The English origins of the plum pudding are actually related to the origins of mince pies. Plum pudding emerged from the process of preserving slaughtered meat by keeping them in a pastry box with dried fruits. Eventually, this would lead to the process of slow cooking meat with bread, sandalwood and currants, and the dish would be known as plum pottage. However, as the time went on, the fruit component of the pottage would increase, and the meat would be eventually taken out. The plum pottage would become the plum pudding, as other ingredients would be integrated as well. The plum pudding is also known as a Christmas pudding, and although it has similarities with the fruitcake, the plum pudding is denser, richer, and uses a lot of spices.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp grated orange rind
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 large egg whites
3/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/3 cup chopped candied pineapple, currants, or raisins
1/3 cup pecan halves,Brandied Cider Sauce
Lightly grease a 1 1/2 quart steamed pudding mold or casserole. In a medium-size bowl, stir together the flour, orange rind, cinnamon, baking powder, ginger, and cloves.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium, cream the brown sugar and butter until light and fluffy, scraping side of bowl often. Add the egg whites and beat well. Using a wooden spoon, stir in one-third of the flour mixture, then half of the apple cider. Repeat, then stir in the remaining flour mixture. Stir in the raisins, carrot, cherries, pineapple, and pecans.
Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared mold. Cover mold with foil; tie foil in place with string.
Place mold on rack in a Dutch oven. Pour boiling water into the Dutch oven until the water is halfway up the side of the mold. Cook, covered, over low heat for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Place mold upright on a wire rack and let stand for 10 minutes. Using a narrow metal spatula, loosen side of plum pudding from the mold, then invert the pudding onto a serving plate. Serve warm with Brandied Cider Sauce; top with vanilla ice cream if you like. (Or, cover and refrigerate the pudding–it will keep for 1 week. To reheat the pudding, steam as directed in step 4 for 1 hour or until heated through.)
In a small saucepan, whisk together 3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice, 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking constantly. Cook for 2 minutes or until the mixture is thickened, whisking constantly. Stir in 2 tablespoons brandy or apple juice and 1 teaspoon butter or margarine. Makes about 3/4 cup.