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Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand - Mother Teresa

FIG & ORANGE CHRISTMAS PUDDING

I've never forgotten the taste of Heston Blumenthal's plum pudding with a hidden orange, which I bought with great anticipation several years ago. Since I happen to adore figs, I thought to replicate this divine creation as a fig and orange pudding with a vegan twist. I came across Rose Prince's method for candied orange, but with mountains of white sugar. So I decided to candy the orange in a boiling water bath with coconut sugar, a cinnamon stick and marmalade for flavour.

The candying process takes 2 days to create, but is worth all the time and effort when on Christmas day you slice the pudding in front of your family who will oooh and aah as the hidden orange is revealed. It’s worth keeping the secret, if that’s possible! I’ve added delicious cashew custard, which is perfect chilled for a summer Christmas or warmed if you celebrate Christmas in the northern hemisphere.

VEGAN FIG & ORANGE CHRISTMAS PUDDING

Health benefits:

·       Figs are high in natural sugars, minerals and soluble fibre. They’re rich in minerals and are a good source of antioxidant vitamins A, E and K that contribute to health and wellness.

 

 V, GF, SF, DF, T

For the candied orange:

1 orange

1 litre of water

5 cups coconut sugar

1 cinnamon stick

1 tablespoon marmalade, sugar free (St Dalfour)

 

For the pudding:

2 cups dried figs, cut roughly with stems removed

½ cup golden raisins

½ cup hazelnuts, chopped

1 grated apple

grape juice, for soaking

1 orange, zest

¼ cup coconut sugar

¼ cup coconut nectar

½ cup brown rice flour

½ cup hazelnut flour

½ cup fresh breadcrumbs (GF if needed)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

pinch Himalayan salt

1/3 cup boiling water

 

To candy the orange, pierce it a few times with a skewer, then boil it in water for 30 minutes to soften. Remove the orange from the water, add the coconut sugar, cinnamon and marmalade and bring it to the boil. Place the orange back in the saucepan and cook over a medium heat for at least 45 minutes. Cover with a lid for at least 25 minutes to evenly cook the orange. Remove the orange from the syrup, and dry overnight on a rack. The next day, boil in the syrup for another 30 minutes, then remove and allow it to dry again overnight; now the orange is ready to use.

To make the pudding, steep the figs, raisins and apple in the grape juice for at least 2 hours. Drain the mixture, and keep the juice. Add orange zest, coconut nectar, baking soda, salt and boiling water and stir to combine. In another bowl, add the hazelnuts, flours, fresh breadcrumbs, baking powder, coconut sugar and spices, and mix to combine. Mix the wet mixture into the dry until well combined. The batter will be very thick.

Grease a 1 litre/2 pint pudding basin, and place a small circle of foil on the pudding bowl to assist a successful easing of pudding after cooking. Half a few centimetres in the pudding bowl with mixture, and place the candied orange in the centre of the bowl and add the remaining mixture so the candied orange is buried in the centre of the bowl. Take a large sheet of baking paper and foil, fold in half to make a pleat, and place over the bowl and secure with string. 

Place a jar lid on the bottom of a saucepan, pour boiling water to a depth of at least 4cm (1½ inches), fold a large piece of foil to a width of 5cm (2 inches) and place under the pudding basin (to get the pudding basin out easily), and ease into the saucepan of simmering water. Cover with a lid and simmer for 2 hours. Check the water level frequently, and add water when needed. When finished, store the pudding until Christmas. On Christmas day, simmer again for 1 hour, and serve with chilled cashew custard.

CASHEW CUSTARD

1½ cups cashews, soaked overnight

1½ cups water

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon orange zest

2 tablespoons rice malt syrup

 

Melt coconut oil over a low heat. Place the coconut oil, cashews, vanilla extract, orange zest. rice malt syrup and water in a blender and whiz until a smooth consistency is achieved. Spoon into a bowl, and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. Serve with the Christmas pudding. If you require warm custard, warm on a low heat before serving.

Enjoy!