Sticky figgy puddings

Howard shares his simple dairy-free take on the classic figgy pudding, the perfect gluten-free dessert to serve up after Christmas dinner. Drenched in an indulgently sticky caramel sauce, these puddings are extremely versatile and can be made even more festive with a little orange zest or cinnamon. For an added bit of decadence, smother with Marsala or brandy before adorning the puddings with the caramel sauce.

First published in 2015

If your list to Santa includes a dairy-free pud that's lighter than the traditional offering and low in refined sugar, this could be a Christmas gift with your name on it. It's worth tracking down chestnut flour for its flavour and obvious seasonal connotations. By all means add a little cinnamon or orange zest if you fancy, but you will lose some of the subtle chestnut taste as a result.

The caramel sauce takes just a few minutes to make – granted there's not a lot, but you really only need a little, don't you? If you crave indulgence you could add a scoop of (dairy-free) ice cream; if you crave alcohol you could anoint the puds with Marsala or brandy before pouring on the sauce . . . or just have a tipple on the side.

The puddings dome dramatically when baked, so trim them level if the sight of a wobbly bottom smacks too much of impending New Year diets.

Recipe taken from Howard Middleton's book Delicious Gluten-Free Baking published by Little, Brown.





  • 3 tbsp of light olive oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 100g of chestnut flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 150ml of boiling water
  • 2 tsp instant coffee powder
  • 100g of dried figs, roughly chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 75g of coconut sugar
  • 30g of ground rice
  • 1/2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum


  • 35g of coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp of date syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 3 tbsp of non-dairy milk, such as hemp or coconut


Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
Grease the tins with a little olive oil placed on a piece of kitchen roll. Dust with chestnut flour and shake to remove any excess
Dissolve the coffee powder in boiling water and pour over the chopped figs
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil and coconut sugar until frothy. This should only take a few minutes
Mix in the chestnut flour, ground rice, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and xanthan gum with a wooden spoon before stirring in the fig and coffee mixture
Spoon the mixture evenly between the prepared tins and place onto a baking tray. Transfer to an oven and bake for around 25 minutes or until fully risen and firm to the touch. As an extra test insert a knife or cake tester into the middle – if it comes out clean the puddings are done
Leave the puddings to cool in the tins for about 5 minutes, then remove from the tins by sliding a thin knife around the edge of the puddings and turn upside down on a plate. If so desired, the bottoms can be trimmed to create a perfectly flat base
For the sauce, first place the coconut sugar, date syrup and vanilla paste into a small pan. Place this over a low to medium heat until all the sugar has dissolved
Pour in the non-dairy milk and bring to the boil, before turning the heat down to a simmer. Once the mixture has thickened a little pour the sauce evenly over each of the puddings
First published in 2015

Howard is a food writer and presenter from Sheffield, who first caught the public’s attention on series four of The Great British Bake Off, going on to win their affection with his quirky style and love of unusual ingredients.

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