Jo Anne Q
My Aunt Anna Hennessy, made this every year for our Christmas dinner dessert. Like many first-generation San Francisco-born Irish, she was overly-proud of her heritage. It remains a mystery why she never figured out her crowning-glory recipe originated in England.
Prerequisites – To attack this recipe with all-due enthusiasm you must be one of the following:
1. A Christmas-aholic, or
2. A masochist, or
3. Someone who is constantly being told, “Get a life!!”
Caveat #1: Please do NOT feed the pudding to members of AA, kids under legal drinking age or family pets. (Sorry, Cybil…)
Caveat #2: Have the pudding prepared and ready to steam no later than Nov. 24th. (When you read the recipe, you’ll see why…)
You will also need an honest-to-god 2 qt. plum pudding mold with tight fitting lid which has a handle. Hard to come by these days – maybe try Williams-Sonoma?
- 1 & 1/2 C raisins
- 1 & 1/2 C currants
- 1/2 C chopped walnuts
- 1 tsp. grated lemon peel
- 1 & 1/4 C sifted flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 to 1 & 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 to 1 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/2 to 1 tsp. allspice
- 1/2 to 1 tsp. nutmeg
- (use your own judgment, depending on how much you like these spices)
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 C granulated sugar
- 1/4 C (2 oz.) grated suet
- 1 C light molasses
- 1 C buttermilk
- 1/4 – 1/2 C brandy or whiskey (It goes without saying The Aunt only used Hennessy 4-Star Whiskey)
- 1 & 1/4 C plain bread crumbs
Generously grease 2 qt. mold. (The Aunt used Crisco…you suit yourself.) Combine fruit, nuts, lemon peel and 1/2 C flour. Separately sift remaining flour with baking soda, salt and spices.
Beat eggs in small bowl. Add to fruit/flour mix. Combine sugar, suet, molasses, buttermilk, brandy (or whiskey) and bread crumbs in a separate bowl. Add flour/baking soda, etc. Toss in fruit/flour/egg mix. Combine all with great vigor. (No…not with VICTOR…with VIGOR!!)
Turn mixture into the greased mold and cover with lid. Place on a trivet in a large kettle. Pour boiling water halfway up the side of the mold. Cover kettle and steam over med-low heat for 2 hours. As Harry Potter’s professor, Mad-Eye Moody, was wont to say, “Constant vigilance” is required. Check kettle frequently and replace water as necessary. (If you are easily distracted, pull up a chair next to the stove and read a book about Irish traitors, between water replacement times.)
Remove from kettle, uncover and cool for 10-20 minutes. Carefully remove pudding from mold, place on a cake rack and cool completely. (If you fail, and the plum pudding falls apart – do not despair – don rubber gloves to protect your hands, and firmly re-mold it into a nice ball before it cools. The Aunt learned this art of compromise on the rare occasion the Very British pudding refused to cooperate with its Very Irish cook.)
Wrap in foil, which is the high-tech version of old-time cheesecloth layers, and refrigerate for a month. (The fridge being the high-tech version of the old-time packed-earth cellar or outside cold-spring shed.)
During this time, uncover pudding periodically, pierce in various places with a dinner fork, and liberally brush it (use a pastry brush) with brandy or whiskey. (If need be, re-station yourself in front of the fridge, with above-referenced chair, Irish traitor tome, and also a large bottle of whiskey. Replenish pudding and self with poteen as appropriate.)
To Serve: Put pudding back into a lightly greased mold (even if it has been re-created as a ball by a Very Pissed-Off Irish Aunt). Cover and steam for about 50 minutes, or until hot. Remove and place on your Great-Grandma’s finest serving platter…nothing else will do.
Surround pudding with real holly sprigs and stick a few on the top. Pour a bit (or a lot, depending upon how much disorienting wine you had with dinner) of brandy or whiskey over pudding.
Turn out lights in the dining room.
Shush your hysterical Fourth Cousin Twice-Removed Maureen who starts screaming “Ach! The Blight is back and God has brought down eternal darkness upon the land once again!!”
Flame pudding and bring into dining room held high (thus avoiding accidentally setting fire to same 97-year old Cousin’s outdated pompadour hairdo). When “oohs” and “aahs” subside, turn lights back on and serve with The Aunt’s hard sauce or foamy sauce.
Aunt Anna’s Hard Sauce
Beat 2 eggs thoroughly. Add 1 C granulated sugar. Beat well. Separately whip 1 C whipping cream. Add to egg mix. Flavor with 1-2 tbsp. rum, brandy or whiskey. Keep in fridge until served.
Aunt Anna’s Foamy Sauce
- 1 egg – separated
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 1/s tsp. vanilla (or brandy, rum or Hennessy 4-Star whiskey)
- 1/2 C heavy (whipping) cream, beaten until firm
Add salt to egg white. Beat until stiff. Add sugar gradually, and beat until foamy. Add egg yolk and beat gently. Fold in cream and flavoring. Serve immediately with the plum pudding.