Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Plum Duff-Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook, 1950

It is freezing in here today (the super-high wind outside isn't helping any). Oh, I know-a rational person would give-in and start the furnace already, but I'm half Ukrainian, and we think it is the height of irrationality to start the furnace before 1 November. There can be a foot of snow on the ground, but no matter, 1 November is when the furnace is lit. After all, it is only going to get colder-might as well start acclimating now. 58 degrees inside will seem downright balmy come January. Like Jimmy Carter said during the energy crunch, "Put on a goddamned fucking sweater you dumb bastard, and quit sniveling like a two year old." Well, he would have said it if his press secretary permitted it. He probably thought it. (Bonus points if you can name Carter's press secretary without Googling it).

Hell yes, I steamed a pudding-and I'm going to give the Christmas puddings the initial steam tomorrow. I baked bread too. We're up to sixty degrees now-probably warmer in the kitchen, which is where we spend most of the day anyway.

This is Mr. ETB's very favourite dessert. Fortunately, it is simple enough to make, requiring only a large pot, and time to steam. The recipe in the book suggests it will be ready in an hour-this is an outright lie. Mine clocked in at two hours and fifteen minutes. Sure, you should check it now and then, but keep in mind that while it is difficult to over-steam a pudding, under-cooking one leaves you with an inedible blob. Err on the side of caution. I should also note, that this is a pretty dark pudding. The photograph in the cookbook shows a lovely, yellow coloured pudding with rich prunes dotted throughout. This too, is a lie. Once the brown sugar goes in, your pudding is going to be deep brown-which if I might say so, is in line with my expectations for a steamed pudding, suet or not.

I used a mould with a centre tube, which helps with that issue of a too-soft middle. You can use a Pyrex bowl, or a 1 lb. coffee tin, or whatever you like, but do allow more time for the solid moulds. You'll need to elevate the mould inside the pot, so try out everything before you begin, and make sure you can still fit a lid comfortably on top. Because I used a Dutch oven for the steaming (a canner works great too) I used a round, metal cookie cutter to sit the mould on. Tuna tins work as well.

OK, so here are a few pointers before you get started on the steamed pudding adventure (you experienced pudding makers can just go ahead and start stirring).

Do not cover the tops with waxed paper. It is flimsy, the cheaper brands melt (or stick), and you'll regret it. Parchment works well, but you need to tie the kitchen string securely, which can be difficult to do, as it slips. Me? I use either foil, or parchment. If you're lucky enough to have one of those self-enclosing pudding moulds, I hate you. Really, I do. I've been asking for one for Christmas for oh...I don't know...something like seventeen years now. Has he bought me my pudding mould? No, he has not. I did get an unabridged OED one year (or was that an anniversary?) which is nice, but you can't steam a pudding in it.

You'll need to keep an eye on your water level-so keep a pan of simmering water handy for refills.

You Will Need:

2 large eggs, beaten well
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
2 cups soaked, drained, cut-up prunes
1 cup sifted AP flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda (bicarb)

Beat eggs. Mix in brown sugar, butter, and prunes. Sift dry ingredients together, and mix well. Pour into a (very) well buttered pudding mould, and cover tightly. Place on a rack in a large pot or steamer, and surround with water leaving about 3 inches from the top). Cover pot with lid, and steam gently for at least 2 hours.

Carefully remove, and invert on a plate to serve with hard sauce, or whatever you like. Next day-fry leftover pudding slices in a pan full of butter. What? Am I the only person that does this, or am I the only one that admits it?

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