The Christmas Plum-pudding may be regarded as the piece de resistance in our consideration of rich boiled puddings :
— The difficulty of course is the choice of a recipe. “In almost every family,” writes an author of note, ” there is a receipt for a plum-pudding which has been handed down from mother to daughter, through two or three generations, and which never has been, and never will be, equalled, much less surpassed, by any other.” And I may add that in every domestic cookery book an infallible recipe is to be found for this the most popular entremets sucre of the English nation. I accordingly choose the best I can find, and leave my patronesses to judge for themselves :—
First, be sure that all your materials are beyond suspicion, especially the eggs. Christmas puddings are better boiled in moulds, although the ancient dish is represented round in shape, evidently having been boiled in a cloth.
Butter your mould well, and fill it thoroughly with the pudding mixture; cover the bottom of the mould with buttered paper, and then envelope it in a well-floured pudding cloth, as sweet and clean as cold water and fresh air can make it. When bread-crumb is used, which makes a pudding lighter than flour, a little room should be allowed in the mould for expansion, so do not tie the pudding up too tightly. A pinch of salt should always be added, for it brings out the flavour of the ingredients. Turning out will be a less dangerous operation if, in the first instance, the mould be liberally buttered, and if, in the second, the pudding be quickly plunged into cold water when it is lifted from the boiling water.
If well made, a really good Christmas pudding will keep for months; it should be boiled for six or eight hours a few days before Christmas day, and, when wanted, returned to the mould (well-buttered) and boiled again for two hours.
Take one and a half pounds of bread-crumbs, half a pound of flour, two pounds of well clarified and finely-shredded suet, two pounds of raisins carefully stoned, washed, and dried, two pounds of currants similarly prepared, two pounds of sugar, two ounces of candied peel finely-chopped, two ounces of citron, and two of preserved ginger similarly treated, two small nutmegs grated, the juice of two good sized limes, their rind very finely pared, and minced, a tea-spoonful of salt, two ounces of sweet almonds, blanched, and sliced, four and twenty (Indian) eggs, a claret-glass of brandy and a sherry-glass of maraschino. Mix all to a stiff paste, moistening with a very little milk if necessary, but be careful, for milk will make the pudding heavy.
The eggs and milk should be stirred into the ingredients after they have been thoroughly mixed together, and last of all the brandy and liqueur.—This pudding will take ten hours to boil, and will be found large enough for a party of sixteen. Reduce in equal proportions for smaller banquets.
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Plum-pudding Sauce:—Put ten yolks of eggs in a stewpan, with four ounces of sugar, and one pint of milk; stir over the fire in the bain-marie till a rich custard has been formed, add a claret-glass of noyeau, strain the sauce, and serve. Instead of the noyeau, three quarters of a pint of Madeira may be used. Bothof these excellent sauces are propounded by Jules Gouffe.
Source: Sweet dishes: a little treatise on confectionery and entremets sucrés
by Robert Kenney Herbert, 1884