No more basins and lids for me. Making a traditional festive pudding using a cloth is the way to go.
Real plum pudding
|375 g||Dried currants|
|125 g||Raisins, small|
|150 g||Mixed peel, finely chopped|
|70 g||Blanched almonds, finely chopped|
|125 g||Breadcrumbs, fresh|
|1 tsp||Baking powder|
|125 g||Standard flour|
|2 pinches||Allspice, or cloves|
|125 g||Butter, softened|
|5||Eggs, at room temperature|
|125 g||Soft brown sugar|
Real plum pudding
- Half fill a stockpot with water and bring to the boil. Place a saucer or heatproof mat in the bottom of the pot.
- Keep the water simmering while you mix up the pudding. Mix together in a bowl all the fruit, almonds and breadcrumbs.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and spices together into another container. Add 2 tablespoons of this mixture to the fruit and breadcrumbs and mix in.
- In a separate large bowl cream the butter and brown sugar and beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the remaining dry ingredients to make a batter.
- Stir in the prepared fruit and breadcrumbs and the brandy. Take the pudding cloth as described above and place it in the pot of boiling water for 2 minutes.
- Use tongs to lift it out and let excess water drip off. Lay the cloth on a bench and sieve about a quarter of a cup of flour over most of the cloth, leaving an outer rim un-floured.
- Give the cloth a toss to spread the flour evenly over it, then lay it flat and scoop the pudding mixture into the middle.
- Gather up the sides and, leaving a little room for the pudding to expand, tie firmly with a piece of strong string.
- Use your hands to pat the pudding into a ball and lower it into the boiling water.
- The water should come three-quarters of the way up the pudding, so adjust if needed. For a more spherical pudding, tie it to a wooden spoon, which is placed across the top of the pot.
- Bring back to the boil, then lower the heat to maintain the water at a rolling simmer, partly cover with a lid and continue to simmer for 5 hours.
- Check frequently to ensure that the water continues at a rolling simmer, adding a little more hot water if needed to keep it at least halfway up the pudding.
- When the pudding is cooked, set out on the bench a large pot of cold water and a bowl the right size to hold the pudding.
- Lift the pudding out of the boiling water and dunk it for one second only into the cold water then transfer to the bowl.
- Cut the string and carefully ease the cloth back from the pudding and over the edge of the bowl. Now, take a heatproof plate, lay it over the pudding, then turn the whole thing upside down.
- Lift off the bowl and peel the cloth away from the pudding, which will appear pale, damp and rather unattractive.
- Don't despair. Allow the pudding to dry for a few minutes, then place in a preheated 100C oven for about 15 minutes until the surface is golden brown and glossy.
- If not served immediately, cool and store in the refrigerator. To reheat the pudding, wrap in foil and put in a 100C oven for about an hour.
- Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves.
- Then boil until the syrup is reduced by about half. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl with an electric beater until thick and creamy.
- Gradually beat in the hot syrup. Beat until thick and creamy, then stir in the cream. Refrigerate covered for up to 2 days before serving.