I used a pressure cooker to reduce the cooking time but I’ll tell you how long you’d need to steam it for if you go for a steamer or saucepan.
- 500g dried fruit
- 50g dried cranberries
- 4tbsp brandy
- 125ml gluten-free dark beer
- 120g softened unsalted butter
- 225g dark soft brown sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- a random amount of grated nutmeg
- 100g ground almonds
- 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
- grated zest of 1 lemon
- grated zest of 1 orange
- 1 Bramley apple - grated
- Firstly, looking at the ingredients… grating apple is a messy affair. I can’t be bothered with grating the apple and if you have a rotary grater then messiness is reduced. You may want to sprinkle diluted lemon juice on this to stop it from turning brown but given that then end product is brown, I didn’t bother. I did leave the grating until the last minute but the apple still went brown ish. The non-specific amount of nutmeg wasn’t overly helpful. I aimed for about 1/2 tsp but it’s really difficult to judge this amount when you’re grating whole nutmeg. I need a rotary nutmeg grater because I always come too close to grating my fingers.
- And gluten-free dark beer. This does exist but the only place I could find it would have meant ordering a crate of the stuff for over £30. Instead I found a golden ale sold by the bottle in Sainsbury. It’s not dark but it’s a better alternative than the pilsner that was the only other alternative. There might be a non alcoholic alternative but frankly, what’s the point?
- Right…on to prep. Butter a bowl with a capacity of 1.2 litres is what the instructions say. The bowl I had was exactly 1.2 litres in capacity and I ended up with more mixture than I had space in the bowl. I carried on regardless and had a bit of a bulge (a bit like my tummy) but when cooking, this all got a bit messy. It wasn’t a disaster but there was seepage. I have cleaned up the seepage and nobody will be any the wiser, unless they’ve read this, but next time a slightly bigger bowl would be better. In the bottom of your bowl you need to place a circle of greaseproof paper. I’m not entirely sure this is necessary as my mum never bothered with this type of frippery but hey ho.
- OK, onward to the mixing. Actually your fist step is to bung stuff in a saucepan and use the hob. Not everything, just the dried fruit and yummy (or in my case supermarket own label) brandy and beer. Heat for two minutes and cool.
- In a bowl, or in my case Kenwood mixer, beat the butter and sugar. It will start dark but with enough beating it becomes a light mink colour. I stop the mixture quite a bit and use a spatula to scrape the bowl and mixer attachment. This ensures everything gets properly beaten.
- In another bowl mix almonds, spices and baking powder.
- Gradually mix the eggs into the butter and sugar mixture and then stir in the citrus zests and apple followed by the dried fruit mixture.
- At this point the mixture looked very unappetising.
- Spoon the resultant mixture into the pudding basin and then cover with a pleated piece of greaseproof paper and foil (you can buy greaseproof paper with foil already combined in Wilkinsons). Pleated means just add a fold about an inch and a half wide to allow for expansion. Tie this paper/foil in place with string. I found this a bit tricky and it would have been easier with an extra pair of hands.
- If using a saucepan then put an old upturned saucer or jam jar lid in the bottom of a saucepan. Put the bowl on top and opus boiling water in to come up to two thirds of the height of the bowl. Cover the pan and simmer for 4 1/2 hours. It’s important not to let the water boil off completely and you should be topping up the water every now and again. Setting a timer to check every 20 minutes is a good idea. You do not want this to boil dry. When cooked you need to cool, and store for up to a year. To serve you will need to boil like this again for about an hour and a half.
- If using a pressure cooker then use a trivet, put the bowl in followed by a litre of water around the side. Cover with the lid but not fully sealed and steam for 15 mins. After this close the lid and steam at high pressure for 1 3/4 hours. Release pressure slowly when cooked, cool and store for up to a year. To serve you need to cook at high pressure for 15 minutes and release pressure slowly.