Sunday, 15 December 2013

Plum pudding

I'm typing this from a very steamy and bubbly kitchen.
My first ever attempts at plum pudding are on the stove behind me, two hours into their gestation, one is a pudding in a muslin, suspended in a pot of boiling water, the other is an earthenware pudding bowl steaming in a closed saucepan.

I hate plum pudding / Christmas pudding, whatever you want to call it. I find it sickly dense, unfamiliar, and full of those disgusting toenail clippings, I mean candied peel. But this year my 5 year old has been pointing out plum puddings in books, you know, these ones:

And I've always wondered at their spherical nature, and we're housebound at the moment due to a nasty bug, so what else is an over-achieving mama to do only make the damn thing.

I jest, it's been actually quite fun.
We started last night with the fruit. The only dried fruit in the house was a jar of prunes, so we used fresh fruit for the rest. I've been eyeing up a bowlful of hard pears for the last week, so they finally got their calling.

So into the slow cooker went the resulting mess, I mean fruit:

Yum, right?
There were about 6 small pears, 1 eating apple, maybe 16 prunes, cardamom pods, peel of a mandarin (kid had to eat it when he saw it), a good amount of dessicated coconut as I was making this as gluten-free as possible, a LOT of port, maybe too much. Also lots of spices and honey. I cooked it on high for a few hours last night and left it until this morning, as you can see the prunes plumped up.

Last night we (me and the 5 year old) ground a lot of almonds too, as they were going to provide bulk instead of flour.

I googled and found this intriguing recipe, from 1827. I love that the quantities are approximate, and I figure this is as authentic as you're going to get. (But then I go and make substitutions anyway, but you know what I mean.) I hate nothing more than those stingy perfectionist recipes that have you levelling off the teaspoon of cinnamon. Scabby I tells ya.

Also, it was a great time to drink my first port of the season. 

Here's the scintillating process of draining the fruit from its marinade. I thought you'd be delighted to see it. I was left with about 400mls (told you there was a lot of port) of liquid, which I mean to keep and maybe use for cranberry sauce, or something. 
I was left with this:

Mmm. Pretty.
Yes, a lovely sunny morning, do you think I got near the outdoors?
So it turned out I had 900g of fruit, so I made double the recipe, in two separate bowls. Some of the substitutions I made were: mostly ground almonds in place of flour. Coconut palm sugar in place of brown sugar. No candied peel. Melted butter in place of shredded suet. 2 eggs (large though) instead of 3. No milk. Basically a whole different recipe. I just plonked and mixed, figuring a Victorian maiden wouldn't have been bothered with a method, not with the pigs to feed and the fire to stoke.

So one lot got put in a floured muslin, tied with a brown shoelace (new) which is happily seeping its colour into the muslin as it boils. Yum! That one will be my spherical beauty, and is boiling away nigh on three hours now. As you can see I've held it down with another pan, as it keeps trying to escape.

The other ye olde pudding is in a (slightly cracked, let's see how that turns out) pudding bowl, covered with 2 layers of greaseproof paper (ran outta foil) and is steaming in a closed saucepan. Well, it was closed until the pudding rose and has lifted the lid, but whatever.

I'm so excited to see how these turn out. We have to go searching for some holly to put on top, and I'll be frantically googling "what is that white stuff poured on top of plum puddings?" Because I want this:

Except not with the freaky body. Actually that's an awful picture. But is the white custard? 

I'll update on this tomorrow, so keep yizzer peepers peeled!
Nee x

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