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Vegan for the Holidays


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 Vegetarian Cooking with Zel


This festive dessert carries a regal 19th century Christmas tradition into the 21st century with a delicious updated twist. While keeping all of its lore and fancy intact, the recipe replaces animal ingredients like suet and turns deliciously vegan with only a few enhancements.

Because this plum pudding is quite large, you may choose to spoon the batter into two molds and steam them in two separate kettles or in the oven. On the other hand, leftovers from the full recipe will be snapped up with delight, so steam away with gusto! If you decide to cut the recipe in half, the timing will still be about 2 1/2 to 3 hours whether you steam in a stockpot (which the English refer to as a kettle) or in the oven. In keeping with tradition, no plum pudding would dare come to the table without a proper hard sauce-at least not this one!

Victorian Plum Pudding

VICTORIAN PLUM PUDDING

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

    2 cups (480 ml) whole-wheat pastry flour
    3/4 cup (180 ml) organic sugar
    3 slices whole wheat bread, cut or torn into 1/4-inch pieces
    1/3 cup (80 ml) well-packed brown sugar
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    2 teaspoons finely minced lemon or orange zest
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
    1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

    2 1/2 cups (600 ml) diced dried apples
    1 3/4 cups (420 ml) diced dates
    1 3/4 cups (420 ml) black raisins
    1 1/4 cups (300 ml) golden raisins
    1 cup (240 ml) diced dried pineapple
    1/2 cup (120 ml) whole or blanched almonds

    1 1/4 cups (300 ml) apple juice
    1/2 cup (120 ml) dark beer or stout
    1/3 cup (80 ml) plus 3 tablespoons brandy, divided
    1/3 cup (80 ml) organic canola oil

    1/3 cup (80 ml) well mashed firm tofu

    1/2 cup (120 ml) water
    4 tablespoons flax seeds or flaxseed meal

    1 recipe Hard Sauce (recipe below)

  1. TO PREPARE THE KETTLE AND PUDDING MOLD, have ready a tall 10 to 12-quart (10 to 10 liter) stockpot and place a trivet on the bottom of the pot. Fill the stockpot with 1 1/2 to 2 inches (3.5 to 5 cm) of water, cover the pot, and place it on the stovetop. Set aside.
  2. Lightly oil a deep 2 1/2 to 3-quart (1 1/2 to 3 liter) pudding mold or deep metal mixing bowl. Cut a 3-inch (7.5 cm) circle of parchment, place it into the bottom of the oiled mold, and oil it lightly. Have ready either a dishtowel or aluminum foil sling for lowering the pudding and lifting it out of the kettle.
  3. TO MAKE THE PUDDING, combine the flour, sugar, bread pieces, brown sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves in an extra-large mixing bowl. Toss well to distribute the ingredients evenly.
  4. In a separate large bowl, combine the dried apples, dates, black raisins, golden raisins, dried pineapple, and almonds. Toss well and set aside.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine the apple juice, beer, 1/3 cup (80 ml) of the brandy, and canola oil. Mix well and add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. With a vigorous stirring motion, press on the bread pieces to break them down into smaller bits with the back of the spoon. The mixture will thicken considerably.
  6. Add the dried fruits and the tofu and mix well to distribute them evenly. Finally, combine the water and flaxseeds in the blender or mini-blender. Process until the mixture turns into a very thick and viscous slurry, similar to the thickness of a heavy cream sauce. Stir the slurry into the pudding batter and mix until it is thoroughly incorporated throughout the batter. Spoon the batter into the prepared mold or bowl, packing it down to avoid air spaces. The mold will be very full and very heavy.
  7. Bring the water in the stockpot to a boil over high heat. Cover the mold securely. If using a bowl, cover with heavy-duty aluminum foil, tenting it somewhat, and seal it securely. Place the mold onto the center of the prepared sling and lift the sides. Tie the sling at the top of the mold or place the ends together and fold them over to form a strong handle.
  8. When the water is boiling, carefully lower the mold into the kettle and cover the stockpot. Boil vigorously over high heat for 5 minutes. Then, reduce the heat to medium-low and steam for 2 1/2 hours. Check the water level after 1 1/2 hours and add more boiling water if needed to maintain the same level.
  9. When the pudding is done, lift the kettle lid and use gloved hands to lift out the pudding by the mold or sling handle. Set the pudding onto a cooling trivet and carefully lift the pudding lid to release the steam. Leave the pudding partially covered and set aside for 2 to 3 hours to cool slightly. Invert the pudding mold onto an attractive serving dish and carefully lift off the mold. The pudding will release gently. Remove the parchment circle and pour the remaining 3 tablespoons brandy over the entire pudding.
  10. To store the pudding for up to 3 days, cover it with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature. If serving in a week or two, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the pudding. If you make the pudding a month or two in advance of the holidays, cover it securely in several layers of plastic wrap and freeze it. Though the brandy is an excellent preservative, for longer storage I prefer to refrigerate or freeze the pudding to prevent it from drying out.
  11. 11.
  12. TO SERVE THE PUDDING, prepare the hard sauce and serve it at room temperature. If made in advance, allow it to come to room temperature. For a dramatic presentation, serve the pudding flaming.

Hard Sauce

    1 cup (240 ml) dairy-free margarine

    2 cups (480 ml) powdered sugar
    2 tablespoons brandy
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    1/2 teaspoon grated lemon or orange peel

    Dash nutmeg

Put the margarine in the food processor and add the powdered sugar, brandy, vanilla extract, and orange peel. Process until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the nutmeg. Makes about 2 cups (480 ml).


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