Plum pudding is a traditional holiday dessert that goes back hundreds of years. And it doesn’t actually contain plums: just raisins and candied fruit. In the 17th century, “plum” meant any dried fruit. Traditionally, you make it a year ahead so it can age, but even a couple of weeks will do, so don’t worry about getting a late start. You can start another one after the holidays and you’ll be all set for next year, too!
Plum pudding is a steamed pudding, cooked for many hours in a slow oven. We sped this up by using our Instant Pot counter top pressure cooker, to reduce the time to just 2 hours. The recipe we are using is half the original, which makes a slumgullion of pudding, and even then we did it two batches, one in a Mrs Anderson’s Baking Steamed Pudding Mold, and a smaller one-hour amount in a small bowl wrapped in foil.
- ½ lb seedless raisins
- ½ lb golden raisins
- ¼ lb currants
- ½ cup thinly slice citron
- ½ cup chopped candied peel
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp mace
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 1/8 tsp allspice
- 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ½ lb finely chopped suet (powdery fine)
- 5/8 cup brandy
- 5/8 cup fresh bread crumbs, (about 2 cups)
- ½ cup warm milk
- ½ cup sherry or port
- 6 eggs, well beaten
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup softened butter
- 1 ½ cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or 2 Tb brandy or rum
Beat the softened butter in an electric mixer and slowly add the sugar. Add the vanilla or brandy and served with the plum pudding.
Making the pudding
- Blend the fruits, citron, spices and suet in a bowl or jar.
- Add 1/8 cup brandy, cover tightly and refrigerate for 2-4 days, adding more brandy each day.
- When ready to mix up the pudding, mix the milk and sherry or port together.
- Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk/ wine mixture.
- Combine the beaten eggs and sugar and blend with the fruit mixture.
- Add salt and mix thoroughly.
- Put the pudding in a buttered pudding mold or buttered bowls. With the pudding mold we bought, we get about 2/3 of the batter in it. Cover with foil to seal it and keep out the moisture.
- Put a cup of water in the Instant Pot, add the trivet, and place the pudding mold on the trivet.
- Seal the Instant Pot, and steam on Manual for 2 hours.
- Uncover and place in a 250° F oven for 30 minutes.
- Add a dash of brandy to the pudding, and store in a cool place.
- Repeat with the remaining batter in a small bowl covered securely with foil.
- Allow the pudding to age for a week or two, adding a dash of brandy every day or two.
- When ready to serve, reheat in the steamer, and unmold.
- Sprinkle with sugar, add heated brandy and ignite.
- Serve with hard sauce.
Date bars and cookies are always part of the holiday season, perhaps because of their Middle Eastern origins. Soft flavorful date bars take about a hour to make, and keep very well. This recipe is an old family one, adapted from an old Betty Crocker recipe. (Note that date bars are very different from Singles’ Bars.)
For the filling
- 1 ½ cups pitted dates, cut up
- 1 ½ cups raisins
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 ½ cups water
Mix the above ingredients in a saucepan and cook with occasional stirring for 10 minutes, until smooth and thickened.
For the cookies
- ½ cup butter (1 stick)
- ¼ cup shortening (Crisco)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 cup quick cooking oats
- ½ cup chopped nuts
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Cream the butter and shortening in a mixer and add the brown sugar. Mix until smooth.
- Stir in the flour, salt, and soda and mix until uniform. Stir in the oats and mix thoroughly.
- Press about half of the crumbly mixture into the bottom of a greased 13 “x 9” baking pan.
- Mix the chopped nuts into the date mixture and spread over the bottom layer.
- Sprinkle the remaining crumbly mixture on top and press down slightly.
- Bake until light brown, about 25-30 minutes.
- While warm, cut diagonally from corner to corner and then in parallel to the first cut about an inch apart. Repeat between the other two corners, making diamond shaped bars.
- Remove when cool. Makes about 2 dozen.
Christmas cut-out cookies are a holiday tradition in many families. These delicious, but simple, cookies have been part of our family tradition for at least 3 generations. The sour cream keeps the cookies moist, and the icing helps them stay that way. They don’t last long in most families!
If you have sour cream, butter, sugar and some cookie cutters, these aren’t very hard to make. And you can ice them with your whole family.
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, softened (preferably unsalted)
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 31/2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Butter cream icing(below)
- Colored sugars
- Combine the butter and sugar together and cream using an electric mixer.
- Add the sour cream, baking powder, soda, salt and vanilla.
- Add the eggs and mix well.
- Add the flour to make a soft dough.
- Cover the mixer bowl with foil and chill in the refrigerator or freezer for an hour or so.
- Preheat the oven to 325 F.
- Take out only about a quarter of the dough at a time, and roll it out on a floured board, keeping the rest chilled.
- Cut out the cookies and place on baking parchment on a cookie sheet, or directly on a greased cookie sheet.
- Bake for 7-9 minutes until the edges have only just started to brown.
- Cool the cookies on a wire rack and ice with butter cream icing and decorate with colored sugars.
Butter cream icing
- 1/4 lb (one stick) butter
- 1 lb confectioners’ sugar
- About 1/4 cup milk
- Soften the butter by pressing the wrapped stick with your hand or a rolling pin. Cut into pieces and place in a food processor. Add the confectioners’ sugar and pulse until uniform,
- Add the milk, a little at a time until the icing is smooth and spreadable. Mix food coloring into portions of the icing so you have several colors available.
Ice the cookies and decorate with colored sugars. Let them dry for an hour or so before boxing them up.