English Plum Pudding
This year I made my first English plum pudding, which I also learned is not a pudding and has no plums in it. Astonishing.
I now understand that the English refer to all desserts as puddings. However, the same (British) source that told me that had no explanation for Yorkshire pudding, which is most definitely savory. According to the dictionary, an English pudding can be sweet or savory, but it is cooked using steam. However, even a cursory investigation into English pudding recipes reveals that many so-called “puddings” are baked, not steamed. So, I am no closer to an understanding of how to correctly use the term pudding in English nomenclature than I was to begin with.
Nonetheless, I have been reading Dickens lately, and it is impossible to read A Christmas Carol twice and not wanting to taste Mrs. Cratchit’s magnificent pudding (or pudding-not pudding). And it is impossible to read recipes that involve brandy flambé and not wanting to join in the merriment. So here we go.
You’re going to need some special equipment to make this because this pudding is indeed steamed. A 2-quart (or 2-litre) pudding steamer with a lid will do the trick. This is the steamer that I have and it works beautifully. At the bottom of this post, I will include a link to another steamer that would also work as well as to the bitter orange marmalade that I used, and the lemon zester. (Sometimes it is hard to find these items in your local stores and ordering through Amazon makes life so much simpler.)
You will also need a small rack upon which to place it in the pot so that the bottom does not scorch. This is similar to the one that I use.
And you will need to be home for 6 hours while it steams. Yes, you read that right. Six hours. Also, this pudding improves with age, so make it a week or two before you wish to serve it.
- 3 cups packed coarse fresh breadcrumbs from white bread (1/2 lb. loaf, crusts on)
- 1 cup Sultana raisins
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1 cup currants
- 1 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon mace
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1/2 lb (2 sticks) melted unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1/8 Teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 cup bitter orange marmalade
- 1/2 cup dark rum
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- 1/2 brandy to flambé
Tear bread into pieces and place in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to form rough crumbs. Empty the crumbs into a large bowl.
Add the raisins and currants to the food processor and process until finely chopped, but do not let them process into a paste. You want some texture to them.
Pour the raisins into the bowl with the bread. Put all of the other ingredients into the food processor and pulse to mix.
Pour the contents of the processor bowl over the bread and raisins and stir to thoroughly mix.
Generously butter the steamed pudding mold and pack the batter into the mold. Top the batter with a round of parchment and cover tightly with the mold lid.
Cover tightly either with the lid on the mold or with a plate and/or aluminum foil.
Place the steamer on a rack in a deep stockpot. Pour water into the stock pot to come 1/3 of the way up the sides of the mold. Bring water to a simmer. Cover tightly and steam for 6 hours, checking regularly to make sure that the water level stays 1/3 of the way up the sides of the mold. (Add more water as needed.)
When you are ready to serve, make the hard sauce. Beat the powdered sugar and soft butter together until fluffy. Then beat in the salt and brandy. Transfer to a serving bowl and chill.
To serve the pudding, remove the sealed steamer from the refrigerator and let the pudding come to room temperature. Then place it back into the stockpot on its rack and steam it until it is warm. Serve the hardsauce alongside the pudding.