This classic recipe for plum pudding will bring smiles on Christmas Day.
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- 10 Ounces currants
- 5 Ounces soft brown sugar
- 1 Ounce sliced almonds or chopped nuts
- 1 Teaspoon mixed spice (cinnamon, coriander, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, cloves)
- 5 Ounces self-rising flour
- 5 Ounces suet
- 5 Ounces sultanas
- 5 Ounces stoned raisins
- 3 Ounces mixed fruit peels
- 5 Ounces breadcrumbs
- 1 Teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/3 small can stout
- Splash of milk
Plum Pudding Recipe
Originally, they consisted of beef suet, raisins, currants, prunes, nutmeg, mace, ginger, and among other ingredients evolving from plum porridge, a stew-type dish that was cooked in a pot on top of the stove.
After they were cooled, they were wrapped in cheesecloth soaked in brandy, put in an air-tight container for 2 weeks to mellow.
Many recipes still list suet (beef fat) but, it's hard to find because meats most often arrive at the retail grocer, trimmed, packaged and ready to sell.
This Plum Pudding Recipe uses butter, instead.
Traditional Irish plum pudding recipe for Christmas
Plum pudding is the essence of Christmas in Ireland and no one can ever make it like one's own dear mother, but here's a recipe that's a little bit Clare and a little bit Donegal, with some Dublin thrown in for good measure.
There are many traditions and superstitions surrounding the Christmas pudding. Some traditions say to make the pudding by the 25th Sunday after Trinity, with 13 ingredients to represent Christ and His Disciples. Every member of the family is to take a turn stirring the pudding with a wooden spoon from east to west, in honor of the three kings.
It is said that setting the brandy aflame represents Christ’s passion. A sprig of holly as the garnish is a reminder if His ‘Crown of Thorns.’ Holly supposedly brought good luck and had special healing powers. It was often planted near houses in the belief that it protected the inhabitants.
Some families add coins to the pudding for luck. Everyone then stirs the pudding and makes a wish. Those who get the coins in their serving get wealth, health, happiness, and their wish will come true. Some people even add gold rings to the mix to indicate the finder will get married in the coming year.
A tradition that died out due to its depressing nature was the addition of thimbles or buttons to the pudding. This signaled that the finder would remain a spinster or bachelor forever, the loser slice if you will!
Traditional Irish Christmas plum pudding recipe
- 10 eggs
- 1 cup white flour
- 4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons allspice
- 2 teaspoons nutmeg
- 4 ounces chopped almond pieces
- 1 grated apple
- 1 pound light brown sugar
- 1 medium carrot, grated (this optional ingredient probably crept into the recipe during WWII when fruits were in short supply)
- Rind and juice of an orange and a lemon
- 3 pounds raisins, use some currants, some yellow, and some sultanas. The more variety in fruits, the better the pudding.
- 8 ounces candied cherries or natural dried cherries
- 24 ounces breadcrumbs
- 12 ounces candied peel (candied pineapple chunks, citron, mixed peel)
- 1 pint of Guinness
- 5 tablespoons of hard liquor
- 1 pound butter or finely minced suet if preferred
Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Rub the raisins and other fruits with the flour and spices. The flour adheres to the stickiness of the fruits and gives the pud a nice even texture.
Cut the butter into fine pieces and mix well with the dry ingredients.
In a separate bowl, mix the liquid ingredients. When the liquids have been well stirred, add them to the bowl with the dry ingredients. Mix all together very well.
The batter should be a bit loose, a little thicker than a cake mix. If it’s dry like bread dough, add more Guinness.
My mother would grease a big square of unbleached muslin and pour the pudding into this, tying off the top with string. In these modern times, heat-proof bowls are an acceptable substitute for the cloth bag method . and much easier.
Line the bowl with parchment paper fill to within an inch of the top of the bowl. Cover the batter with parchment paper and use a lid for steaming. Sealing the top of the bowl with foil will work if there is no self-lid for the bowl.
Fill the pot in which you are steaming the pudding to just below the top of the pudding bowl and gently boil for at least 12 hours. I use the slow cooker for this and it works very well. Depending on the size of the bowls used, you may get about three puddings from this recipe. I triple it and get at least a dozen quart-sized puddings. (Big family!)
When the pudding has cooled, remove it from the bowl, dribble brandy (or any other whiskey-type stuff) over the top of it, letting as much sink in as possible.
Seal the puddings in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil. (Don’t let the aluminum touch the pudding as there is a reaction that dulls the foil and I suspect this is not good for the pud or the people eating it.)
Let it sit for as long as possible before serving. Three or four months is not too long. Occasionally dribble the pudding with a shot of the spirit of your choice: brandy, whiskey, bourbon, etc.
Traditionally, the pudding was steamed again for an hour before serving. There are two possible methods: Remove the wrapping, return the pudding to the original bowl, and steam again for an hour.
Turn it out on a heat-proof serving plate and proceed to the lighting process that follows the brandy butter recipe or unwrap the pudding, place it on the serving platter, and microwave for 10 minutes at 50 percent power. The microwave method, though obviously not traditional, works exceptionally well, and has become traditional in my family!
Brandy Butter (Hard Sauce)
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup confectioner's sugar
- 1/2 cup brandy (or whiskey, Irish or otherwise)
Soften butter. Beat the butter with an electric mixer until it’s fluffy.
Slowly add an equal amount or more of confectioner’s sugar. You will see that the mixture changes in texture.
Slowly add the brandy after this textural change in the sugar/butter blend. Beat further until the mixture becomes light and fluffy.
Spoon the brandy butter into serving dishes and chill until firm. When turning the mixture into the serving dish, finish off the top by swirling it into a circular pattern with the bottom of the spoon for a decorative effect.
Garnish everything with holly in berry if you have it.
Lighting the plum pudding
To light the plum pudding, pour a generous cup of Christian Brothers Brandy (none other!) on top. There’ll be a little puddle on the plate. That should light pretty easily and the blue flames will creep up the sides.
Douse the lights in the dining room to bring in the pudding to the acclaim of all at the table. Don’t be disappointed if the flame is out quickly. That’s how it goes.
I have no idea or wish to know the carb count of this wonderful traditional food. Save one pudding for New Year’s Day dinner if you can. Leftover pudding is generally fried in a little butter in a cast-iron pan the next day. Microwaving works just fine too, but will not please any Luddites at the table.
Riding the favorite at Cheltenham, a jockey was well ahead of the field. Suddenly, he was hit on the head by a turkey and a string of sausages.
He managed to keep control of his mount and pulled back into the lead, only to be struck by a box of Christmas crackers and a dozen mince pies as he went over the last fence.
With great skill, he managed to steer the horse to the front of the field once more when, on the run-in, he was struck on the head by a bottle of sherry and a Christmas pudding.
Thus distracted, he succeeded in coming only second. He immediately went to the stewards to complain that he had been seriously hampered.
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* Originally published in 2011.
What are your favorite Christmas recipes? Let us know in the comments!
Plum Pudding Recipe
Plum pudding is a Christmas dessert staple on many tables, especially those whose roots are in the British Isles.
The classic plum pudding recipe calls for the pudding (or cake) to be steamed. It is served with a sauce flavored and scented with sherry or brandy.
This Christmas pudding is a version of Christmas fruit cake.
The steaming softens the cake and makes it beautifully warm. Served with the sweet sherry or brandy laced sauce, it is the perfect ending to a Christmas dinner.
The traditional plum pudding recipe calls for suet, or beef fat. This recipe substitutes vegetable shortening.
The purists may disagree, but I think this recipe is quite delicious.
You can even serve this recipe flaming (see the tips section below).
Served on a beautiful plate, flaming at the Christmas dinner table, this recipe makes a wonderful end to your Christmas dinner.
Plum dessert recipes
Showcase sweet, juicy plums in a range of comforting autumnal desserts. Choose from fruity plum puddings, crumbles, cobblers and more.
Ultimate plum & apple cobbler
Slide this pudding into the oven after the Sunday roast has come out. It's classic comfort food and the cobbler topping can be used on any stewed fruit
Use two types of sugar and ground almonds for the perfect crunchy crumble topping, layered on top of cinnamon-spiced plums
Cook a comforting autumn dessert using these gently spiced, poached plums. Or make them the star of the show simply served with cream, custard or ice cream
Easy English Plum Pudding Recipe
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup (250 ml) milk
- 12 dates, pitted and chopped
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) seedless white raisins
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) currants
- 1/4 cup mixed candied peel, chopped
- finely grated rind of 1 orange or lemon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted with 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons mixed spice cinnamon
- dash salt
- custrad, whipped cream
Grease well 1½-quart (1½ L) pudding mold and line the bottom with greased wax paper. Put the butter, sugar, and milk into a saucepan. Add the chopped dates, raisins, currants, peel, and chopped rind. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Remove from the heat, add the baking soda, and allow foaming. Sift in the flour, spice, and salt. Mix lightly until blended. Empty into the prepared bowl. Cover with the lid and steam 2 hours.
Ingredients and Equipment
This recipe has a few unique ingredients and some equipment you may not typically use in baking.
To make this properly, you&rsquoll need rendered suet. Suet is rendered fat, typically from cow or lamb, and it is widely available through both local butchers and grocery store meat departments &ndash just ask!
If you prefer a vegetarian alternative, substitute in an equivalent weight of vegetable shortening.
Tip: Steer clear of butter when making this recipe &ndash its lower melting point means that it is likely to melt before the recipe has fully set, resulting in a heavier, greasier dessert.
You&rsquoll also need 4 ounces of mashed potatoes they help give this recipe some bulk.
Though the traditional recipe requires that you boil the pudding in intestines, I recommend a muslin cloth as the modern alternative.
Christmas Plum Pudding
A Christmas plum pudding (also called figgy pudding) is divine—dark, moist, rich, and fruity. This steamed pudding recipe was adapted from Fannie Farmer’s “English Plum Pudding I” from the 1918 edition of her cookbook, the last one she wrote.
Rest assured: This recipe does not use suet like the old English Christmas puddings. The word “plum” in plum pudding was a generic term for any dried fruit—most commonly raisins and currants, with prunes and other dried, preserved or candied fruit added when available.
A pudding is “steamed” so it’s cooked on the stove, not in the oven. It takes time to make, but that rich flavor is worth the wait—and it makes the whole house smell like Christmas! Puddings are often made in pudding molds (like a bundt cake mold) but a special mold is not necessary. Puddings used to be cooked in cloth bags! If you don’t have a mold, we’d suggest a large stainless steel bowl. Even an aluminum can would do. You’ll also need a deep stockpot or an old Lobster pot, and some kitchen string.
This recipe is very flexible. In terms of the ingredients, if you don’t like (or don’t wish to buy) the citron or candied peel, you can always add more raisins or currents. And if you don’t want to include brandy, substitute with grape juice.
On the side, we’ve included a recipe for a foamy sauce. Traditionally, the Christmas pudding was dressed with warm brandy which was set alight. Due to safety/fire concerns, this is less common today. Plum pudding is usually served with either a hard sauce(usually brandy butter or rum butter), cream, ice cream, or custard. Your choice!
- 1 1/2 pounds (about 13 1/2 cups) fresh breadcrumbs
- 1 1/2 pounds finely chopped vegetable suet or beef suet
- 4 cups (1 qt.) whole milk
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground mace
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3 1/3 cups currants
- 2 cups (about 8 1/2 oz.) all-purpose flour
- 2 (15-oz.) pkg. raisins
- 1 cup chopped candied citron
- 1 cup chopped candied lemon peel
- 1 cup chopped candied orange peel
- 1 cup halved candied cherries
- Cooking spray
- Boiling water, as needed
- Hard Sauce
Stir together breadcrumbs, suet, milk, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, mace, and cloves in a 6-quart mixing bowl until well combined. Stir together currants, flour, raisins, citron, lemon peel, orange peel, and cherries in a separate large bowl until combined. Add currant mixture to breadcrumb mixture stir well to combine.
Spoon about 3 1/4 cups packed mixture into each of 5 lightly greased (with cooking spray) cleaned 1-pound coffee cans or pudding molds. Cover cans with a double thickness of aluminum foil secure foil with kitchen twine. (Alternatively, tightly cover molds with lids.)
Place cans on a shallow rack fitted inside a large, deep stockpot add enough boiling water to come halfway up cans. Cover stockpot steam puddings in continuously simmering water over medium-low heat until firm and cooked through, 3 to 4 hours, adding more boiling water as needed to maintain water level. Remove from heat. Transfer pudding in cans to a wire rack let cool 10 minutes, then turn upside down to unmold. Slice and serve warm with Hard Sauce.
To store puddings, wrap each unmolded pudding in plastic wrap. Store in refrigerator up to 5 days. To reheat, unwrap and microwave on HIGH until warmed, 20 to 30 seconds.
What is in a plum pudding?
Most plum puddings contain quite a few ingredients--but most of them you probably already have in your fridge or pantry.
- Golden raisins (sultanas)
- Dried apricots
- Golden Delicious apple (this adds a fresh fruit component for extra flavor)
- Orange juice
- Brandy (this helps preserve it and adds additional flavor)
- Unsalted butter (traditionally, suet was used instead of butter)
- Brown sugar
- Molasses (adds additional richness and color)
- Orange zest
- All-purpose flour
- Breadcrumbs (they were originally used as a filler, but they also lighten the texture)
- Baking powder (many traditional recipes didn't include baking powder)
- Mixed spice (make this British spice blend in a minute!)
- Blanched almonds
Why is it called a plum pudding?
Long ago, any dried fruit mixture was called "plum." Nowadays, many people like to actually add dried plums (prunes) to this dessert to justify the name.
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