The very second the first crisp and crunchy autumn leaf hit the pavement and dew covered the branches in the many trees around my extremely green city, my thoughts turned immediately to the festive. I can’t help it, Christmas is my favourite time of year and once the warmth of summer has gone for another year, my daily need for light has to be satisfied with a myriad of twinkling fairy lights, wrapped around as many stationary objects as I can find in the Apple Chapel.
Last year, my Christmas recipe theme was around cooking for two but this year, my Instant Pot is being put to work and I’ve been busy developing new ways to cook your festive favourites with a few twists and tweaks along the way to keep things interesting. First up, is my Instant Pot Christmas Pudding.
Having converted the Christmas pudding haters in my family to the one I have been making for quite a few years now, it was hard to stray too far from The Recipe as I knew how much it was enjoyed. I soak the dried fruits for weeks in booze before making the pudding a good couple of months ahead of Christmas itself. I’m certainly not alone in doing this – a lot of readers have been asking me for Christmas cakes and puddings and given the amount of fruit and alcohol in both, they keep extremely well and are so much better for a little maturation in a cool, dark cupboard.
Usually, I make my pud in the slow cooker as it is so easy to plug in and forget about, as opposed to fussing and tending to a simmering pot on the stove for hours on end. Imagine how thrilled I was to see after minimal tweaking, I could make my Christmas Pud in the Instant Pot in about an hour! In fact, when I think about it, I imagine traditional British home cooks would have been more used to cooking in a pressure cooker than most of us are today so it’s not such a strange idea.
In fact, if anything, I think the texture is quite improved for cooking under pressure. It is the softest, most fudgy Christmas pudding I’ve ever eaten and it’s so easy to make, I will certainly be making extra to give as gifts this year. I’ve done some tweaking of my original recipe as I wanted to not just update the method of cooking but the recipe itself. My family love nuts so some finely chopped pecans went in and to help guarantee moistness and a meltingly soft texture, some finely chopped dates which work as a fabulously sticky and sweet glue as the almost melt on cooking.
I’ve found upping the spice level a little but not so much to overtake, and even substituting my homemade Mixed Spice for Pumpkin Pie Spice brings a lovely warming note, I think from the cardamom I add to it. A little of grated carrot is a very traditional addition but I have used the less common hazelnut liqueur Frangelico as I always have a bottle in the cupboard (I love the flavour and the fact the bottle looks like a monk complete with a rope tied around it’s ‘waist’!). You may of course use whichever spirit or liqueur you and your family prefer but I do encourage you to be fast and loose with the measuring of said alcohol if you aren’t presoaking the fruits. No one wants a dry Christmas Pudding and certainly, don’t drive home after eating one either! ;)
Recipe updated October 2017 with an improved cooking method after further testing and tweaking (I can't help this, even with my own recipes!).
- 200 g dried fruit*
- 50 g finely chopped dried dates
- 50 g finely chopped pecans**
- 90 ml Frangelico *** hazelnut liqueur
- 4 balls of Stem Ginger finely chopped
- 75 g soft butter
- 75 g dark muscovado sugar
- 2 tsp mixed spice or try my pumpkin pie spice blend for a change
- 1 tsp orange extract or zest of an orange
- 1 tsp lemon extract or zest of a lemon
- 70 g fresh breadcrumbs
- 2 large eggs
- 70 g self raising flour
- 1 medium carrot finely grated about 150g worth
- 1 tbsp treacle
If you haven't soaked dried fruit in booze ahead of time, then I would place the fruit and Frangelico in a covered bowl overnight before you start and perhaps be a bit lose with your pouring wrist when you measure out the liqueur ;)
Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then beat in the eggs. Mix in everything apart from the flour, mixing very well. Lightly fold in the flour then scrape into a well buttered 1.4 to 1.7-litre pudding basin.
Take a piece of baking parchment and a slightly larger piece of foil. Put a pleat about an inch deep across the middle of both then lightly grease the parchment side. Place over the pudding and secure with an elastic band or string, scrunching up the excess paper and foil around the rim of the basin.
Lower onto the trivet inside the Instant Pot and pour boiling water to just below the level of the foil. My kettle has a capacity of 1.7-litres and I find I need most of it to come up to an inch below the rim of the pudding basin.
Put the lid on, leave the Valve OPEN and set to Steam. As soon as you hear the steam coming out of the vent, set a timer for 15 minutes. Note that as the pot is not steaming under pressure when the vent is open, it will not start its own timer countdown.
When the 15 minutes is up, close the Valve (use oven gloves) and set to Manual High for 45 minutes. When done, allow an NPR then retrieve the cooked pudding carefully with oven gloved hands. Remove the paper and foil and allow to cool. When cold, dry the top of the pudding off with kitchen roll then replace its covering with fresh paper and foil and leave in a cool dark place until required. This could be done a year in advance but tradition dictates at least 5 weeks before Christmas to give a full, matured flavour.
When ready to cook, place the pudding on the trivet and pour boiling water in as before i.e. up to about one inch below the rim of your basin, setting the Instant Pot to 20 minutes on Steam (close the Valve this time). If you like your pudding extra rich and dark, you can give it 40 minutes on Steam and leave it for an hour or two on Keep Warm until you are ready for it. You can leave the pressure to release naturally and serve when you are ready on Christmas Day or if you like, do a QPR and serve right away.
Invert onto a serving plate before portioning and serving with rum or brandy butter, custard or rum sauce mmm :D
*= make the dried fruit up with whichever you prefer - currants, sultanas, raisins, cranberries, dried cherries are all good.
**= if you don't like the crunch of nuts, then replace with dried fruits instead.
***= I do love Frangelico and always have a bottle in but please do feel free to use Brandy, Rum, Whiskey or even Amaretto would be lovely. Use whatever you like or have in!
To make this pudding Gluten Free:
Replace the breadcrumbs with ground almonds and use gluten-free flour in place of the self-raising. If your GF flour is plain, add 1 scant tsp GF baking powder and 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda but if you have gluten-free self-raising flour in, by all means, use that.
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