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Christmas Plum Pudding!

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Ah, plum pudding. My mooma has always made it for Christmas dessert, accompanied by hard sauce, custard sauce, and turning out the lights and setting the thing on fire. And we all sing the “bring us a figgy pudding” verse of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.” It’s possibly the most English thing my family does on an annual basis. I was determined to replicate this tradition in my first Hamilton Christmas away from my West Coast homeland, and I was very pleased it all worked out the way I wanted it to! In both taste and flammability. Not everyone loves Christmas pudding, which is really just a moist, steamed version of the much-maligned and alternatively loved Christmas fruit cake. I love all these things, for the record. If you want to attempt this early-modern monstrosity yourself, I’ve copied below the recipe that emerged from one I found on Allrecipes. You really feel like you’re making something old-fashioned here, and I found it to be pretty fun. I’m glad it stuck around past those dreary centuries that it was a type of “meat pottage.”
For the hard sauce, I just mixed some icing sugar and Earth Balance with some brandy, rum extract, and vanilla extract– like a very thick buttercream.

Christmas Plum Pudding– makes one pudding that fills about 2/3-3/4 of a 7 cup corningware.

1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 and 1/4 c. fresh bread crumbs (I shredded a slightly stale kaiser bun)
1/4 c. Earth Balance, melted (about– I kind of eyeballed it out of the tub)
one of those little individual size containers apple sauce (I think one of these is about 1/2 c.?)
1 T. ground flax whisked with 3 T. water
1/2 small carrot, grated
1/2 apple, peeled, cored, and grated
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. sliced almonds
about 2-3 T. chopped crystallized ginger
1 T. ground almonds
1/4 c. + 2 T. chopped walnuts
2 T. + 2 t. dark raisins
3 T. dried currants
3 T. golden raisins
scant 1/2 c. deluxe Christmas mixed candied peel– I used one that included cherries; I think this is what made it “deluxe.”
5-7 small dried plums (aka prunes), diced
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
3/4 t. pumpkin pie spice (you could rig something up with ginger, cloves, and cinnamon if you don’t have a dad that passes on mysterious tins of “pumpkin pie spice” when he moves to another city)
1/4 t. baking powder
1/4 c. brandy
1 T. blackstrap molasses

(Now, I think recipes for this kind of pudding are pretty forgiving with regard to little substitutions and so forth.)
Several days before serving time, mix all ingredients together in a big bowl. If it’s super stiff, you can add a bit more brandy, but I didn’t have this problem.
Grease a seven-cup corningware or similar basin. Fill with the mixture, cover top with greased parchment, then cover the basin with foil. I stuck the glass cover on top of this and then molded the edges of the foil in and around the edges of the glass top to make as tight a seal as possible. (The original instructions say to tie the foil down to the sides with string.)
Now, the steaming. I used a large soup pot with a steaming basket in the bottom. Water is supposed to go halfway up your pudding container. Boil the water and then turn the heat down and simmer the whole shebang with the soup pot top on for five hours. Fill with more water when necessary– I only had to do it once or twice; having the thing covered keeps in the vast majority of the water.
Cool the pudding and keep covered in the fridge, basting or “feeding” the pudding every one or two days with a bit of brandy.
On serving day, you’ll want to heat up the pudding by the same steaming method you used to cook it, for about one to two hours. The way my Christmas day unfolded, I ended up steaming it for an hour or two during dinner prep, and then turning it off and leaving it in there while we watched a movie, and then turning the heat on again and steaming it some more, and it turned out great. To flame the pudding, I just poured a little puddle of brandy over the inverted pudding and put a lit match to it. Instructions all over the internet say to hold a ladle of brandy over a lit candle until it alights, then to pour the lit brandy over the pudding, but this seemed unnecessarily tricky to me!

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Me to Mack: “This has to have medieval origins when it looks like this, yet would have been one of the most special and expensive dishes a family would have cooked in the entire year.”

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This is the delicious hard sauce. A little goes a long way.

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The next day, cold. You are supposed to serve the cold hard sauce over the hot pudding so the sauce melts all over it, but it was just as enjoyable this way.

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Written by phdelicious

December 27, 2010 at 6:24 pm

Posted in Baking

Tagged with , ,

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