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Plum Pudding

Photo J. McHugh


This recipe was originally from Bon Appetite.  I've been making it every year for the last 20 years and it appears to be indestructible.   It also will keep in the freezer for over a year with no problems.  This recipe is also a hit with fruitcake haters because it's so moist.

1 1/2 cups dark raisins
1 1/2 cups brandy
3 sticks room temp butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups chopped dates (14 oz)
2 1/4 cups grated carrots
2 1/4 cups finely pecans
1 1/2 cups dried bread crumbs 
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups currants
Finely grated peel of 1/2 lemon and 1/2 orange
3/4 tsp ground cloves and ginger
3/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/3 tsp mace

Plumb raisins in brandy for several hours or overnight.  (Do not cheat on this step no matter what.  When the raisins have absorbed most of the brandy you can begin making the pudding).  Heavily grease a plum pudding mold ( Williams and Sonoma has always carried them.  If they're not in the mall next to you they mail order. Their web page is pathetic but it will give you contact information  Fill the tea kettle full now because you'll need the boiling water in a few minutes.

Chop the date in the food processor.  Cream butter and sugar together in a LARGE bowl.  (If you don't have a pastry blender get one.  They're very inexpensive and over the last 20 years I admit it's saved me waiting when I realized I forgot to get the butter out). Blend in flour, baking soda and salt.  Stir in raisins and any remaining brandy, add all other ingredients including at least one silver charm.   Spoon batter into prepared mold.

Place small round rack in the bottom of a large pot (8 to 10 qts) and add boiling water from the kettle until it reaches half way up the mold.  cover the pot and steam the pudding on top of the stove for about 5 hours.  Refill the tea kettle and keep it hot since you'll need to periodically add boiling water to the pot so that the water level remains constant. 

Remove the mold from the water and uncover.  Allow to cool for about 30 minutes.   Carefully loosen the edges of the pudding with a sharp knife.  You should only have to do this with the top of the pudding.  Don't stick the knife down the sides.   Turn the pudding out on a plate and allow to cool completely.  Wrap the pudding in foil and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

Before serving warm pudding by resteaming for an hour or by heating in the microwave for 5 or 6 minutes.  Heat brandy briefly, ignite and pour over pudding so that you're carrying a flaming pudding to the table.


Plum pudding is traditionally served with a hard sauce but I've never found any one who can tolerate it.  Rum raisin ice cream is a wonderful accompaniment or a rich French vanilla

Alternate sauce recipes


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1 cup dried currants
1 cup dried golden raisins
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup grated beef suet (partially freeze before grating) (other uses for suet)
2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1 cup finely chopped almonds, walnuts or pecans
2/3 cup candied mixed peel
1 large tart apple, peeled and finely chopped
2 cups unbleached flour
Finely grated peel of 1/2 lemon and 1/2 orange
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup milk
4 eggs, beaten
Pinch each ground cloves and ginger
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch salt

(I use a food processor for chopping and grating bread, nuts, peel, suet)

Mix all ingredients except brandy in a large bowl with 2 Tbsp. brandy. Pour the mixture into a greased 2-1/4 qt. heat-proof pudding mold, and cover with greased lid..

Place a trivet in the bottom of a large saucepan, pressure cooker, or stockpot. Place pudding in pan and add water to come 2/3 of the way up the side of the mold. Cover and cook in simmering water for about 6 hrs. Pour in more boiling water if necessary.

When the pudding is done and has cooled, pour about 3-4 Tbsp brandy over it and re-cover. (I remove mine from the mold and pour brandy over it and wrap with saran wrap and then foil.) Store in refrigerator AT LEAST 4 WEEKS and up to 8 weeks.

Reheat in original cooking mold or bowl by steaming as above for 1-2 hrs. (For single serving, heat slice in microwave with sauce.) Decorate with a sprig of holly, and flambé at the table with additional brandy. Serve with sauce.

WHISKEY SAUCE: In saucepan, mix together 1 beaten egg yolk, 1 small can Pet milk, 1 cup sugar, and 3/4 stick margarine or butter. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Remove from heat. Let cool 20 minutes and add 1-2 jiggers of bourbon or brandy. Can be used immediately or can be refrigerated for 1 week.

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Eating Well's Low Fat Plum Pudding

I'm willing to try this out of curiosity
but I'm not sure I could ever serve it to company


Coat a 2-qt. pudding mold,  with nonstick cooking spray.  Sift flour, cinnamon, cloves, salt and baking soda together into a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together milk, molasses, prune puree, brandy and oil. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, add the milk mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined. Add raisins, currants, orange rind and lemon zest. Spoon the batter into the prepared mold or dish. Cover with a circle of wax or parchment paper. Cover again with an oiled lid Place the mold on a rack or a trivet in a large pot. Add boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the mold. Cover the pot and steam the pudding in simmering water for 3 hours, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. (Add more water as needed.) Run a knife around the edge of the dish and unmold the pudding immediately. Brush top and sides with Grand Marnier.

Serve warm.

457 Calories per serving:
8 G Protein
4.0 G Fat
94 G Carbohydrate
425 MG Sodium
1 MG Cholesterol

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A Traditional Aussie Plum Pudding
from the deepest reaches of the Outback

In the Australian bush in the 19th century people had to improvise.
The Billy Can is a tin, with handles, usually used to carry water.

250 g rice
Sweetened water
125 g raisins or sultanas
A handful of nuts

Put rice in saucepan of boiling, sweetened water and simmer until no water is left. Add remaining ingredients. Sweeten to taste.