Aunt Grace's Plum Pudding

My great-aunt Grace Ponton, who brought up my father after his mother died at childbirth, made this pudding for every Christmas in Belleville, Ontario. It makes 6 kg, so unless you have as large a household as she did, you will probably prefer to make a smaller recipe.

Mix everything together. Divide between four 6" to 8" heat-resistant bowls lined with greased butchers' paper. Cover tops with butchers' paper tied down tight. (Don't substitute modern aluminum foil, the sulphur added as a preservative to raisins corrodes it - tastes terrible.) Steam 5 hours. Remove bowl lining, wrap each pudding in cheese cloth, return to its bowl, add ½ cup brandy to each. Recover tightly with butchers' paper. Age at least 2 months in a cool place.

To serve: Steam pudding 3 hours, still covered in bowl.
Prepare hard sauce (make 3 hours before serving):
2/3 cup butter
2 cups icing sugar
2 Tbsp. brandy

Place pudding on a large plate with a rim. Warm ¼ cup brandy in a metal cup and light it, pour over pudding. (Turn the lights out for greater effect!) Add a spoonful of hard sauce to the top of each serving.

* 'Currants' in stores, then and now, are European Zante grape raisins. Grace regularly made a bread which the children called "fly bread", almost certainly using these currants. However, home-grown black currants (Ribes nigrum) were available at the time the pudding was set up, so this remains a possibility.

Sankey of Ottawa