Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Pudding

“In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit entered – flushed, but smiling proudly – with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.

Oh, a wonderful pudding! Bob Cratchit said, and calmly too, that he regarded it as the greatest success achieved by Mrs. Cratchit since their marriage. Mrs. Cratchit said that now the weight was off her mind, she would confess she had had her doubts about the quantity of flour. Everybody had something to say about it, but nobody said or thought it was at all a small pudding for a large family. It would have been flat heresy to do so. Any Cratchit would have blushed to hint at such a thing.”
Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol

Christmas puddings of the Cratchit’s time often took weeks to prepare. For those of us out of time or kitchen-challenged,  I found a more modern version of Plum Pudding with Brandy Butter Sauce that could be served as a grand finale to your Christmas meal. 

Plum Pudding with Brandy Butter Sauce
(from Christmas Cheer: Recipes and Party Ideas Anne Van Wagner Child, ed. 1993)
1 pound pitted prunes, chopped
1 cup brandy
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground mace
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 cup molasses
½ teaspoon dried grated lemon peel
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup chopped alnuts

2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons brandy
    Ground nutmeg to garnish

For plum pudding, combine prunes and brandy in a medium bowl.  Cover and let stand 8 hours or overnight.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and mace.  In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs, molasses, and lemon peel; beat until smooth.  Beat dry ingredients and buttermilk alternately into creamed mixture.  Stir in walnuts and prunes (including brandy).  Pour batter into a greased and floured 9-inch springform pan.  Bake 1 hour 30 minutes, cover with aluminum foil, and bake about 15 minutes longer or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan 10 minutes; remove sides of pan.
For sauce, combine sugar, butter, cream, and vanilla in a medium saucepan.  Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil.  Stirring constantly, cook 3 minutes or until thickened.  Remove from heat; stir in brandy.  Garnish with nutmeg.  Cut pudding into wedges and serve with warm sauce.  Yield: about 18 servings.

May your Christmas dinner be shared with close family, friends, and good food,
just like the Cratchits.  Merry Christmas.

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