A Steamed Pudding is a mixture that you put into a bowl, and steam in a water bath. In many very early receipts you find them, both savory and sweet. By the 17th Century, meat was eliminated from the recipe in favor of more sweets and it was sprinkled with brandy, then set aflame when served to guests.
The most famous steamed pudding we think about this time of year is the Christmas — or Plum — Puddings, made dense by all the fruit and nuts in them. This is not your fruitcake type food. Many of the same components, yet so much better.
Definition of “plum” in the Oxford English Dictionary
A dried grape or raisin as used for puddings, cakes, etc. This use probably arose from the substitution of raisins for dried plums or prunes as an ingredient in plum-broth, porridge, etc., with retention of the name ‘plum’ for the substituted article.” The OED then goes on to list occurrences of this use in literature. Samuel Johnson defined a “plum” as “raisin; grape dried in the sun.”
The Puritans banned plum pudding during the second half of the 17th Century as an unfit custom for those who followed the ways of God because of its use of alcohol. However, by 1714, King George I brought back plum pudding as part of the traditional Christmas feast despite the strong objections. The name Christmas pudding is first recorded in 1858 in a novel by Anthony Trollope.
Almost every year I make Plum Pudding in November and have it sit in the refrigerator for a month to infuse all the flavors I have added. Come Christmas Day, it is served with a hot lemon sauce.
To get into the spirit of things I draped my tin chandler with a fake garland, no bugs in my pudding, thank you, and I put on some Christmas music. Then I put out what I need, chopped bread as my base for the pudding, to which I will add all the other ingredients.
I love to fill the pudding with candy citron, lemon and orange peels, raisin of the sun, dates, orange preserves and many spices.
I mixed the fruit together and added it to the bread. Then white sugars was added, along with cinnamon, mace, cardamom, ginger and nutmeg.
The pudding is basically a bread pudding held together with eggs. I stirred the bread mixture well before incorporating the whisked eggs.
The grated lemon and orange peels, with some juice of both, were added to the preserves. Two sticks of melted butter were added to the bowl.
In went the juice, preserves and peels along with a 1/2 cup rum mixed with some orange flower water.
The pudding was mixed well to make sure all the bread cubes were well covered with fruit and that it was soaked with the liquid.
I could only find one of my molds and so I decided I would use a vintage angel food pan also. I traced and cut out some parchment paper and greased the pans. The pudding was lightly packed into the forms.
The parchment paper was placed on top and the molds covered. These I put on steamer baskets and placed them on the stove. I poured water one third of the way up the sides of the molds. My steamer baskets were too high so I ended up using ring molds on the bottom and that worked very well.
I steamed the puddings for six hours then let them rest and cool before storing them in the refrigerator. Now the wait, a month has passed and Christmas Day is upon us. I will need to make my lemon sauce and then re-steam the pudding for two hour to warm it up. Then it will be served; I may even make some whipped cream. After all, there are no calories in Christmas food.
A receipt for the wonderful Pudding is posted in the receipt file. It is from The Art of Cookery, by Hanna Glass.