How to make plum pudding:
First go to the store and beg the butcher for a lump of food grade suet. Grind it up. Soak raisins and candied fruit in dark ale. Mix together brown sugar and eggs until they are frothy. Sift flour and spices and baking soda–cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg. Mix it all together and pour into a pudding mold–or a coffee can if you can’t find a mold–and steam for many hours.
Prepare a month before Christmas so you can soak it every few days in brandy. Resteam it for a few hours before Christmas dinner. Serve flaming, with buttery/brandied hard sauce.
My sister taught me to make this concoction using a recipe she clipped from the Cincinnati Enquirer. Her English husband claimed it was as good a plum pudding as anything his mother ever made and for many years it was a highlight of our family’s Christmas dinner.
After my sister and her husband moved back to England, I took over the plum pudding duties, working from an ale and batter stained recipe card. I chopped and soaked and stirred and steamed and proudly served the flaming result to our ever dwindling family gathered around the Christmas table. A rich, dark, spicy link to her, serving the same pudding to her English family.
But then my parents died and cousins moved away and I stayed in New England for Christmas with friends. Suet rich plum pudding didn’t really fit most of my friends’ food preferences. For many years the recipe card sat in the card file and the pudding molds sat on the shelf, sad and unused.
But a few years ago, my sister and I spent Christmas with relatives on the west coast and I brought a plum pudding, which was such a hit that I left a copy of the recipe and an empty pudding mold behind. I made it again last year to share with friends and my sister, who was once again visiting. I am looking forward to digging into the rich fruity goodness again this year, happy to see this tradition revived and pudding molds out of the cupboard.