You need to start making this vegan Christmas pudding the day before you want to steam it as the fruit needs to soak overnight. Mix together the raisins, currants and chopped dried dates and apricots with the rum/brandy/sherry and the orange zest and juice. Cover and leave to soak overnight. I give it a stir every now and again to ensure that the fruit is equally coated.
The next day, stir the peeled, cored and grated cooking apple into the fruit mixture.
Next, stir in the self-raising flour, fresh breadcrumbs, light brown soft sugar and mixed spice followed by the aquafaba, melted refined coconut oil, non-dairy milk and chopped almonds.
Grease a 1.2 - 1.4 litre pudding basin and place a disc of baking parchment in the bottom to prevent the top of the pudding from sticking. Put the kettle on.
Spoon the pudding mixture into the greased basin and pack it down firmly then level the top. It is ok if the mixture comes almost all the way up to the top of the basin as it doesn't rise much but make sure that there is at least a centimetre gap at the top.
Make a fold in the middle of a square of baking parchment and the same again in a square of tin foil. Place the baking parchment on top of the pudding basin with the fold in the middle, followed by the tin foil. Press the foil over the edge of the pudding basin.
Tie a length of string very tightly around the foil – there should be a lip on the pudding basin; tie the string just under that. Tie a length of string across the top of the basin to make a handle. Trim off the excess foil and parchment, leaving at least a centimeter below the string.
Place a saucer upside down in a large saucepan to act as a trivet and place the pudding basin on top. Pour boiling water into the pan so that it comes about halfway up the pudding basin, don't let it touch the foil.
Place the lid on the pan and place over a low heat. Cook at a gentle simmer for five hours (it will do the pudding no harm to leave it to cook for a bit longer than that). Check every now and again to see if the water needs topping up but resist the urge to take the lid off the pan too often.
When it is cooked, the pudding should be a deep brown colour and be firm to the touch with a little bit of bounce. A skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean.
Once the pudding is done steaming, remove it from the pan and leave it to cool then remove the baking parchment and tin foil and replace them with fresh ones. Store in a cool, dry place for up to six months, feeding it occasionally with rum or brandy.
On Christmas day, steam the pudding in the same way for 1-2 hours before serving it. See instructions in the post above for how to flame it.