STEAMY! The New Christmas Pudding

Pressure Cooked Christmas Pudding
This is not a recipe passed-down through my family or by an old friend – Italians don’t have a Christmas Pudding tradition as is very common in the UK,  Australia and a few American households. I’ve had to do lots of research and testing to come up with my own pudding recipe . I’m not a big fan of raisins so I went with  tart cranberries and tangy apricots as the dried fruit for this pudding – try it, or sub with your favorite dried fruit.

To suet or not to suet, that is the question.

Most traditional and older pudding recipes include suet – the fat from a specific part of the cow- lard just won’t do. I knew right away that I would not be making these puddings as suet is  not available in Italy and I had no plans to go as far as making my own (though tutorials online abound if you’re interested).

No readily available suet is what kept t me from working on this recipe for years.  Then, an Aussie reader posted a christmas pudding recipe she’d been cooking for 40 years in the forums and  it didn’t call for suet. The clouds parted.  I stopped the hand-wringing and set out to bringing you a pudding recipe without suet.

No-pressure pre-steaming – do it!

I’m not the first to pressure cook a pudding, British and Aussie cooks have been doing this for years but I was really confused about why their recipes directed the cook to steam the pudding without pressure before pressure cooking.  On the surface it seemed like some medieval hold-over from before the dawn of baking powder – so I wasn’t convinced this was a necessary step. I put this curious bit of “cooking lore” to the test by  cooking the same pudding in two batches.  The first pudding was cooked with “no-pressure pre-steaming and pressure cooking” and the second  was only pressure cooked.  Everything looked the same – each pudding had grown to similar size – but the difference was on the inside. The pudding that was no-pressure pre-steamed had a more cake-like crumb.  Where the inside of the just pressure cooked pudding was a little uneven and even a bit  rubbery.

Yes: Pre-steam the pudding without pressure. Don’t worry, it won’t add disproportionate amounts of time to the recipe because once the steaming is up the cooker will come to pressure almost instantly.

Pressure Cooker Accessories Pr. Cook Time Pr. Level Open
6 L or larger steamer basket, heat-proof bowl(s) 15 & 30 min. None & High(2) Natural + 10min

4.8 from 5 reviews
Pressure Cooker Christmas Pudding
Nutritional Information
(per serving)
  • Serves: 1 Pudding
  • Serving size: 1/12th (one slice)
  • Calories: 314.3
  • TOTAL Fat: 15.7g
  • TOTAL Carbs: 38.8g
  • Sugar Carbs: 27.9g
  • Sodium: 165.8mg
  • Fiber Carbs: 1.7g
  • Protein: 3.8g
  • Cholesterol: 115.5mg
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
This recipe pre-steams the pudding without pressure and then cooks it with pressure. This procedure involves removing the pressure valve from the lid, and then putting it back on (carefully) when the lid is still hot. If you have a normal non-pressure cooking lid for your pressure cooker you can use that instead of fussing with the valve.
  • ⅔ cup (100g) dried cranberries, soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes
  • ⅔ cup dried (100g) apricots, chopped and soaked if they are not already soft
  • ⅛ teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (200g) raw (Demarara) sugar
  • 3 tsp (11g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (2 grams) ginger powder
  • ½ teaspoon (1 gram) cinnamon powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 15 tablespoons (1¾ sticks or 200g) un-salted butter, roughly chopped
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons (50g) maple syrup
  • 1 medium carrot, grated (about 100g)
  1. Put the dried cranberries and apricots, or dry fruit of your choice, in a small deep bowl and cover with boiling water. Then, tightly seal the top with plastic wrap and set aside - I used "soft" dried apricots that did no need to pre-soak. If your dried fruit is leathery and dry, definitely soak it.
  2. Prepare a pudding mould, or 5-cup capacity heat-proof bowl by adding a drop of olive oil, and then spreading it around with a paper towel until the inside of the bowl is well covered, and set aside. If the bowl does not have handles, construct a foil sling to lower and raise the pudding out of the pressure cooker.
  3. Prepare the pressure cooker base with two cups of cold water and the steamer basket or trivet.
  4. Into a food processor bowl add the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt . Pulse a few times to mix.
  5. Then, add the chopped butter and pulse a few more times until evenly distributed.
  6. Next, add the eggs and maple syrup, and pulse the processor a few times until well blended.
  7. Strain the dried fruit, and give it a quick rinse under cold water if it's still a little bit hot. Sprinkle the dried fruit and grated carrot on top of the mixture.
  8. Use a spatula to stab, zig-zag and otherwise mix the fruit through the mixture.
  9. Coax the pudding batter into the prepared bowl using the spatula. Lower the un-covered bowl onto the steamer basket and close the pressure cooker lid.
  10. Cover the pressure cooker with a normal lid - if you don't have one that fits your pressure cooker remove the pressure valve and gasket from the pressure cooker lid; or, set the valve to "release" or "no pressure". For electric pressure cookers turn on the Brown/Saute setting, for stove top pressure cookers turn on the heat to the highest setting. When steam begins coming out of the valve (in about 10 minutes), lower the heat to medium and begin counting 15 minutes of steam-without-pressure pre-cooking time.
  11. When time is up remove the lid tilting it to the side to guide the condensation under the lid away from the pudding. Add the pressure cooking lid, or put the valve and gasket back one - the lid will be hot so use oven mitts or tongs to do this.
  12. Pressure cook for 30 to 35 minutes at high pressure.
  13. When time is up, open the pressure cooker with the Natural release method - move the cooker off the burner and wait for the pressure to come down on its own (about 10 minutes). For electric pressure cookers, disengage the “keep warm” mode or unplug the cooker and open when the pressure indicator has gone down (about 20 minutes).
  14. Leave the pressure cooker closed for an additional 10 minutes after the pressure has released - this is important as a pudding that is too hot coming out of the cooker will turn hard and dry very quickly. If you intend to cool the pudding and serve it at another time, anyway, leave the pudding in the cooker for 20 minutes more after the natural release.
  15. Remember to tilt the pressure cooking lid when you remove it to prevent the condensation from dibbling back onto the pudding.
  16. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the middle of the pudding - it should come out clean if the pudding is fully cooked.
  17. Lift the pudding out of the pressure cooker and cover tightly until ready to invert and serve.
  18. Serve with an optional dousing of fresh cream.

Pressure Cooked Christmas PuddingPressure Cooked Christmas Pudding

You can use any tried and true steamed pudding recipe in your pressure cooker following this technique, cooking times and opening method. If you make the puddings in ramekins, instead, steam-without-pressure for 10 minutes and pressure cook for 10 minutes, and then follow the pressure release instructions.

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