One of the best things about writing this column is the great feedback I get from readers who send me their own recipes. Sometimes they even send me old cookbooks that they think I might be interested in and I’m slowly amassing a gorgeous library of old notebooks with handwritten recipes passed down from generation to generation. This recipe for plum duff, otherwise known as Christmas pudding, was sent to me by Jillian Hanlon, who says it is a real favourite with her family. Many families have their own recipe for plum duff and pass it down for everyone to enjoy through the generations. Interestingly, plum pudding doesn’t generally contain plums. The tradition of Christmas pudding dates back to medieval England when the Catholic Church decreed that, “Pudding should be made on the 25th Sunday after Trinity, that it be prepared with 13 ingredients to represent Christ and the 12 apostles.” Every family member was to stir it in turn from east to west to honour the Magi (wise men and kings) and their supposed journey in that direction. There is no reason why you can’t enjoy this all year round served as a dessert with lashings of custard. Jillian does hers in the traditional way by cooking it in a pudding cloth but you can also do it in a pudding basin, which is how I cooked it. It made a wonderful mid-winter dessert for my dinner guests.
|2 cups||Flour (Main)|
|1 cup||Brown sugar|
|1 cup||White breadcrumbs, pressed down firmly (Main)|
|1 tsp||Mixed spice (Main)|
|1 ½ cups||Sultanas, and currants|
|2 Tbsp||Golden syrup|
|125 g||Butter, melted|
|½ cup||Milk, to mix|
|1 tsp||Baking soda|
|2 tsp||Baking powder|
|1||Lemon essence, or the rind of a lemon grated|
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- Mix all dry ingredients except baking soda and make a well in the middle. Add golden syrup and melted butter. Dissolve baking soda in milk, add lemon rind or essence and mix together.
- Scald a pudding cloth and flour generously. To do this you will need a piece of calico or a cotton tea towel at least 65cm in diameter. Scald the cloth in boiling water then wring out and lay cloth out on a flat surface. Sprinkle both sides lightly with flour. Place the cloth over a large bowl and push it into the bowl from the centre to form a lining. Or you can use a greased pudding basin.
- Add mixture, then tie up the cloth but not too tightly. Have a pot of water boiling and place a plate, such as a saucer, upended in the bottom to keep the pudding off the base of the pot and add the pudding.
- Boil for 3 hours. The flour on the cloth should give pudding a lovely thick skin. This plum duff is delicious with custard or cream and we always like to eat it cold as well.