Plum Pudding, Christmas Pudding, call it what you will, we never eat it on Christmas Day, we simply don't have the stamina these days.
There is, of course, the perennial question of what to serve with your Plum Pudding, our preference is for custard, but I know a lot of people prefer brandy butter, cream, or even rum sauce. Rich and heavy pudding made even richer? No thank you, I'll stick to a well made custard sauce, our digestions can cope with that, but each to their own.
One of my old handwritten recipe books gives this recipe, dated December 1862, a note says that it was given by Lady Cagley's Cook.
Royal Sauce for Plum Pudding
Beat a 1/4 lb butter to a cream then add by degrees 3 oz of very fine loaf sugar. When well beaten add 1 glass of wine and 1 of brandy. It should be sent up in a boat and should look like thick whipped cream.
Sounds like a version of Brandy butter to me.
The same book gives a recipe for Christmas Puddings - vast quantities of them.
3 lbs flour
10 lbs currants
10 lbs raisins
3 lb bread crumbs (2 loaves)
4 lbs suet
1 oz candied peel I wonder whether this was supposed to be 1 lb?
2 oz allspice
2 lbs sugar
1 1/2 dozen eggs
Milk to mix
1/2 pint Brandy
Boiled for 9 1/2 hours in basins.
Why such a large quantity? Well this was a vicarage cook and my did they know how to feed large numbers of people.
Kitchen Christmas Tea and Supper - 60 persons present
56 lbs Beef cooked for 9 hours - properly done(!)
1 Joint of Cold Pork
3 lbs Butter
3 lbs Sugar
1/2 lb Tea
1 Pint Cream
Dining Room Tea - 25 Persons
Portion of above, plus
1 Pint Cream
1 lb Sugar
Bread and Butter
The above quantities were more than sufficient with regard to Meat and Pudding. Bread, Tea, Sugar and Cream just about right.
The book was written by a cook at a vicarage. Luckily for me, the name of the parish is mentioned once so, by the magic of internet and sheer curiosity I have managed to find some photographs of the vicarage in question as it is presently up for sale. It is a big old place with enormous rooms, Grade II listed.
It gave me quite a thrill to be able to look at photographs of the old kitchen and dining room where the writing, cooking and eating took place, way back in 1848!