Traditional Christmas plum pudding recipe
Sometimes it's called Plum Pudding, but Plum Pudding has neither plums nor is it the type of food generally thought of as a pudding, at least not by Jello! Plum Pudding is the essence of Christmas in Ireland and no one can ever make it like one's own dear mother, but here's a recipe that's a little bit Clare and a little bit Donegal with some Dublin thrown in for good measure.
There are many traditions and superstitions surrounding the Christmas Pudding. Some traditions say to make the pudding by the 25th Sunday after Trinity, with 13 ingredients to represent Christ and His Disciples. Every member of the family is to take a turn stirring the pudding with a wooden spoon from east to west, in honor of the three kings. It is said that setting the brandy aflame represents Christ’s passion. A sprig of holly as garnish is a reminder if His ‘Crown of Thorns.’ Holly supposedly brought good luck and had special healing powers. It was often planted near houses in the belief that it protected the inhabitants.
Some families add coins to the pudding for luck. Everyone then stirs the pudding and makes a wish. Those who get the coins in their serving get wealth, health, happiness, and their wish will come true. Some people even add gold rings to the mix to indicate the finder will get married in the coming year. A tradition that died out due to its depressing nature was the addition of thimbles or buttons to the pudding. This signaled that the finder would remain a spinster or bachelor forever, the loser slice if you will!
1 cup white flour
4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons allspice
2 teaspoons nutmeg
4 ounces chopped almond pieces
1 grated apple
1 pound light brown sugar
1 medium carrot, grated (this optional ingredient probably crept into the recipe during WWII when fruits was in short supply)
Rind and juice of an orange and a lemon
3 pounds raisins use some currants, some yellow, and some sultanas. The more variety in fruits, the better the pudding.
8 ounces candied cherries or natural dried cherries
24 ounces bread crumbs
12 ounces candied peel (candied pineapple chunks, citron, mixed peel)
1 pint of Guinness
5 tablespoons of hard liquor
1 pound butter or finely minced suet if preferred
Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Rub the raisins and other fruits with the flour and spices. The flour adheres to the stickiness of the fruits and gives the pud a nice even texture.
Cut the butter into fine pieces and mix well with the dry ingredients.
In a separate bowl mix the liquid ingredients. When the liquids have been well stirred, add them to the bowl with the dry ingredients. Mix all together very well.
The batter should be a bit loose, a little thicker than a cake mix. If it’s dry like bread dough, add more Guinness.
My mother would grease a big square of unbleached muslin and pour the pudding into this, tying off the top with string. In these modern times, heat-proof bowls are an acceptable substitute for the cloth bag method...and much easier.
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