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The Sugartree Inn
We celebrate the Christmas holidays with our guests by serving a suet or plum pudding based on a recipe that began with Kathy's great-grandmother.
We had always assumed the recipe had French Canadian origins like her mother's family, but on a recent trip to England discovered this pudding, as the British call their desserts, had its origin there. An old Yorkshire tradition: "In as many homes as you eat plum pudding in the 12 days following Christmas, so many happy months will you have during the year."
Kathy has found recipes dating back to colonial times, one which takes up to 3 days to prepare!
This recipe has undoubtedly evolved over the years. We use candied fruit instead of dried plums or prunes. There is, however, suet, beef fat which can be obtained from a butcher. The fat melts during cooking and moistens the pudding.
Rather than a pudding, this is a steamed dessert with a dense cake-like texture. Although great-grandmother served it without an accompaniment, Mother and I serve it with a hard sauce (a recipe found in Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book, 1st edition 1950), another family heirloom.
In a bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix in candied fruits. In separate bowl, beat wet ingredients until well mixed. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and mix with a fork until moistened.
Pour into a well greased 2-quart mold. Steam for 3 hours. Cool for 15 minutes then remove. Serve with hard sauce.
Steaming the Pudding: I improvised. I took a large kettle and put my vegetable steamer on the bottom. The mold should not sit in the bottom of the pan. I placed the mold in the steamer, then added water approximately halfway up the mold and covered the pan. I set the kettle on top of the stove on a medium setting. Periodically check the water level. I used a mold which had its own cover on a hinge. Should you use a mold without a cover, wrap the top with aluminum foil to prevent the pudding from becoming watery.
Cream the butter in a mixer or food processor, blend in sugar and vanilla. Serve over the warm pudding.
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