There's something absolutely hilarious about the phrase 'plum duff'; it brings to mind 1950s comic books, where pesky schoolboys steal puddings from their straight-laced teachers and so forth. It's the distant, rather fruiter, cousin of Spotted Dick (snigger) and as traditionally British as a buttered crumpet served at a tea-time picnic in the rain.
Chances are that at this time of year there are nagging thoughts at the back of your mind about (say it quietly) Christmas puddings, as stirring-season is well and truly upon us. Personally, I'm a pudding commitment-phobe, so this represents just enough slow cooking to keep me satisfied.
This is a classic recipe, made a bit lighter and fruiter. Since I'm vegetarian (and a bit of a squeam) I've replaced suet with frozen, grated butter, but feel free to use the original if you so fancy.
You will need:
- 110g self-raising flour
- 110g raisins
- 100g dates (chopped)
- 110g breadcrumbs
- 110g muscovado sugar
- 110g frozen butter, grated
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg, or 1/4 freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 250g plums, roughly chopped
- 1 orange, zest and juice
- 3 tbsp sloe gin (or any kind of fruit liqueur, or rum, whatever you have lurking)
- 2 free-range eggs, beaten
- 2 tbsp milk
- Grease a 1 litre bowl or basin. (I used a pyrex bowl)
- Place the flour, dried fruits, breadcrumbs, sugar, frozen grated butter and spices together in a bowl and mix together well.
- Add the chopped plums and stir gently.
- Add the orange zest and juice, gin, and beaten eggs and stir to combine.
- Add in the milk, until the mixture forms a dropping consistency (i.e. drops off the spoon when you turn it sideways).
- Tip the mixture into the greased pudding bowl. Cover the top with greaseproof paper and secure the edges with string so that no water will drip into your pudding as it steams.
- Half-fill a large saucepan with boiling water. It needs to be big enough to hold the pudding bowl.
- Put the pan over a low heat. Gently place the pudding bowl in the water and cover the pan with a lid.
- Steam for around 3 hours, checking every so often to make sure the water hasn't dried out.
- When firm to the touch, remove from the pan (this is where the string is useful), remove the greaseproof and turn out onto a dish.
- Serve warm with custard and feel yourself being transported back, Dr Who-style, into the 1950s...