full of water and pour the hot water into your saucepan so it comes to around two thirds up the pudding bowl, turn the heat on under the saucepan and put the lid on, bringing the water to a boil again.

Pudding in the saucepan

Pudding in the saucepan, boiling water in and lid on and it’s ready to steam for 8 hours!

Your pudding is now steaming! Steam for 8 hours, regularly topping up with more boiling water so that it never boils dry (aim to keep the water level between a quarter and two thirds up the bowl, not less or more – I topped up around every 45 minutes).  After the eight hours steaming are up, you can remove the pudding from the saucepan using the foil sling. Allow to cool completely before removing the greaseproof/foil lid.

To store your pudding, cover with clean, dry greaseproof or foil and secure tightly with string. Leave in a cool, dark place (it doesn’t need to be refrigerated) until you need it.

To reheat, you can: steam again, following the same instructions as before, for around three hours, or; remove it from the pudding bowl, put it in an oven proof tray, loosely covered with foil and heat in moderate oven (around 150C) for about an hour, or; remove from the pudding bowl, place on a microwavable plate, cover with cling film with a couple of holes pierced in and heat on medium, in bursts of 2-3 minutes until piping hot all the way through (don’t just whack it on high or leave it in for ages, it could burn easily as it has such a high sugar content).  However you choose to reheat it, always ensure it’s hot all the way through before serving and never reheat more than twice.

I know this sounds like hard work, but it isn’t really. The most complicated bit is the greaseproof/foil lid and that’s hardly rocket science. The rest is just being around to keep an eye on things. This pudding is so much nicer than even the most luxury of puddings we’ve had from supermarkets and I think making it yourself for such a special occasion is incredibly rewarding. But if you think it’s just a little too much work, check out some of my other Christmas recipes and give one of those a go.

The making of the Christmas Pudding!

The making of the Christmas Pudding!


Chocolate Clementine Cake

Chocolate Clementine Cake

Chocolate Clementine Cake; it’s practically health food!

I can’t take all the credit for this cake as it’s adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe for clementine cake. I made this version for my cousin’s birthday; she’s a nutritionist and the fact this cake is wheat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and free from added fat means you could almost convince yourself it’s healthy! As it’s made with ground almonds it stays wonderfully moist, and with the addition of cocoa it’s almost truffle-like – serve with a little cream and you’ve got yourself an excellent dessert.

Chocolate Clementine Cake


375g clementines (probably 4-6 clementines depending on size)
230g ground almonds
240g caster sugar
40g cocoa, sifted
6 eggs
1 tsp baking powder

Firstly, don’t worry if your clementines are a little more or less than 375g, just don’t go cutting a bit off to make the right weight, they should be whole for the first stage. Boil the clementines for 2 hours, topping up the water as necessary to make sure they don’t boil dry. After the two hours are up, remove from the pan and allow to cool before cutting in half to remove any pips and any stalk.

Heat the oven to 190C and grease and line an 8″/21cm springform tin. If you have a food processor, chuck in all the clementines (skin  and everything) and whizz them up into a fairly smooth pulp. If you don’t have a food processor then blend or very finely chop and the fruit, trying not to lose any of the liquid, then tip it all into a large bowl. Add the rest of ingredients to the food processor or bowl and mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for about an hour, covering the top with foil after about 40 minutes to avoid burning. The top will crack, don’t worry. The cake is done when it springs back when pressed and a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely whilst still in its tin on a wire rack.

Clementine, Coconut and Cranberry Bundt Cake

Clementine, Coconut and Cranberry Bundt Cake

Clementine, Coconut and Cranberry Bundt Cake – a Christmas cake alternative

It’s another one of those “National flogging stuff” days, this time National Bundt Day. I actually bought a little bundt tin the other day, so this was the perfect excuse to use it. Having never made a bundt cake, I sought out the expert musing of Dolly McGrath, who I follow on Twitter and who has a brilliant blog with loads of bundt recipes and advice. I was really pleased with how it turned out – soft and tender from the citrus and coconut with berry bursts from the cranberries – so though this was my first bundt, I doubt it’ll be my last.

This recipe is an adaptation of Dolly’s build-a-bundt, but as my tin is only little I’ve halved the quantities and added some other stuff for more flavour. For a standard sized bundt tin (10 cups/10 inches diameter/2.4 litres) double the recipe and cook for about 1 hour 15 minutes.

Clementine, Coconut and Cranberry Bundt Cake


  • 115g butter, softened
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 175g plain flour
  • quarter tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 125ml coconut yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 clementines
  • 50g desiccated coconut (plus about a tablespoon for decoration)
  • 75g dried cranberries
  • 100g icing sugar

Heat the oven to 160C and grease and flour a small bundt tin. In a large bowl (or in a free standing mixer) cream together the butter and sugar until pale and soft. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until the mix becomes fluffy and smooth. In a separate bowl mix the flour and bicarb, and in another bowl or your measuring jug mix the yogurt, vanilla and finely grated zest of two clementines and juice of one. Mix about a third of the flour with the butter and eggs, then half the liquid ingredients followed by a bit more flour, the rest of the yogurt and finally the last of the flour. Don’t over-mix, and use a spatula to scrape down the sides of your main mixing bowl to make sure you’re getting everything incorporated. Lastly, stir in the cranberries. Use a spoon or spatula to dollop the cake mixture into the prepared bundt tin and don’t fill more than 3 quarters full. Bake for 50-60 minutes. It’s done when a skewer inserted comes out clean and it’s coming away from the sides of the tin. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, before carefully turning out (use oven gloves to hold the tin – it’s still hot) to cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the glaze, mix the icing sugar with the juice of half a clementine. Drizzle over the bundt so it drips artfully down the sides, and sprinkle with a snowy smattering of coconut whilst the icing is still damp. Leave it to set before cutting.

The clementines and cranberries in this make me think of Christmas – I reckon this cake could be a good alternative for those who don’t like the traditional fruit Christmas cake. For other recipes that make me think of Christmas, click here.

Christmas Bundt Cake

Christmas Bundt Cake, studded with ruby cranberries and scattered with a snowy topping of coconut

Spiced Plum Cake

Spiced Plum Cake

Spiced Plum Cake – moist and loaded with seasonal fruit

I bought lots of plums at the supermarket today, thinking I’d make a crumble at the weekend. I probably still will (and the recipe will probably end up here!), but I just couldn’t stop myself making a cake this evening. Everything I bake at the moment seems to be spiced – clearly the time of year for warming flavours – whilst the seasonal plums help this cake stay deliciously moist and soft.

Spiced Plum Cake


  • 125g butter, softened
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 75g soft dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 175g self raising flour
  • half tsp baking powder
  • half tsp cinnamon
  • half tsp mixed spice
  • 5 plums

Heat the oven to 170C and grease and line an 8″ spring form cake tin with greaseproof paper. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, then add the remaining dry ingredients (if you have a stand mixer, you can make this as an all-in-one cake and just mix the whole lot together, scraping down the sides with a spatula half way through to ensure everything is well incorporated). Chop the plums into small chunks, discarding the stones, and stir through the stiff cake batter with a spatula. Scrape into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45-55 minutes. The cake is done when it’s a deep, golden brown, firm to the touch and coming away from the edges of the pan. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Dust with a little icing sugar to serve.