Plum puddings were always a symbol in our family that either Christmas or New Year’s Eve was arriving. We were a family of short-cuts, where we would go in September to our local grocery store, pick up a cellophone wrapped pre-made plum pudding, then bring it home and soak it with brandy. My mother would flip it every few weeks and add a bit more brandy. After three or four months of repeating this procedure, by Christmas it was well soaked. To make it even more exciting, my mother would steam the plum pudding before serving. Of course, serving meant heating even more brandy and pouring in onto the freshly steamed plum pudding. Shutting off the dining room lights just as we were ready to serve it was the grand finale to lighting a match and lighting the plum pudding. There were ohhss and ahhhss as the heated brandy kept flaming for a few minutes. Now that was a Christmas tradition.
So…. this year I decided to make it from scratch. It takes time to find all the ingredients. As I learned, I had to visit several stores to find all of them. Candied cherries were not in the organic store that offered every colour of raisens that I needed. So it went. Store hopping and checking my ingredient list, until I was ready to put together the ingredients for my very first homemade plum pudding!
So, let’s get ready for holiday plum puddings in September. Some people might prefer twelve months of letting your plum pudding soak in brandy for twelve months. It will always have a stronger flavour the longer it sits with brandy.
Here is my recipe for plum pudding:
1/2 pound white seedless raisins
1/2 pound dark seedless raisins
1/2 pound currants
1 cup chopped candied lemon peel
1 cup chopped green candied cherries
1 cup chopped red candied cherries
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup slivered blanched almonds
1/2 teaspoon mace
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 1/2 cup brandy
1 1/4 pounds (approximately) fresh bread crumbs
1 cup scalded milk
6 eggs, well beaten
1 cup sugar
A hard sauce is considered “hard” because it includes alcohol. Although my mother used brandy for her hard sauce, I always preferred using dark rum to make my hard sauce.
Using equal parts of unsalted butter and granulated sugar, mix together adding enough rum to flavour. Put into fridge to solidify until using. Generously dallup a spoonful of hard sauce with each serving of your plum pudding. It should melt in your mouth.
Blend the fruits, citron, peel, spices together in a bowl. Add 1/4 cup brandy, cover tightly, then refrigerate.
Soak the bread crumbs in milk and sherry or port. Combine the well-beaten eggs and sugar. Blend with the fruit mixture. Put the pudding in buttered bowls or tins, filling them about 2/3 full. Cover with a damp dish towel. Steam for 6-7 hours. Uncover and place in a 250°F. oven for 30 minutes. Add a dash of brandy to each pudding, cover with foil and keep in a cool place.
Just before using, steam again for 2-3 hours and unmold. When you are ready to present and serve to your guests, who are patiently waiting for the lights to be turned off, heat a cup of brandy, then pour over your plum pudding when warm. Ignite and bring to the table. Serve with hard sauce.
If you have dinner guests who are not familiar with Commonwealth traditions, this will be a memorable dining experience. Enjoy!
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