adventure, baking, britain, dessert, dining at downton, disaster, edwardians, escoffier, family, fruit, holidays, victorians, winter

Dining at Downton: How to serve plum pudding

We had a relatively quiet Christmas here in Ohio, seeing family and telling funny stories and going for long, snowy walks and eating good food. As per tradition, we served plum pudding for dessert on Christmas night, along with a lot of other treats (frosted cookies, red velvet cake, petit fours…). We don’t mess around with dessert.

As I mentioned a few days ago, the serving of plum pudding is half the fun. Once you’ve steamed the pudding so it’s nice and hot (2 hours at 350 degrees, back in the mold and the double boiler you set up to cook it the first time), you turn the pudding out into a heat-resistant dish. Heat up a little brandy on the stove, pour it evenly over the pudding, and hold a lit match close to the pudding. The fumes from the brandy should pick the flame right up and set the whole pudding alight. In a darkened room with all the family sitting around a candle-lit table, there’s nothing quite like it: blue flames dancing around the dish, creating a magical feeling.
Unfortunately, our evening did not go exactly according to plan.
The brandy we ended up using was just too old, so the flames died out almost immediately. Here is the only picture we could get of bringing the pudding to the table–if you look closely, you might see the blue flames as they dwindled to nothing.
That doesn’t mean the pudding wasn’t delicious, though! The days it spent ripening in the cold did it good, and the pudding was light and fruity with a citrusy zing. It had a tender, spongy crumb that contrasted well with dabs of rich hard sauce.
If you celebrated the holidays this December, I hope you enjoyed equally delicious food and fun company. (I also hope that your projects went a little more according to plan than mine!)

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