Hello! I hope you’re enjoying the holiday season. In our home, the first thing that happens to mark this time of year is that Nick makes Christmas Pudding (also known as “Plum Pudding”), following a recipe that’s been in his family for over a hundred years.
I have a fond memory associated with this particular dessert. He and I met 24 years ago in November and, as she did every year back then, his mother had sent him one of these puddings in the mail. He brought it over to my apartment one dark winter evening (that was the year that it snowed so much that the army was called into Toronto to help clear the roads), including the ingredients to make the Brandy Butter that you have with it. You douse it in brandy just before serving and I remember, without knowing why, I was asked to turn off all the lights as he dramatically lit the pudding on fire. It was very memorable and special.
Recently, I found his old handwritten recipe for the pudding, pressed between the pages of an old book. He’d written it out as a young adult, just as he was moving from the family home. He’d misplaced it years ago and had gotten another copy from his mom, so it was a nostalgic surprise to see the original, with his cute youthful handwriting.
I borrowed it for a Christmas display I set up in our kitchen — a tiered tray decorated with items that you might find in Santa’s Bakery.
I’ve made this Youtube video for it, including a discussion of some of the items used, and the real-time assembly, if you’d like to see. (Thank you if you do!)
About the pudding, when I first tried it, it was unlike anything I’d ever tasted and I must warn that it’s an acquired taste for some, but it’s delicious enough that some people have been making it every December for over a century. Note that it is not vegetarian as it calls for suet (which is beef fat). Here’s the recipe …
Steamed Plum Pudding
- 6 tbs all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup prepared/minced suet ( found in the frozen section of meat department, or directly from a butcher )
- 1/4 cup of brown sugar
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 2 cups of chopped pitted prunes
- 1/4 cup chopped candied orange and/or lemon peel
- 3/4 cup chopped other available dried fruit (dates/figs, raisins/currants/cranberries etc.)
- 2/3 cup of chopped fresh bread crumbs. Use some day-old stale bread.
- 2 beaten eggs
- 4 tbs Brandy
Sift the dry ingredients [ flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, salt ] together in a large mixing bowl.
Mix all the remaining ingredients together very thoroughly.
You can choose to make one large pudding using a 5-6 cup bowl or, make two puddings into smaller 3 cup bowls. I usually make two smaller puddings. Use heat safe bowls i.e. glass, metal, ceramic.
Line the bowl(s) with a large cut of parchment paper such that it can encase the pudding(s) inside. Fill the parchment paper pocketed bowls with the pudding mixture and pat it down.
Steam pudding bowl(s) for four hours. Let cool and drain off any excess liquid in the bowls. Excess liquid will probably contain some suet film so keep that out of your drain.
After this initial steam cook stage the pudding can be left in a cool place for quite a long time. This can be at least a 6 month duration in my experience. So, this is when I mail the pudding to my family.
Steam the parchment wrapped pudding for 1 hour before serving.
Remove parchment paper and place pudding fat side down on a ceramic plate with a good sized lip. Drizzle the pudding with Brandy or Rum ( 1-2 tbs ). Turn the lights down and ignite the pudding. There will be a blue flame that licks the pudding and it should burn for about 15-30 seconds before extinguishing. The flame will not burn the plate. Obviously, since you are setting a fire here, please be mindful about how you go about doing it.
Divide the pudding and serve with a good dollop of Brandy Butter.
A delicious and dark, steamed Christmas plum pudding.
- 1/2 cup salted butter at room temperature.
- 1 1/4 cup icing sugar
- 2 tsp Brandy
Mash all the ingredients together with a fork until you get the consistency of a fluffy icing. You may need to add a little more icing sugar as you go, I learned to rough measure the sugar until I get it to the fluffiness stage.
Chill the Brandy Butter so that it firms up.
Simple brandy flavoured butter icing.