10drieddates, I used Deglet Noor but Medjool or any other kind will be fine. You could even use dried figs if you wanted to.
10dried apricots, optional but they look really pretty in there and provide a nice texture
260g / about 2 very full cups dried fruit, I used a combination of currants, raisins, sultanas, cherries, cranberries & blueberries - Try to get a nice variation of colour if you can
80mls / ⅓ cupbrandy , or port, dark rum, a good sherry or a nice dark stout. See recipe notes for an alcohol free option
50g / ⅓very packed cupall-purpose flour, (plain flour in the UK), to make gluten-free use certified gluten-free oat flour
65g / ¾very packed cup bread crumbs, any type of bread will do but slightly stale, dry bread is best. Use gluten-free bread to make gluten-free (I weigh my bread then throw it into a blender to make breadcrumbs)
Chop the dates and apricots. Then put them and all of the other dried fruit, into a large mixing bowl and pour over the brandy (or alternative alcohol/juice). Leave until the liquid has been absorbed by the fruit. How long it takes varies depending on the fruit you use but it will be somewhere between about 15 and 30 minutes.
While that is happening, place the pudding basin on some parchment paper and draw a circle around the bottom of the basin onto the paper. Cut it out and set aside. Then turn the basin over and draw another circle around the top of the basin. Cut that one out but cut a few millimeters inside the line this time so the circle will fit on top of the pudding batter when you put it in the basin. Set that circle aside too.
Make sure your Instant Pot is ready with the trivet insert inside. If you are using a steamer have the water simmering ready under the steamer, and if you are using a large saucepan, have a heatproof upturned saucer or something similar in the bottom of a pan so the pudding doesn't come into direct contact with the heat when it goes in, and a full kettle boiled and ready.
Grease the pudding basin with some coconut oil and place the small circle in the bottom of the basin.
Once the liquid has been absorbed by the fruit, add the flour, breadcrumbs, baking powder, allspice and sugar to the bowl and stir really well to combine.
Then add the orange zest, apple, aquafaba, blackstrap molasses and coconut oil and stir well until combined.
Spoon the mixture into the pudding basin, smooth it out and top with the large circle of parchment paper, pressing it down all over and into the sides gently.
Cut a large rectangle of silver foil and a slightly smaller rectangle of parchment paper. Enough to go over the top of the pudding basin with plenty to spare. Then lay the foil flat on your surface and the parchment paper flat on top of the foil. Make a pleat in them both as shown in my video above. If you need to see the technique more clearly have a look at this video (don't worry about buttering the parchment paper like he says. though). Cover the top of the pudding basin with the foil and paper making sure the pleat is in the middle, then press it down all around the basin as tightly as you can, then tie twice around the basin with string as tightly as you can. This is shown clearly in the video link too. If you are using a plastic pudding bowl with a lid, I still recommend covering the pudding with a circle of parchment paper, putting on the lid, then wrapping the whole thing in foil as I have had situations in the past where the lid blows off and the pudding is ruined by the moisture.
IF USING AN INSTANT POT: (you will need to use a 6 quart IP or larger for this recipe)
NOT ALL PLASTIC PUDDING BASINS ARE SAFE IN A PRESSURE COOKER OR INSTANT POT. PLEASE CHECK BEFORE USING OR USE A CERAMIC OR TEMPERED GLASS ONE (LIKE PYREX). Place the wrapped pudding inside the Instant Pot, resting on the metal trivet. Boil a kettle and pour hot water down the side until it is just under half way up the side of the bowl. It should not go above the foil level. Put the lid on the Instant Pot and make sure the vent is open. Set the Instant Pot to steam for 15 minutes. You will need to watch the clock for this part as the Instant Pot's timer won't count down for you. After 15 minutes, cover your hand with a dish cloth and seal the vent. Press cancel, then set the Instant Pot to Manual (or pressure cook in newer models), High Pressure for 60 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally.
IF USING A STEAMER:
Make sure the water is simmering away well under the steamer insert . Place the pudding in the insert and cover with the lid. Cook for 3 hours.
IF USING A LARGE SAUCEPAN:
Place the pudding gently on an upturned saucer inside the pan and pour boiling water carefully down the sides so it reaches about halfway up the side of the pudding basin. It must not reach the foil. Cover and bring to a simmer but don't let it rolling boil as you don't want the water to get up under the foil. Cook for 3 hours.
When the time is up, carefully remove the pudding, then take off the foil and parchment paper. It should look cooked and a toothpick should come out clean when inserted. You can also just poke the middle with a finger and it should be firmish with a bit of bounce, like a cake is when cooked. In the unlikely event that it isn't cooked through you can return it to the Instant Pot/pan/steamer and cook it for a few minutes longer. Be sure to secure the paper and foil around it first though. Either serve immediately or leave to cool completely, with the paper and foil removed but still in the bowl. Once cool, wrap the bowl again in fresh paper and foil before storing somewhere dark and cool. (See my directions in the post and recipe notes for storing it for up to 6 months).
TO REHEAT THE PUDDING:
On the day you want to eat the pudding you can either steam it again or you can microwave the whole thing or just individual slices of it. If you use the microwave make sure you remove all traces of foil. A slice takes about 40-50 seconds on full power, and the whole pudding about 4-5 minutes depending on how powerful your microwave is. Be careful not to overcook it so check it frequently. To reheat in an Instant Pot or other electric pressure cooker, put it covered as before (make sure it's all sealed well) into the pot on the trivet and pour in boiling water half way up the pudding bowl. Put the lid on, seal the vent, press steam and set the timer for 30 minutes. once it's done it will be ok on 'keep warm' for an hour or so if you aren't quite ready for it. If steaming it in a sauce pan or a steamer give it an hour to heat through.
MAKING THE PUDDING ALCOHOL -FREEIf you would prefer to make this pudding alcohol free you can replace the alcohol with apple juice or orange juice. Bear in mind though that the alcohol acts to preserve the pudding, so if you omit it, the pudding won't store well, unless you freeze it. You will need to keep it in the fridge and eat it within a week of making it.LEFTOVERSLeftover cut pudding will keep in the fridge for up to a week and can be reheated as mentioned in the directions.STORINGThis Vegan Christmas Pudding is excellent eaten right away. There is no need to make it weeks or months in advance. However, it will get even better with age and you can make it up to 6 months in advance, as long as you make it with alcohol in it. The alcohol is what preserves it. If you want to store a non-alcoholic pudding, please see my freezing instructions. To store the pudding, once it's cooked, open up the packaging to allow any condensation to evaporate, then replace the baking parchment circle on the top of the pudding with a fresh one, and re-wrap in new parchment paper and foil. Then wrap in a couple of clean dish towels too, and store it like that in a cool, dark place like the basement or a cool, dark cupboard, or a wardrobe/closet in an unheated room. I have actually kept one stashed away for over a year and it was still incredibly good when we reheated it. If you want to make it even boozier and moister, while storing, open the wrapping carefully, peel off the parchment circle and feed it one tablespoon of brandy 4 or 5 times over the period of storing. Just spoon it on, let it absorb, put the parchment circle back, then wrap really well again and return to the cool, dark place.When you are ready to enjoy it, follow my reheating instructions in the recipe above. FREEZINGLeftover or whole puddings, whether alcohol is used or not, if wrapped well, will keep in the freezer for up to 1 year. Just defrost overnight and reheat as per my instructions above.