Alison Holst's Plum Pudding

1:34 am on 6 December 2005

The word ‘Christmas’ is not included in the name of this pudding because we feel that you may want to make this plum pudding several times each year, as well as at Christmas! The recipes was dreamed up for our ‘Slow Cooker Book’, as we all enjoyed the first pudding so much that we made several, using different liquids. All of these reheated well, to be served as pudding, but most of them were sliced and eaten cold, like Christmas Cake. As a matter of interest, the mixture contains much less butter and sugar, and fewer eggs than normal Christmas cakes. (The pudding may not keep as well for this reason, but we have never been able to keep them long enough to know!)

Ingredients

  • 500-600gms dried and /or crystallised fruit *
  • ¼ C sherry, rum, stout or orange juice
  • 2 C bread flour or plain flour
  • ½ C (packed) brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ - 1 tsp mixed spice
  • ½ - 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 125gms butter, melted
  • finely grated rind of 1 large orange
  • 1 large egg
  • extra liquid if necessary

Method

Select a heatproof bowl (or loaf tin) which will hold 4 – 5 cups and will fit in your slow cooker. Coat the dry bowl with non-stick spray, then line with microwave-proof cling film.

*Use whatever dried and /or crystallised fruit you like. For special occasions we use ¼ - ½ cup of prunes (which are dried purple plums), crystallised pineapple and ginger, dried cranberries, raisins, currants and apricots. If preferred, use prunes, raisins, sultanas and currants etc. (For our recent puddings I have used 300gms of ‘Fruit Nuggets’ and about ¼ cp ‘Razz Cherries’ (bought from bulk foods departments) and 300gms of the dried and crystallised fruits listed above).

You can prepare the fruit a short time before you need it, or do it ahead and refrigerate it up to a week. Using kitchen scissors, chop all the fruit into pieces no bigger than dried cranberries and put them in a heavy plastic bag. Add the liquid/s of your choice to the bag, (grating all the rind from the orange first, if juicing it), then close the bag, leaving a small air hole, and microwave everything for about 5 minutes, until all the fruit is hot, plump and shiny. The liquid will soak into the fruit as it cools. Turn the bag over occasionally during this time. Cool the bag of mixture to room temperature before using it.

Turn a 2 litre or larger slow cooker on to HIGH with 1-2 cups of hot water in it.

Mix together the next six (dry) ingredients in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a small bowl, then add the grated orange rind. Beat in the eggs with a fork, then tip it into the flour mixture, stirring until no dry flour remains. Add the cool soaked fruit and mix everything gently but thoroughly. The mixture should be wet enough to drop from your spoon. If it isn’t, add more liquid, using a little of several liquids rather than just one. (Refrigerated marinated fruit may require up to ¾ cup of extra liquid)

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pudding bowl, levelling the top. Cover with foil, fold the edges down over the bowl. Lower the pudding bowl into the slow cooker bowl and put on the lid. Cook on HIGH for 8 –12 hours. Turn out while warm since puddings less likely to stick to the container at this stage, then wrap and cool completely.

Serve with brandy butter, custard or whipped cream, (plain or with liqueur or spirits and sugar added) or refrigerate (for six weeks or so), or freeze. Thaw before reheating, still in the film, in the sprayed, covered bowl. Reheat in the slow cooker set to HIGH, with water around the bowl, for 4 – 5 hours, or on LOW for twice this time.

VARIATION: If preferred, cook the pudding in a bowl or loaf tin of similar capacity, or in several smaller containers like cups, each covered with foil, in a covered pot (or covered pots) containing enough simmering water to reach about half way up the sides of the containers, for 4 –5 hours depending on their size. Stand each bowl on a rack, preserving jar ring, or crumpled foil during cooking, and check at intervals to make sure that pot does not boil dry.

NOTES: With longer cooking, in a slow cooker or pot, the pudding darkens, and the flavour improves. The puddings are actually cooked through in a shorter time than is suggested here. If you have a choice, and are making the pudding a short time before it is to be eaten, I think the flavour of the slow cooked pudding is better.

Whatever you do, don’t leave out the orange rind. If you have an inefficient grater, (microplane type grater) use the rind of two oranges for best flavour.

Suggested Wines to Go With Today's Recipe

CHAMPAGNE

Under $20

Lindauer

Twin Islands

Sea View Pinot Noir Chardonnay Brut

Seaview Blanc de Blanc

$21 -- $40

Huia Marlborough Brut

Deutz Marlborough Cuvee

Number 8 Cuvee and Number 1 Cuvee

Cloudy Bay Pelorus

Fallen Angel Marlborough

$41 -- $69

Pol Roger Brut Reserve NV

Veuve Clicquot

Moet and Chandon

Tattinger Brut Reserve

"Who cares -- to hell with the expense"

Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill

Dom Perignon

Krug Grande Cuvee

Laurent Perrier Cuvee Rose Brut

From Nine To Noon

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