Tested by and buddy

Our best results making plum pudding have been using therecipe from Time-Life International series, Cookingof the British Isles, in combination with directions in TheJoy of Cooking.  Athree-day process: day one–mix ingredients and place in refrigerator overnight;days two and three–steam puddings. Cutting back on the amount you make will cutthat down to a two-day process, obviously.  While you do not have to hang over the puddings most of this time, I dosuggest planning to do it when you will be around to monitor, especially gasflames adjusted to their lowest point for simmering the puddings.)

PLUM PUDDING   (a.k.a.Christmas pudding)  
(If you want to make enough to be able to share with friends, give away asgifts, etc., consider doubling the recipe below. A double recipe fills all 3 large plus 1 medium and 1 small steamer plus2 small stainless steel bowls    or     fills 5 large molds plus 1 smallsteamer.  Can cook on two differentdays if you have a shortage of cooktop area, just cover uncooked portion welland put into refrigerator for a day or two. It takes me two days of steaming to do whole double batch but additionalpuddings are usually worth it.)

To make four, one-quart puddings–
1 ½  cupsdried currants
2 cups seedless raisins
2 cups white raisins
¾  cupfinely chopped candied mixed fruit peel
¾  cupfinely chopped candied cherries
1 cup blanched slivered almonds
1 medium-sized tart cooking apple, peeled, quartered, cored and coarsely chopped
1 small carrot, scraped and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons finely grated orange peel
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
½  poundfinely chopped beef suet
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 cups fresh soft crumbs, pulverized in a blender
1 cup dark-brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon salt
6 eggs
1 cup brandy
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup freshlemon juice
½ cup brandy,for flaming (optional)

In a large, deep bowl, combine the currants, seedless raisins, whiteraisins, candied fruit peel, cherries, almonds, apple, carrot, orange and lemonpeel, and beef suet, tossing them about with a spoon or your hands until wellmixed.  Stir in the flour, breadcrumbs, brown sugar, allspice and salt. 
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until frothy.  Stir in the 1 cup of brandy, the orange and lemon juice, andpour this mixture over the fruit mixture.  Kneadvigorously with both hands, then beat with a wooden spoon until all theingredients are blended.  Drape adampened kitchen towel over the bowl and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
Prepare pudding molds:  Lightlygrease/butter interiors, including tops, and sprinkle sugar over, just as youmight dust a buttered cake pan with flour if making a regular cake. (Thisdusting of sugar is necessary to facilitate the flaming of the pudding at thetime of serving. Be sure to butter and sugar top of mold as well as base.) Spoonthe mixture into the molds, filling them to within 2 inches of their tops, i.e.no more than two-thirds full.
If yourpudding molds do not have covers, cover each mold with anappropriately sized piece of buttered and sugared aluminum foil. Turn the edges down and press the foil tightly around the sides to secureit. 
Drape a dampened kitchen towel over each mold and tie it in place around thesides with a long piece of kitchen cord.  Bringtwo opposite corners of the towel up to the top and knot them in the center ofthe mold; then bring up the remaining two corners and knot them similarly.
The slow, six-to-eight-hour cooking process is necessary so that all thesuet melts before the flour particles burst. If the pudding cooks too fast and the flour grains burst before the fatmelts, the pudding will be close and hard.

First, the methoddescribed in Time-Life’s  “Cooking of the BritishIsles”–

Use one-quart English pudding basins or plain molds,filling them to within two inches of their tops. Place the molds in a large potand pour in enough boiling water to come about one half of the way up theirsides.  Bring the water to a boilover high heat, cover the pot tightly, reduce the heat to its lowest point (onan electric stove, reduce heat to halfway between low and medium low) and steamthe puddings for 8 hours.  As thewater in the steamer boils away, replenish it with additional boiling water.

Second, the methoddescribed in my mid-sixties edition of “The Joy of Cooking”–

Containers should be only 2/3 full. Place molds on a trivet in a heavy kettle over 1 inch of boiling water. Cover kettle closely.  Usehigh heat at first, then, as the steam begins to escape, low heat for rest ofcooking.

True steamed puddings need complete circulation of steam,so do not expect good results if you use a greased double boiler! (Note, however, a double boiler is okay when you reheat the pudding priorto serving.)

Alwaysbefore unmolding, take the lid from the mold and allow the pudding to rest longenough to let excess steam escape, then the pudding will be less apt to crack inunmolding.  But also, be sure tounmold before the puddings are too cool or they will stick to the molds.

Run a knife around the inside edges of the mold and placean inverted serving plate over it.  Graspingthe mold and plate firmly together, turn them over. The pudding should slide out easily. 

Wrap individual, unmolded puddings in cheesecloth soaked inbrandy and refrigerate until ready to reheat for serving.

Toserve, place the wrapped pudding in a double boiler (okay forreheating to serve though not for initial steaming) or steamer over (not in) gently boiling water, i.e. over simmering water. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low and steam for at least 2 hours; wehave done this as much as 4 hours, when dinner and dessert are delayed ordifficult to time.   

If you would like to set the pudding aflame before youserve it, warm the 1/2 cup of brandy in a small saucepan over low heat, igniteit with a match and pour it flaming over the pudding.

Christmas pudding is traditionally accompanied by hard sauce or brandybutter, see below.
(See also recipes in dessert saucesection of “Home Cookin’”.)

HARDSAUCE  (adapted from “The Joy ofCooking”)

Sift:                             1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Beat until soft:              5 tablespoons butter
Add the sugar gradually.  Beat theseingredients until they are well blended. 
Add:                            1/8 teaspoon salt
                                   1 teaspoon vanilla or 1 tablespoon brandy or rum
Beat in:                        (1 egg or 1/4 cup cream) (optional)

When the sauce is very smooth, chill thoroughly.


4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened                          3 tablespoons brandy
1/2 cup superfine (Bar) sugar                                         1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combineingredients in a bowl, and beat with an electric beater until the mixture issmooth and well blended.   Refrigerate at least 4 hours, or until firm.

These recipes have been kitchen tested.

You can find this and related recipes by tapping here on the Home Cookin’ index.


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