Nutri Natters

Rita’s blog for lovers of real food

Stir up a traditional Christmas pudding (with a gluten-free option)

17th November 2019

Stir-up Sunday, the traditional day for making Christmas puddings and mincemeat, is usually the third Sunday in November.  If you miss the date, don’t worry – you can still make the pudding any time in the run up to Christmas but the sooner you make it, the longer the flavours will have to develop.  My favourite pudding is one I have been making for several years. It is light and delicious with the sweetness coming from the natural sugars in the fruit and carrot. Blackstrap molasses can be added for a darker pudding and will make it sweeter. You can stir up a  gluten-free version by making breadcrumbs from gluten-free bread, using gluten-free oats blitzed to the consistency of flour, or flaked quinoa (from health food shops).


A 1½ pint pudding basin, greaseproof paper, aluminium foil, lucky coin, string, large saucepan with tight-fitting lid, trivet or saucer.


Butter or olive oil to grease the basin
8 oz/225g lexia or other big, juicy raisins (soaked in hot water for 30 minutes or more before using)
3oz/80g wholemeal breadcrumbs (for a gluten-free version use gluten-free bread, gluten-free oats processed to make a rough flour or flaked quinoa from whole food shops)
3oz/80g butter (or non-hydrogenated, dairy-free vegan alternative)
1 Bramley apple, chopped or a large carrot, grated
2 medium eggs
juice and rind of ½ a lemon (unwaxed) and ½ an orange
3 tablespoons of brandy (optional)
3 oz/80g ground almonds
1½ oz/40g chopped mixed nuts e.g. pecans, hazelnuts, Brazils
½ tablebspoon of grated root ginger
½ teaspoon of mixed spice and ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
optional: 1 tablespoon of molasses (if you want a darker, sweeter pudding)

What to do:

1. Grease the pudding bowl. Rub the butter (or alternative) into the breadcrumbs (alternatives: gluten-free oats or quinoa flakes) and ground almonds
2. Add spices, ginger, orange and lemon juices and rind, raisins, nuts, carrot or apple and molasses (if using).
3. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add to the mixture with the brandy, if using
4. Stir the pudding mixture well for about 5 minutes
5. Add your lucky coin or charm (wrapped in greaseproof paper) and give the mixture a final stir for luck then pour the pudding mixture into the greased bowl
6. Cut a circle of greaseproof paper about 8cm (3 inches) larger in circumference than the pudding basin. Brush the paper with butter or olive oil and make a pleat in it (to allow for expansion when cooking). Place the pleated paper greased side down on the pudding
7. Cover the basin with a double layer of aluminium foil and secure in place with a piece of string, which will double as a handle to lift the pudding out of the water when cooked
8. Place the trivet (or an inverted saucer) in the saucepan and sit the pudding on the trivet.
9. Fill the saucepan with water until it comes halfway up the basin.
10. Bring water to the boil. Place the lid on the pan and reduce heat to a simmer
11. Steam the pudding for 3 hours, being sure to check every so often that the pan does not boil dry. Top up with hot water as necessary.

The cooked pudding will keep in the fridge or freezer until Christmas Day.

To reheat the pudding, steam or simmer in water for about 1½ hours until piping hot. Turn out on to a plate and garnish with a sprig of holly. Serve with creme fraiche, pouring cream or plain yoghurt.