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Nobody seems to know why National Plum Pudding Day landed in February but there's no good reason why it shouldn't be a year-round treat, so let's celebrate.

Plum pudding contains no plums! When it was first created, in the 17th century, plums were referred to as raisins or other dried fruits. Plum pudding (aka Christmas pudding) is a steamed or boiled pudding. However during the Puritan reign in England, plum pudding was outlawed because it was considered "sinfully rich".

Plum pudding is composed of nutmeg, raisins, nuts, apples, cinnamon, dates, and many other ingredients. In England, it is tradition for every person in a household to help stir the mixture and make a wish!

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monza006

That cake you make for your friends birthday sounds delicious. I like the idea of a marzipan modelling course... I've never seen it modelled, just in balls or eggs. I used to colour it and use it to stuff dates too. I love anything almond, and used to occasionally add a few drops of almond essence to custard! It's funny that Bird's is the go-to preparation for you too! I remember my Mum using it, but I actually prefer home made custard to the powder mix.

I'm happy you told me that rutabagas are swedes... there is a line in a Winnie the Pooh film about them and I thought they were some exotic vegetable that we don't get in the UK!

I think it's great that traditional English meals are still being passed down, and it's so nice to know that people are still doing "real" cooking too... the shop shelves are now so full of ready meals I fear the next generations will lose the skills to cook anything! :~)

puzzaddled

Now I haven't had Simnel cake but have just googled recipes and this looks very doable! (I'd have to substitute peel if I want to get Bexter to try it but the rest sounds just fine...) I love marzipan...and we make a really lovely cake with almond paste that is sinfully rich (we make it for one of my dearest friends for her birthday since she is so addicted to it). I remember once taking a mini-course on modeling with marzipan so would probably end up making those twelve balls into little easter eggs or something similar...lol!

(I make my own custard sauce but every once in a while, do cave and prepare the Bird's since that's what my friend's mum used to use....)

I grew up without eating parsnips since that was probably the only veggie my dad didn't like but now I love them roasted and what is scotch broth without a parsnip in there? On the other hand, roasted potatoes and sweet mashed turnip (rutabagas or swedes...we didn't use the white/purple ones that are more properly called turnips...) I'm many, many generations Canadian but it's funny how some of the old traditional English meals have been passed down throughout the years. ;-D

monza006

Wow, Michelle what a lot of info... I so agree with you about royal icing, which I know is traditional, but I much prefer just marzipan too, I always leave the icing if I get any. Have you ever made a Simnel Cake? Its traditional at Easter and has a layer of marzipan baked in the centre of the cake and then decorated with marzipan balls... conventionally with 12 marzipan balls around the top, it's my favourite cake.

I haven't had carrot pudding, but I love custard sauce!

Smiling... no, I didn't mention the horseradish - or my favourite - roasted parsnips! My daughter currently lives in South Africa and she's gradually converting people there to the joys of Yorkshire Pudding and roast parnips with roast beef. :~)

puzzaddled

Sounds similar in concept to Jamaican black cake, Robbie... another nummy cake that I've been able to sample from friends...

When I make fruit cakes, dark and light, I do tend to give my fruit a "soaking" first. Courvoisier brandy for my light cakes and a good Jamaican (Appleton aged) amber rum for the dark ones. (I also use the rum when we make our homemade Christmas rum balls and either when we make our homemade mincemeat.) Christmas cake is definitely made ahead of time and soaked just as mentioned below (cheesecloth, poking with skewers, periodic soaking with the spirits above...) and can also be buried in granulated sugar...one of the other preservation techniques historically used. (For those who don't want to add the spirits, the freezer works very well for aging and keeping them moist.) When I give them away as gifts, I often add a layer of marzipan to the top and decorate that with slivers of the cherries and almonds...(again, tradition covers this in royal icing but I don't really like it...too much decorating with it over the years to enjoy eating it!)

It's funny how so many people aren't fond of fruitcakes these days and yet it was considered such a special treat in times gone by. More people I know prefer the buttery light ones than the rich, dark ones.

(Carrot pudding always got served with custard sauce in my friend's home and we continued that tradition.)

I had to laugh re your Yorkshire Pud comments, Mandy! It's still a perennial favourite over here in Canada although Americans tend to have a version they call Popovers (re the Joy of Cooking). You forgot to mention horseradish on the side with that roast beast and gravy!

monza006

Wow, Robbie, that's quite a tradition, I bet their pudding and cake is amazing...
I'm so pleased you've enjoyed the comments here, I know I love reading everyone's comments tremendously. Thanks.

Robbiel

Mandy I would say that your puzzle has been an outstanding success in so many ways!! How interesting to read everyone's comments and to see how different ingredients and techniques are used all around the world. There is a Portuguese family here in Bermuda who put all the candied fruit, nuts and raisons in a bottle, pour Black Rum over them and soak until the following Christmas when they make their fruit cake and puddings. They have been doing it this way for 3 generations, since their ancestors arrived from the Azores. Thanks for the fun.

monza006

Thanks Rosie - your poor Mum slaving over a brandied cake and no-one but your Dad and Grandad to eat it... I best they was pleased... it meant plenty for them! I only like brandy occasionally, in coffee... which is strange because I don't drink coffee... except with brandy occasionally, and only when it's got cream floating on the top - LOL!!

roerick3

Those cakes with the brandy curing you are referring to are also know as fruitcakes in the old German and Polish tradition. My Polish grandmother and my mom made them all my life and no one in my family liked them except my dad, an old world German and my mom's dad, another old world German. And they started them in Sept. for consumption over the Christmas holidays. Our house smelled like brandy for months. No wonder none of us like brandy. Some plum puddings are good but the sauces served with them are what makes them taste great.

whatnauts

Geez monza, it's the middle of the night and you're here on Jigidi. You're going to be one tired lady in the morning. I do hope everything is okay :)))))))))

monza006

You understand right, whatnauts, the cakes are made in early autumn and stored, but every so often they come out and have holes pierced into them with a skewer and brandy poured in!! It makes for a very tasty and moist cake.

whatnauts

When I mentioned the xmas cakes were smothered in brandy, I meant during the curing process. After the cakes were baked, they were wrapped in cheese cloth and set aside in a cool dark place. From time to time, they were pulled out and more brandy was poured on them. This took a few months. At least, this is my understanding of the process.

monza006

Thanks whatnauts, you are right we use the word pudding to describe anything sweet after a savoury course... so I can have "puddings" on my shopping list, yet buy tarts, crumbles, yogurt or ice cream, to name just a few. However, we also refer to many genuine puddings as pudding too!! Like sponge pudding, treacle pudding and plum pudding... most of which are sponge, suet or cake type puddings. The exception is Yorkshire Pudding!! Just to confuse everyone... we serve it with roast beef and gravy! I've never had brandy butter or sauce with Christmas Cake, only with pudding!

whatnauts

Whenever I see 'pudding' posted by a Brit, I have to remember the term generally means dessert of any kind. My aunt used to make the best Christmas cake I've ever had - a rich, dark, moist cake full of dried fruits and nuts and smothered in brandy, which was probably why it was so good. I've also had Christmas pudding (in North American terms). It was with the pudding that we would have the brandy sauce, never with the cake. I suspect someone came up with Plum Pudding day in February as a reminder to finish off the leftovers from Christmas. Thanks for another fun puzzle and discussion.

Chailie

I've just spotted your comments on my "Quilted Whatnot" puzzle. Many thanks. I'm pleased you liked it.

monza006

Thanks PJ, I'm delighted you enjoyed all the info and maybe one day you'll also enjoy the festivities around it too.

puzzlejan

Mandy - delicious, and a wonderful puzzle, and so much interesting info from you and all the comments. I have tasted it - - but all the festivities around the plum pudding attract me more :-)))
PJ

monza006

I wasn't sure, but my husband assures me it will be... give it go Katie, and let me know!! :~)

buckeye425

Thanks for the ingredient list for brandy butter! I think it would also be wonderful on french toast.

monza006

yes, Gemstone, I agree, suet makes wonderful puddings, but many people are afraid to use it anymore, which is a shame. I didn't know that all puddings should be flamed, but it would definitely add to the ambience if they were! Thanks for visiting and joining in :~)

monza006

Thanks Michelle, that link was great, and now I want to visit!! It sounds like wonderful fun and just the sort of event I'd thoroughly enjoy. I'm wish you on making the rounds to try all these lovely puddings!! Figgy duff sounds wonderful too....yum!!

monza006

Thanks Katie, you must try brandy butter one day.... it's easy to make your own, just unsalted butter, icing sugar and brandy blended together. It's interesting to hear about the historic inns in your area, I've only ever seen plum pudding on a menu over Christmas, which is such a shame.

gemstone

A traditional pudding has to have suet...and should be presented "flaming"! :)))

puzzaddled

My mom served our steamed pudding with rum sauce...num num!

We'll have to make the rounds to try everyone's recipes out. First stop, Robbie's for the ginger pudding (LOVE ginger). (I also have recipes for carrot pudding from my childhood friend's Irish mom and figgy duff - a Newfoundland steamed pudding that mom also made.)

puzzaddled

Thanks for helping out Mandy, Pat. I had to go out this morning and am just back now. Mardi Gras literally means "Fat Tuesday" and yes, it's the kick off for Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans. (I'm in Canada, btw.) I have a good friend who went down one year and had a most wonderful time. She still has all the strings of beads that she caught that were being thrown from the Parade floats. Check out:
http://www.mardigrasneworleans.com/

buckeye425

Yum! I love plum pudding! I've never had brandy butter but it sounds like a perfect match! During the Christmas holiday time I sometimes have hot buttered rum with my pudding. There are lots of historic inns with restaurants throughout Ohio that offer plum pudding on their menu in the winter.

monza006

Ah!!! Thank you Pat!! I knew it was Shrove Tuesday, but not that it is big in New Orleans. As we celebrated crepe day recently I opted not to do pancakes! I googled the French phrase, and I like it!! I do love that we learn so much from each other on Jigidi :~)

pdevredis

Today is Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday, the last day of feasting before Lent, and big in Mardi Gras circles--that's the celebration of the "southern neighbors" in New Orleans that Michelle meant! And my husband signs his emails with that French phrase, which means Let The Good Times Roll, in English!

monza006

Oh!!! Ginger is one of my favourite flavours... your ginger pudding sounds really scrummy.... when's the next flight?? Thanks Robbie :~)

Robbiel

Another fun puzzle Mandy and enjoyed reading all the comments. My wife makes her own and keeps in the fridge, lasts for months. I find it too heavy and rich so make my granny's ginger pudding. Butter, milk, eggs, bread crumbs, sugar and bottle of ginger marmalade with fresh ginger minced in. Steam for 3 hours, so good and much lighter than the Plum one. Oh I think you put me in the mood for making one, thanks!!

monza006

Thanks Ardy, of course you are correct, it is terribly high in carbohydrates, although usually only very small slices are given, because it is so rich. I like to hope that one day you will have an opportunity to taste it, in a tiny one-bite size portion :~)

monza006

Thanks Chailie - your detailed further information is excellent, and I agree, that original pudding wouldn't get my interest at all! I remember my mother putting silver sixpences in the puddings, but think the custom is rarely found now... too many broken teeth perhaps? I had a pudding mould that I used which made my pudding round... I didn't know that about the cannonballs though, thanks!

ringleader

I've heard about plum pudding. I've read about plum pudding. But I have never tasted plum pudding. It sounds wonderful and high in carbohydrates which puts more than a taste on the "no, no" list for me. But I'd love to taste it. Thanks, Mandy. Your special days are really fun and educational. A good description of Jigidi as a whole as well.

Chailie

I found this on a website about Christmas Customs. The original pudding sounds revolting.

"Christmas pudding originated as a 14th century porridge called 'frumenty' that was made of beef and mutton with raisins, currants, prunes, wines and spices. This would often be more like soup and was eaten as a fasting meal in preparation for the Christmas festivities.
By 1595, frumenty was slowly changing into a plum pudding, having been thickened with eggs, breadcrumbs, dried fruit and given more flavour with the addition of beer and spirits. It became the customary Christmas dessert around 1650, but in 1664 the Puritans banned it as a bad custom.
In 1714, King George I re-established it as part of the Christmas meal, having tasted and enjoyed Plum Pudding. By Victorian times, Christmas Puddings had changed into something similar to the ones that are eaten today.
During Victorian times, puddings in big and rich houses were often cooked in fancy moulds (like jelly ones). These were often in the shapes of towers or castles. Normal people just had puddings in the shape of balls. If the pudding was a bit heavy, they were called cannonballs!
Putting a silver coin in the pudding is another age-old custom that is said to bring luck to the person that finds it. In the UK the coin traditionally used was a silver 'six pence'. The closest coin to that now is a five pence piece."

monza006

Thanks Michelle, I've never frozen it... but then again it's the shop bought ones that I store for use later in the year and they keep fine without freezing. I think you're right about Mum's cooking... it's never the same when you try to replicate it.

You have me puzzled by the mention of today's date and celebrations of your southern neighbours... I must have missed something. I do know it's also ExtraTerrestrial Culture Day in New Mexico, but somehow I don't think you're referring to that!?

2dogs7cats

Don't like Christmas cake so probably wouldn't be a fan. Just give me a bowl of the brandy butter. BTW loved the puzzle.

puzzaddled

mmmmmmmm. My mother used to make the best plum pudding and I've never been able to get it the same as she did. (Isn't that always the way with our childhood favourites...probably doesn't taste the same because mom isn't here to share the making or eating.) I did find a good approximation at a local craft fair, so buy several to put in the freezer. Thanks for sharing this neat snippet with us, Mandy.

Also, given the date and to share in the celebration of our southern neighbours: Laissez les bon temps rouler!

monza006

Thanks Pat - it's my Dad's favourite puddding... and I confess I do buy them after Christmas, when they're on sale, so he can have them throughout the year!!

pkin38

Now that is a cool tradition ..... Sounds delicious.... thanks Mandy

monza006

Thanks Magda, that's so true... a little goes a long way.... onto my hips and onto my.... :~)

oldiepumpkin

As there are no plumbs in it, maybe it was ment to be called Plump pudding, as this is surely what it does to you! But I love it.

monza006

Thanks, and I agree, Barb, and the Brandy Butter makes all the difference :~)

tigress

Now this is a day worth celebrating as far as I'm concerned. Love plum pudding with brandy butter! Yummy!!! Thanks for the puzzle, Mandy, and thanks for the history lesson. :-)