Christmas pudding in the form of a warming bowl of festive steel-cut oatmeal, which is topped with custard.
I’ve I mentioned before that I’m Italian on my mother’s side. Well, I’m also European on my father’s side, as my Dad was born in southern England. And I have to say – at the risk of being un-invited from family events – that a lot of traditional British food is seriously strange. I have no idea why anyone would even go near black pudding.
Then there’s the food that’s not overly weird, but was given a totally random name. ‘Toad in the Hole’, anyone? (Don’t worry, there aren’t any amphibians involved). If you’re in the mood for dessert, grab a slice of ‘spotted dick’.
Yeah, that one’s not what it sounds like either.
One of the more ‘normal’ traditional British foods is Christmas pudding, which is similar to fruitcake but much better. Nearly every year we make a Christmas pudding, which is usually made weeks (or even months) in advance.
If Christmas pudding sounds completely foreign to you, let me try and explain it. It’s a steamed pudding made from lots (and I mean lots) of dried fruit, as well as fresh breadcrumbs, a bit of flour, butter, brown sugar, eggs, spices (predominantly cinnamon) and brandy. It’s moist, sweet and boozy. Especially if you flambé it in more brandy before serving.
Christmas pudding is usually served with custard, but I’ve also seen it served with ice cream, cream or brandy butter.
A grated apple is one of those maybe-we-add-it-but-maybe-we-don’t ingredients in Christmas pudding. But for this oatmeal, a grated apple is definitely necessary. It adds a lot of sweetness, some volume, and plenty of flavor.
Seriously, don’t leave out the apple.
Since this is a dessert-for-breakfast oatmeal, I simply had to top it with custard. Of course, if you don’t have any custard, leave it off or even use eggnog instead (they’re not that different). Or just serve the oatmeal with a glass of eggnog.
Uh, maybe a non-boozy eggnog if it’s 8am.
You see that picture just above this writing? That was me being unable to resist eating a spoonful of oatmeal while taking this photos. Not surprisingly, my spoon immediately went for candy sitting on top of the oatmeal.
In case you were wondering, those are red and green M&M’s in the pictures. An optional – but highly recommended – topping for this oatmeal.
Now let’s go eat some festive oatmeal!
This post was updated (with new pictures) in December 2015.
- For the oatmeal
- 2 tablespoons raisins
- 2 tablespoons chopped dates
- 2 teaspoons currants
- 2 teaspoons candied mixed peel
- 1 teaspoon brandy extract
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup steel-cut oats
- Pinch of salt
- 1 apple, grated
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- Pinch of ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon blackstrap molasses
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
- Christmas candy
- In a small bowl, combine the raisins, chopped dates, currants, candied mixed peel and brandy extract. Mix well, and set aside.
- In a saucepan, bring the almond milk and water to a boil, and then turn down the heat to medium-low. Add the steel-cut oats and salt, and stir well.
- Stir in the dried fruit mixture and grated apple.
- Add the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, blackstrap molasses and vanilla extract. Stir well to ensure the spices are evenly distributed.
- Steel-cut oatmeal generally takes 20 - 30 minutes to cook. As it’s cooking, add more almond milk if it looks as though the oatmeal is drying out.
- Once the oats have softened and are creamy, stir in the slivered almonds. Divide the oatmeal between two bowls. Top each bowl with some custard and Christmas candy. Enjoy!
Blackstrap molasses give the oatmeal a slight brown sugar taste. If you don’t have this ingredient, add ½ - 1 tablespoon brown sugar.