Thursday, December 12, 2013

Making Plum Pudding for the First Time in 40 Years

I've always wanted to try this again. In 1972 when I was 21 I tried making plum pudding. The result was, well, not so great. But my mother would make it sometimes at the holidays and I remembered the taste and the excitement of the flaming pudding being brought to the table. Mom also used to wrap silver coins in waxed paper and put them in the pudding so that was something we looked forward to, money being a scarce commodity for us children.

In the past few years I've bought not one but two pudding pans. Actually, three---one I put for sale in my booth. I kept the other two, thinking I would surely use them, but until today they just took up space in my cabinet. The time was right today, though, so I found a recipe that sounded something like what I remembered of my mother's puddings and set to work.

Of course, I didn't have all the right ingredients. And I forgot to add the chopped apples AND the silver coins! Ah me. Even with my substitutions and deletions, the puddings came out pretty well. As a matter of fact, I plan to make more next week, because I read that they are best if kept for a year before serving. Just like fruitcake that is properly soaked with brandy and packed up and put away, the flavors and texture keep developing.

Here's the recipe I used:

1 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup honey (recipe called for white sugar and molasses, but I didn't have molasses so I used brown sugar and honey as a sort of substitute
1 cup butter, at room temperature (butter, not margarine or shortening)
1 cup apple cider (recipe called for milk)
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 tsp salt (that's not very much, is it?)
1 tsp baking soda
3 teaspoons baking powder
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour plus 2 additional tablespoons
1 1/2 cups raisins, finely chopped (I used more than that, and mixed dark and golden raisins since I had them, and I did not chop them)
1 1/2 cups candied fruit mix (that fruitcake mix with citron, orange and lemon peel, cherries, etc)
1 1/2 cups chopped apples (which I forgot to put in)
1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
1 tsp ground cinnamon (I used more because I like cinnamon)
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Boiling water

1. Grease 2 2-pound coffee cans, 2 2-quart pudding molds, or 3 2-quart oven-proof deep baking dishes. The recipe I used didn't say to flour the pans, but mine stuck a bit so next time I'll flour them well too, and hope that helps.

2. In a large bowl, combine sugar, butter, cider or milk, eggs, and molasses.

3. Add salt, baking soda, baking powder and flour. When well mixed add fruit, nuts and spices and mix well.

4. MOST IMPORTANT PART: stir three times and make a wish. Invite anyone else in the house to do the same.

5. Fill each pan 1/2 full of batter. Cover the tops of your pans with their lids, or if you're using a coffee can or baking dish with 2 layers of aluminum foil and seal it well around the edges.

6. In a large pot with a rack or trivet in the bottom, place your pans and add enough boiling water to go 2/3 up the side of each pan. I used my pressure canner for one mold, and another tall pan with the rack from a small pressure cooker in the bottom. I put the pudding molds in, then added warm water to be sure of the right water level, then took my puddings out again and waited until the water boiled. Then I put them into the water, put the lids on the big pots, and reduced the heat to medium low so that the water was just boiling gently.

7. I cooked mine about 5 1/2 hours, until a fork came out clean when I stuck it in to test. There might be some sticky fruit that will cling to the fork a bit but you will be able to tell the difference between that an uncooked dough.

8. When they were done, I took them out of the boiling water, let them cool on a rack for about 20 minutes, then turned them over on the cookie rack to remove them from the mold. They didn't come out right away but when I tapped on the pan they plopped out, leaving a good bit of their tops in the pans. I got those bits out and patted them back in place (and tasted a little bit too---MMMM!).

Now they are still cooling on the counter, but later this evening I will wrap them each in a big white hanky, put them in a plastic bag and soak them with brandy. Then I will put them in the fridge and leave them alone until Christmas.

To serve, I'll make a hard sauce, I think, or perhaps some other sauce (lots of recipes and ideas online ofr these). I'll decorate the top with a few cherries, maybe, then pour brandy over and light it (I hope) with a match. Think that will work? I'll let you know, so stay tuned. (Or if you know something about this part that I don't know, do tell!)

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.



Yummy. I've never had plum pudding but they resemble old fashioned fruitcakes and I love those. You are making me hungry for some down home baking. When I get to Jill's I'll have to bake for the kids. Cool pans - new to me. Thanks for sharing. B

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

I like your recipe - and your substitutions - reminds of the guy that said he had Abe Lincoln's original axe, except for the three new heads and four new handles, it was the original. LOL

Granny Sue said...

Barbara, I'm in a baking mood this year--and have to be careful or I'll put on 10 pounds, no joke. But I do love to bake and this year wanted to get back to doing a little more of it.

I found my pans at thrift shops. Most people don't know what they are--the lids lock on and the pans are placed upside down in the hot water. I can see why steamed puddings were popular. When people cooked and heated with wood or coal fires, they usually had a pot of water on the fire or stove anyway just for convenience. I know when I used my wood cookstove I kept a kettle off to one side just for the instant hot water. Very handy. So for the puddings, they'd just plunk the pudding pan into the hot water and let it cook--and still could use the water if needed.

Granny Sue said...

That's about it, Jo Ann :) Fun to cook that way, although for a first attempt it's probably better to stick with a tried and true recipe.

I liked your idea of using a grater for butter before using the pastry blender when making pie crust, by the way. That makes such good sense. Thanks for that tip!

steeleweed said...

Will be trying this recipe soon.
Veddy British tradition, doncha know?

My wife makes fruitcakes every few years. One gallon of fruit to 1 cup of batter. Like baklava, they are so rich you serve only very thin slices and they last forever. Each year we unwrap, sprinkle with brandy or sherry, rewrap in wax paper, then foil and seal in metal container. Think the oldest still around is about 10 years old - and still tasty.

Enjoy whatever you bake - and the holidays. :-)

Malinda Tamlyn said...

I haven't had plum pudding since 1976. It brings back fond memories of Christmas long since past. Let us know how it turned out!

Tipper said...

Fascinating! I've never eaten nor even seen one before-I've only read and heard about them in connection with Christmas. If you keep one for a year-I can't wait to see the results!

Quinn said...

Quite an undertaking! I'll be looking forward to the results, and the next one and the one after that!
I've often thought of making Boston brown bread but haven't tried it's made as a steamed pudding, too.

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