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Nov 20, 2003 10:39 PM

suet alternative for plum pudding?

  • d

We want to make a plum pudding this year, but all of our recipes use suet, and we want our vegetarian friends to be able to eat it--what should we use as a substitute? Help much appreciated!

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  1. Suet behaves differently from butter or margarine, or even shortening, as it contains more solids. You can try vegetable shortening.

    On the other hand, in the earlier thread where you and I were discussing ageing plum pudding, as well as an old-fashioned suet pudding, I posted a recipe for a plum pudding that uses butter as its fat. If your friends can eat butter, great. If not, use margarine or shortening.

    Below is a recipe for a carrot pudding that is also non-suet. Good luck.

    Sorry, all my recipes are North American, so all my measurements are by volume. Hope you can convert.

    Carrot Brandy Christmas Pudding
    Serves 8
    From: "Winter Pleasures" by Noel Richardson, Whitecap Books, 1990

    2 + 1/2 cups (675 mL) grated raw carrot
    3 cups (750 mL) grated apple
    2 cups (500 mL) white flour (all-purpose)
    1 cup (250 mL) blanched almonds, coarsely chopped
    1 cup (250 mL) currants
    1 cup (250 mL) raisins
    1 + 1/2 cups (375 mL) chopped pitted dates
    4 tsp. (20 mL) baking powder
    1 tsp. (5 mL) ground cloves
    1 tsp. (5 mL) ground nutmeg
    2 tsp. (10 mL) ground cinnamon
    1/2 cup (125 mL) butter or margarine
    1/2 cup (125 mL) dark brown sugar
    1/2 cup (125 mL) brandy
    2 tsp. (10 mL) baking soda

    I'd suggest soaking the fruit in juice overnight beforehand, but that's me. Also, feel free to change the dried fruits, but I'm sure you know that.

    Grate carrot and apple. Set aside. Toss nuts and dried fruit with 1/2 cup (125 mL) of the flour and set aside. Mix together remaining flour, baking powder, and spices. In a separate bowl, cream fat and brown sugar together. Add flour mixture to brown sugar mixture by thirds, alternating with adding brandy by halves. Stir well after each addition. Add the grated carrot and apple. Mix baking soda thoroughly with floured fruit and nuts and add to the rest of the mixture. Mix lightly with a spoon or with your hands.

    Fille greased pudding mould, bowl, or coffee can 2/3 full. Cover tightly with foil or lid and steam in a large container with a lid for 4-5 hours.

    Make the pudding in November to allow the flavour to ripen by Christmas (Noel's instructions). Wrap in a clean tea towel soaked in brandy and store in a cool place. Serve warm with a custard sauce or hard sauce (a caramel or butterscotch sauce is also really good).

    6 Replies
    1. re: Colleen

      That sounds lovely--I might have to make it sometime. I can't seem to find our previous discussions--I'm rather terrible at using the search feature. Would you mind terribly re-posting the recipe? And do you think if it was made this weekend it would be ready for Dec. 20?

      1. re: divstudent

        Sure. The thread was started back on November 4th by Elle. Below is the pudding. I forgot that it contains one egg. If your vegetarian friends cannot/will not eat eggs, you may be able to get away with leaving it out and substituting a little more liquid, as it's only one.

        I'd go ahead and make it--I've never really worried about ageing the puddings, so I think three to four weeks, will be fine.

        This recipe is from the "Canadian Homestead Cookbook" a collection of 19th and early 20th-century family recipes. I've also included the recipe for Brandy Hard Sauce from this book.

        BRANDY PLUM PUDDING (Serves 6)
        from the "Canadian Homestead Cookbook" by Jeanne Scargall, Methuen Publications, 1980

        1/3 cup soft butter
        3/4 cup packed brown sugar
        1 egg
        2 tbsp. brandy
        1/2 cup currants
        1/2 cup seedless raisins
        1/2 cup dates, chopped
        1/3 cup candied pineapple, chopped
        1/3 cup candied cherries, chopped
        1/3 cup citron, chopped
        1/2 cup pecans, chopped
        1 cup flour
        1/2 tsp. baking soda
        1/4 tsp. salt
        1/4 tsp. cinnamon
        1/8 tsp. allspice
        1/8 tsp. ginger
        1/8 tsp. nutmeg

        Raisins and currants are better if boiled a few minutes in water or allowed to soak overnight in orange juice, brandy, rum, or whiskey before being used.

        Grease a 5-cup mould or pudding dish, sprinkle it with sugar, and shake it around to coat the bottom and sides.

        Cream together the butter and brown sugar. Beat in the egg and brandy. Stir in the fruit and nuts.

        Sift together the flour, soda, salt, and spices. Stir into the fruit mixture, mixing well.

        Spoon batter into the mould. Cover with heavy-duty aluminum foil or a lid. Set on a rack in a large kettle. Add boiling water halfway up the side of the mould. Cover the pan tightly, and allow to steam for four hours.

        Store pudding in a cool, dry place. Steam again for about 1-1/2 hours before serving.


        - The candied peel, fruit, and citron made nowadays is usually heavily coated with preservatives and it must be washed before being used. Pour boiling water into a bowl to cover the required amount of candied peel/fruit/citron, stirring and swishing the water for about a minute. Rinse and drain thoroughly before using. Soaking it in Sherry or Madeira (or the other suggested liquids) improves the flavour immensely.

        - I'd be inclined to replace the candied pineapple and cherrie with some other dried fruit of choice, but that's personal taste.


        1/2 cup soft butter
        1 + 1/2 cups sifted icing sugar (confectioner's sugar)
        3 tbsp. Brandy

        Beat butter until fluffy. Gradually beat in the sugar and brandy. Chill until serving time.

        1. re: Colleen

          At the beginning of the ingredients it says sugar but no amount. Can you help me?

          1. re: STRANRAERSCOT

            Did you see the 2003 date? That poster doesn't even have a profile.

            1. re: STRANRAERSCOT

              I found the veggie suet at a british shop online and have ordered some.

              1. re: STRANRAERSCOT

                If I recall another veggie suet thread correctly, this is a mix of high melting point fats (coconut, palm, hydrogenated) and 'fillers' like rice flour, that is designed to mimic the effect of ground or shredded beef fat.

                One of the purposes of suet in the pudding is to create a porous texture. During steaming the fat melts, leaving voids. Without it, such a pudding would be very dense. Now we have reliable alternatives such as baking powder.

      2. You know, I'm not sure if you can get it in North America, but when I lived in Britain they always sold vegetarian suet! Not sure how different it would be from shortening,but I got the impression that the texture was more suet-like than butter or shortening.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Laurella

          I know, I've bought the vegetarian suet there before--but I can't find it anywhere here--if anyone knows of any mail order source, do please tell me!