Nothing expresses the Yuletide season in jolly old England like a traditional plum pudding! Because they are steamed, plum puddings are meltingly moist and flavorful, dark, rich, and spicy. This fragrant version calls for a little Guinness stout as well as the traditional plump fruits and healthful nuts.
Plum Pudding isnít hard to make (although it looks like it should be: the first time she made one, Caitís family raved about the flavor and the moistness, and she couldnít believe how easy it was to do!) This is the dessert immortalized by Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol; when you serve it with a flourish, you and your family will share one of the great pleasures of a Dickensian Yuletide.
2 cups raisins
1 cup prunes, chopped
3/4 cup currants
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 cup Guinness stout
1 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup mixed candied citrus peel
1/4 cup finely chopped almonds
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 cup fine, dry bread crumbs
8 tablespoons butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Pinch of sea salt
1. In a ceramic bowl, combine the raisins, prunes, currants, golden raisins, and Guinness and allow the mixture to steep, covered, overnight.
2. Next morning, place the Guinness-fruit mixture in a large bowl and combine with the flour, brown sugar, citrus peel, chopped almonds, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice.
3. In a smaller bowl, combine the bread crumbs, butter, eggs, and sea salt. Add this mixture to the ingredients in the large bowl and mix well.
4. Generously butter a 1 1/2 quart pudding mold or a heat-proof bowl. Spoon the batter into the mold and cover with a lid or with buttered parchment or aluminum foil tied onto the bowl with string.
5. Place a rack in a deep soup pot with enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the mod when itís set on the rack. Bring water to a boil then reduce heat and steam pudding for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Allow it to cool until just warm, then unmold.
6. Serve decorated with sifted confectionerís sugar and a sprig of holly, or with a splash of warm brandy (light it for a fabulous flaming effect!), or with hard sauce, or surrounded by greens with a lit candle on top.
And have a Merry Yuletide!
Inspired by Witch in the Kitchen, by Cait Johnson (Inner Traditions, 2001).