Vegan Christmas Plum Pudding with Brandy Butter

This is my very own vegan take on an English Christmas tradition. It dates back to medieval times, though it wasn’t popularized in England until the Victorian Era. Christmas Pudding is served flambé with a sprig of holly and topped with brandy butter, a treat like no other. I recommend making it on ‘Stir-up Sunday’, the Sunday following Thanksgiving, to allow for enough time to age. On the Christian Advent Calendar, it is 5 weeks before Christmas. On ‘Stir-up Sunday’, everyone takes a turn stirring the batter to make a wish. However, the earlier you make this, the better it is—I’d say closer to Halloween.

Illustrations and cards often show Christmas puddings to be perfectly round. This is because those of the lower classes, that may not have been able to afford a special mold to steam the pudding in and instead steamed it in tied up in layers of cloth—yielding a cannonball shape. You can use a ceramic or metal bowl, find a special mold online, or tie it up tight with cheese cloth. Sometimes small charms or coins are hidden in the pudding, which are believed to bring wealth in the coming year.

I must be clear that this is not a fruit cake, nor is it a pudding in the American sense. As it ages, the alcohol breaks down the fruit and melds it with the flour portion of the cake. It is heavy and dense like a pound cake and more moist than fruit quick-bread. This is going to be my new family tradition to pass down.

Vegan Christmas Pudding  (serves 8-10)

The Plum Pudding
1 cup raisins
1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup currents or cranberries
1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
1 cup prunes, diced
3/4 cup brandy (+ extra for feeding and lighting on Christmas day)
1/4 cup ginger liqueur, ginger wine, port (or 1/4 extra of brandy)
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cloves
zest and juice of one lemon
zest and juice of one orange

1 cup bread crumbs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 tbsp flaxmeal
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp soda
1/2 cup vegan butter or cold coconut oil
1 tbsp cornstarch (opt)
1/4 cup soymilk
1/4 cup molasses

Brandy Butter Sauce
2 tbsp vegan butter
2 tbsp flour
2 cups cashew cream (or other nondairy milk)
2 tbsp powdered sugar
1/4 cup brandy or rum
pinch salt

In a large bowl combine the dried fruit, alcohol, citrus, and spices. If not using the ginger wine, add an extra cup of brandy. Allow to soak at least a few hours or overnight.

Mix together the dry ingredients: bread crumbs, sugar, flour, flax, baking powder, and soda. Crumble in the oil, like you would a pie crust until the oil is in pea-sized pieces.

Add the soaked fruit into the dry ingredients and until well combined. Whisk together the cornstarch, soymilk and molasses and fold into the fruit.

Pour into a greased mold or bowl and cover the top with parchment paper and foil and secure with a thick rubber band or twine.

Steam in a stockpot steamer for 5-7 hours. Making sure to check the water frequently, to ensure the steamer doesn’t go dry.

The pudding will be a deep, dark, spongey cake. Allow to cool completely before removing from mold. Prick a few times with a toothpick and add a few tbsp of extra brandy, allow to soak in. You will feed the cake with brandy like this about every other week, until Christmas. Wrap in parchment paper and then foil. Storing in an airtight tin and keep in a cool, dry place.

When the time arrives to serve your pudding, return the pudding to your mold and steam for about an hour.

For the sauce, melt the vegan butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, add the flour and stir to create a thick paste. Cook for 1 minute, stirring over medium heat. Whisk in the nondairy milk or cashew cream, stirring vigorously. Continue whisking for about 5 minutes or until you have a thick smooth sauce. Add the sugar and salt and whisk until dissolved. Turn down the heat and cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add the alcohol, serve immediately.

Remove the pudding from the mold and add a spring of holly for decoration. Heat a few tablespoons of brandy in a small saucepan, just until slightly warmed. Light the brandy with a match and pour gently over pudding. Turn out the lights, everyone make a wish, and together blow out the flame!

9 thoughts on “Vegan Christmas Plum Pudding with Brandy Butter

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  2. Marty

    Made this pudding this year…even though I only gave it 2 days to rest, not 2 months…it was amazing! Even got rave reviews from traditional Nan who wouldn’t imagine a “vegan” pudding. Will now be my annual creation. I might even get organised and make it early next year!

  3. Scott Ragsdale

    I am very very excited to have found you recipe!
    My English Grandmother’s mother sailed around the horn to reach California and her family brought with her a very ancient plum pudding recipe. Her recipe called for suet and 12 months of preparation which grandma Margaret followed faithfully for nearly 80 years as it was likely used for at least 80 years prior. The mold is still used although my grandmother passed away last November – she had a long and grand life – though we are still tender at her loss.

    And many of us who have become vegetarian and gluten free (with a vegan here and there) have wanted to participate more fully in the plum pudding ritual. It had never occurred to me to alter one molecule of this tradition – or interfere with grandma’s conception of plum pudding perfection, but this seemed like the right time. This recipe is perfect! I’m very grateful for you efforts to publish this in your Miss Kitchen Witch Recipe blog.

    And so this year, Aunt Ann will prompt me once again, when the wrapping paper has been corralled, to warm the brandy for lighting. We will gather in the kitchen nook where the desserts are piled high. And their light the the plumb budding which will commence the singing of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” as we stomp together on the “Bring” of the verse “Now bring us some Figgy Pudding” – as we regale in the low light of the plum pudding graced with a holy branch – it is there in the joy of my favorite moment of the celebration that I will be holding hands with my grandmother again. Thanks from this generation and for many generations to come.

    Scott Ragsdale
    Davis, CA

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  6. Diana L Waldron

    Hello. I tried this for the first time this year with mixed results. All went well until the second steaming, when it stuck to the mold. Should the mold be greased for the second steaming? I’m wondering if I should have just skipped the second steaming, as it seemed to ruin the texture and appearance. Also had no luck with lighting it, but the gooey-ness may be to blame there. I’d appreciate any tips from more experienced bakers in case I decide to try this another year.

    1. MissKitchenWitch Post author

      Hmm. There are a number of things that could have gone wrong here. First, I’ve never had to grease the pan on the second steam, but your pan may need it and it’s worth a shot/a simple fix. It also sounds like your pud was too wet. This could be a mistake in the initial mix or from adding too much brandy while it aged, try adding a little extra bread crumbs next time and lighter on the brandy soak. The texture should have no effect on lighting the brandy. The brandy is always lit before pouring over the pud. It doesn’t usually burn on the pud, but more around it like a crown and they are very gentle blue flames—not a big dramatic flare. Hope this helps!

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