After a spectacular dinner, you need an equally spectacular dessert. Why not try a good old English dessert with a twist? Plum pudding, also called Christmas pudding, is a steamed dessert that actually contains no plums at all. This pudding dates back to the 1700s.when raisins were called plums, thus the name.
Raisins, both dark and golden are included in the traditional recipe as well as currants, candied citron and even beef suet, which gives the pudding a richness and soft texture without tasting like beef.
The pudding is steamed for about 2-3 hours and then served with a hard sauce or a nice brandy sauce. Because of the long cooking time, I have developed a recipe for a plum pudding inspired bread pudding that has all the wonderful flavor of traditional plum pudding without the long steaming time or the beef suet.
Top this delicious dessert with an orange hard sauce that beautifully brings out the lovely citrus notes of the pudding. A hard sauce is made by creaming together butter and powdered sugar and then adding brandy or other flavors. As soon as the sauce hits that warm pudding, it will begin to melt and mingle with the delicate flavors of spices and fruit.
Just a note about candied citron: Citron is a thorny plant that is native to India. It produces large fruits that have a thick rind. Candied citron is a key ingredient in fruitcake and is available at Reasor’s seasonally. Once Christmas is over, the citron will be gone.
Plum Pudding Inspired Bread Pudding
- 1 (16 oz) loaf day old French bread, torn into small pieces
- 1/4 cup dark raisins, choped
- 1/4 cup golden raisins, chopped
- 1/4 cup candied citron, chopped
- 2 tablespoons currants, chopped
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups whole milk
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- Finely grated zest of 1 Navel orange
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Grease a 13×9 inch baking dish and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine torn bread and fruit; toss to mix. Pour into the prepared baking dish.
In a large measuring cup or bowl, whisk together the cream, milk and the rest of the ingredients, mixing well. Pour the custard mixture over the bread and fruit. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350. Remove bread pudding from refrigerator and allow to stand at room temperature until oven is ready. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until firm and instant read thermometer reaches 140-145 degrees. Serve warm with Orange Hard Sauce.
Orange Hard Sauce
- 1 stick butter, softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- Finely grated zest from 1 Navel orange
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons brandy or orange juice
In a mixer bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and continue beating until well creamed. Add the juice, zest, vanilla and brandy. Beat on low speed briefly until well combined. Chill until ready to use.