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Grandma’s Steamed Pudding Goes GF

                       So, Vegetarian Times and Arrowhead Mills are hosting a gluten free holiday re-do contest.  When I saw this, I screamed like a little fangirl and automatically reached out to my mom for a family recipe to enter.  She and my grandma unearthed a recipe from my great-grandmother: Steamed Pudding.  Not having grown up eating this recipe, I immediately envisioned a steaming jell-o mold.  This is definitely not what steamed pudding is (thank God)!  This specific recipe is technically a steamed date nut bread, which my mom grew up eating each Christmas.  I was excited once I saw the ingredients.  It’s was simple to make and it wasn’t hard to convert to a vegan and gluten free delight!

Picture

My great-grandma’s original recipe. You can see where my grandma marked her changes in with pencil. She had her own blend of flours that looks way more complicated than mine!

                        Usually when I try to veganize and de-glutenize an old family recipe, things go wrong for the first few attempts.  I’ve learned over the years to have very low expectations!  It’s just the nature of gluten free baking, I suppose.  Vegan baking has become second nature to me now, so that I’m not too scared of.  The gluten free flours that I’ve experimented with don’t even scratch the surface of their vastness.  There are so many flours to choose from and so little patience I have!  If you do venture out of the prepared gluten free flour blends (which can be awesome!), you will have to prepare yourself for a little trial and error work.  After using grain flours like sorghum, teff, millet and rice in baking, I now have a (somewhat) better understanding of their properties.  Sorghum is fattier and makes very moist but crumbly cakes.  Teff is similar in texture, but I find it to me more crumbly and have a more pronounced flavor.  Millet and brown rice flours are my favorite to use because of their mild flavors and their lighter texture.  Rice flour is lighter than millet, so I usually use more of it in my ratio.  
                     In the beginning, I was very irritated with xanthan gum.  This is used to replace the bounciness of gluten in gluten free recipes.  One time, I used way too much in a cookie recipe and my cookies had the consistency of glue.  Gross.  After omitting xanthan gum from my recipes after that, I learned my lesson.  Xanthan, like all fine things, needs to be used in moderation (most of the time, sparingly!).  I have begun to use it again because my baked goods would come out to be too crumbly and fell apart.  The xanthan gum, when mixed with flax seed “eggs”, helps to bind batters together and give them a sturdiness that gluten would normally do.  I use only a quarter teaspoon here, but it makes all the difference.
                      I kept the flavors the same in this recipe.  Although, if you would like to experiment with different nuts and/or dried fruits, feel free!  I used hazelnuts for this batch, but I would definitely like to use pecans or walnuts to see how the texture changes.  Also, you do not have to use the sea salt as a garnish, but I highly recommend it!  It’s a simple yet extraordinary experience to taste sweet and salty together.  Mmmm…
                       So, without further a-do, my 4th generation vegan, gluten free steamed pudding!

Date Nut Steamed Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce
       Yield: 6-8 servings

*Note: You will need a steamer to make this recipe the traditional way.  However, I’ve tried it in the oven and it comes out pretty good that way.  I’ll include those instructions too!

       Ingredients

  • 1 cup dates, finely chopped
  • 1 cup + 3 Tb water
  • 2 Tb melted coconut oil/Earth Balance
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar 
  • 1 Tb flax meal
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup millet flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp gluten free vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped nuts, optional
  • 1 recipe salted caramel sauce (follows)

Instructions

In a small pot, bring water to a boil.  Add the dates and oil/Earth Balance.  Lower heat to medium-low and stir until thickened, about 3 minutes.  Turn heat off and add sugar, flax, vanilla, and vinegar to the date mixture.  Let it cool while you prepare the dry ingredients.
Sift together the flours, spices, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine with a sturdy spoon.  Fold in the nuts, if using.  
Prepare a stove top steamer by filling the bottom with water, making sure to leave some room between the water and the pot.  Pour the batter into the pot and steam for about 2 hours or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Check the water level periodically to make sure there is some still in there.  
Let the pudding cool thoroughly before turning it out onto a plate or platter.  Serve with the caramel sauce and perhaps a sprinkling of course sea salt (if you wanna).  Sing Christmas carols.

If you want to bake the pudding instead, grease a loaf pan or line a muffin tin with liners and pour/scoop the batter in.  Bake at 350 F for about 25-30 mins for muffins and about 35-40 for a loaf. Make sure to test the pudding with a cake tester or toothpick before removing it.  The batter is quite moist and it can be hard to tell when it’s finished.

Salted Caramel Sauce

  • 1/4 pound Earth Balance/Coconut Oil
  • 1 cup raw sugar/coconut sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tb coconut milk/cashew milk

Instructions

In a small saucepan, bring sugar and oil/Earth Balance to a boil. Let boil and thicken, stirring to make sure it does not burn. Once thickened, lower heat and add salt, vanilla, and milk of choice. Turn heat up to medium-low and stir until thickened and glossy. Pour on top of pudding and devour!  

P.S. If you’d like more information about the Vegetarian Times contest, visit this link.  I’m excited to see what everyone makes (so I can take their ideas! =P)!  

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