Since Victorian times, the last week before Advent has traditionally been the time when Christian families would get together to make Christmas pudding. This lovely moist version was an instant hit with my family and suits a host of free‑froms, because it contains neither gluten, dairy nor eggs – although you'd honestly never guess. If you want it nut-free, simply omit the almonds.
What to watch out for
Vegetable suet usually has wheat flour added, so you'll need pure vegetable fat (for example, Trex), which can be found in the chiller cabinet.
100g gluten-free self-raising flour
2 tsp mixed spice
A pinch of salt
75g pure vegetable fat, frozen
1 dessert apple
50g blanched almonds
140g instant polenta (cornmeal)
400ml boiling water
2 medium bananas
50g golden brown soft sugar
2 tbsp treacle
100g thick-cut marmalade
2 tbsp rum
Add the flour, spice and salt to a very large bowl. Roughly grate in the frozen vegetable fat. The easiest way to do this is to place the bowl on the scales, wrap a little foil and a tea towel around the fat and then grate it directly into the bowl. Immediately stir the fat into the flour.
Grate the apple and roughly chop the nuts. Stir them into the flour together with the raisins and sultanas.
Place the polenta in a second bowl and pour in the boiling water. Stir and set aside for about 15 minutes until thickened and cooled.
In a third bowl, mash the banana and then add the sugar, treacle, marmalade and 1 tbsp rum.
Now mix everything until well combined. Allow everyone to have a stir and make a Christmas wish.
Place the pudding in a 1.5 litre heatproof bowl and cover with a piece of pleated foil, secured with an elastic band. Place the pudding on an upturned saucer in a stockpot. Pour boiling water into the stockpot until it is one-third the height of the bowl. Put the lid on and simmer for six hours. Top up the water as necessary.
Once cooled, remove the foil and pour the remaining rum over the top. Cover with new foil and leave in the fridge until Christmas Day. Reheat by steaming for two hours in the same way as before.