BVC Cooks: UK vs US
Plum Pudding—but it has no plums.
For special holidays my mother used to make her English grandmother’s recipe for plum pudding. Who knows how old this dish was, or even this formula for it. But it comes from a time when central heating was not the norm and people didn’t bother counting calories or carbs because they burned them all of trying to stay warm. My sister got the notebook with all of Mom’s and Nana’s recipes in it. Since I have never made it, I don’t want it.
I remember the biggest bowl in the house, some flour, suet, molasses, raisins and buckets of dried fruit. And brandy. A cup or more of the good stuff. Probably a dozen eggs as well, but I don’t know for sure. When it was all mixed well it got stuffed and packed and pounded into a 3lb coffee can, covered with cheesecloth that she tied in place with a string—my sailor father was big on string and depended upon it like we do duck tape. Then Mom boiled the can for 3 hours, at least. It kept in the fridge for a month or more so it didn’t matter if it was overcooked.
While the pudding was boiling, Mom would make the hard sauce, cut together equal parts butter and powdered sugar and some rum extract—or the real thing but you need to add more butter to compensate for the extra liquid. Then she’d compress it into long rolls, wrap them in wax paper and put in the fridge. Just before serving she’d make up a heated lemon sauce, butter, sugar, more rum, cornstarch and water, and a hint of lemon juice.
At serving time we each got about 2 tlbs full of the pudding in a bowl—that is more than enough to fill you full unless you are a teenager who spent 3 hours a day, 4 days a week in the ballet studio—then a dribble of the lemon sauce and two slices of the hard sauce. No room for pumpkin pie after that.
Several years ago my big brother fixed Christmas dinner for the family. He bought a tin of plum pudding in London and heated it up while he made hard sauce and lemon sauce. I couldn’t taste the difference and there were very few left overs to nuke anything resembling a diet with a lot less work.