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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

Ingredients:

  • 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!

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Black Forest Cake

Black Forest Cake

A Seventies classic – Black Forest Cake

August seems full of birthdays (not sure what makes November such a sexy month!) so I’ve been making a lot of birthday cakes, including for one of my brothers. We’re both children of the Seventies, so maybe that’s why he requested this rich chocolate and cherry concoction – Black Forest Cake (I don’t feel justified in calling it a gateaux). This isn’t strictly following a classic recipe; if it was the sponge would get soaked in kirsch and I’m not a fan of soggy sponge, but all the essential Black Forest flavours are here and everyone enjoyed it so nobody seemed bothered that I strayed from tradition.

Black Forest Cake

For the cake:

  • 225g butter, softened
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 50g dark brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 175g self raising flour
  • half tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp instant espresso powder
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 tbsp milk

Heat the oven to 190C and grease and line two 9″ cake tins with greaseproof paper. In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugars. Add two of the eggs and beat to incorporate. Sift in the cocoa and about half the flour, mix well, then add the remaining eggs and beat again. Add the remaining flour and baking powder and give a good mix, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the vanilla, coffee powder, syrup and milk and give a final good mix before dividing the cake batter between the two tins. Gently even out the mixture with your spatula and bake for 20-25 minutes. The cakes are done when coming away from the sides of the tin, a skewer inserted comes out clean and they spring back when gently pressed. Remove from the oven, leaving to cool in the tin for 10 minutes or so, before turning out to cool completely on a wire rack.

For the cherry syrup:

  • 2 tins black cherries in light syrup
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp creme de cacao liqueur (optional)

Strain the cherries into a bowl so that you save the liquid. Press gently on the cherries so that any juice trapped inside gets squeezed out. Set the cherries to one side. In a saucepan, boil the syrup, icing sugar and liqueur (if using – you could also use kirsch, cherry brandy or anything else you have that wouldn’t overpower the cherry flavour) until reduced by about half. The syrup should coat a spoon but still be pourable.  Leave to cool.

For the cream filling:

  • 400ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

In a bowl, whisk all the ingredients until thick – I find it best to do this by hand with a balloon whisk as you can quickly find you go too far with an electric whisk. You want the cream thick enough to cling to the whisk, dropping off easily when tapped on the side of the bowl.

To assemble, put one of the cake on your serving plate and cover with about half the cream. Drizzle a few spoons of the syrup over the cream then add a layer of cherries. Put the other cake on top of the cherries, cover with the remaining cream, decorate with any remaining cherries and some syrup (don’t feel you need to use all the syrup). If you have any chocolate knocking around, finely grate a little over the top of the whole thing. Probably best served after a dinner of duck a l’ orange or alongside a nice cold Cinzano!

If you have any cherry syrup left it would be great on vanilla ice cream, or even a knickerbocker glory!

Cherries, chocolate and cream – Black Forest Cake

A slice of the past; chocolate cake filled with cherries and cream

Cherry Bakewell Loaf Cake

Cherry Bakewell Loaf Cake

Cherry Bakerwell Loaf Cake

Personally I’m not a fan of the well-known pastry this cake is inspired by, but my best friend is a bit of a cherry bakewell junkie (she ate them almost every day of her pregnancy – I reckon Mr Kipling was working round the clock to feed her habit). This recipe is what I’ve come up with for her birthday cake; a little nicer than the overly sweet treats consumed during her pregnancy, I’d like to think!

Cherry Bakewell Loaf Cake

Ingredients:

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 65g self-raising flour, plus 1 tbsp for dusting cherries
  • 65g ground almonds
  • half tsp almond extract or essence
  • half tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 150g glace cherries
  • 150g icing sugar, sifted
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 15g flaked almonds, toasted

Heat the oven to 180C and grease and line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in one egg, then add the flour, mix again, add the second egg and beat again. Add the ground almonds, almond extract and baking powder and give a good mix, then stir in the milk. Put 100g of the glace cherries in a small bowl with the additional tablespoon of flour (reserving the remaining 50g of cherries for the top of the cake) and toss them around so they’re coated. Tip them into the cake batter and fold in so they’re evenly dispersed. Pour the cake batter into the loaf tin, smoothing into the corners and levelling off the top with a spatula. Bake for 35-40 minutes; it’s done when golden brown, springs back when lightly pressed or a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.

If your flaked almonds aren’t toasted already, take advantage of your already hot oven and spread them on a baking sheet in a single layer, baking for about 5 minutes until golden brown; leave to cool. In a bowl mix the icing sugar and lemon juice together to form a thick paste. Once the cake is cooled, remove from the tin and smooth the icing over the top; it’s fine if it runs down the sides a little as it adds to the lovely homemade look. Sprinkle over the toasted almonds and add the remaining glace cherries. Let the icing set for half an hour or so before slicing and serving.