Although often confused with fruitcake, this classic Christmas dessert tastes more like a rich, dense spice cake. This version uses butter instead of the traditional suet and can be made with your choice of candied fruit, currants, or raisins.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine (at room temperature)
4 large egg whites
1/2 cup apple cider or apple juice
3/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/3 cup candied cherries, halved, or currants or raisins
1/3 cup chopped candied pineapple, currants, or raisins
1/3 cup pecan halves
Brandied Cider Sauce (see recipe below)
Step 1: Lightly grease a 1 1/2-quart steamed pudding mold or casserole. In a medium-size bowl, stir together the flour, orange rind, cinnamon, baking powder, ginger, and cloves.
Step 2: In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium, cream the brown sugar and butter until light and fluffy, scraping side of bowl often. Add the egg whites and beat well. Using a wooden spoon, stir in one-third of the flour mixture, then half of the apple cider. Repeat, then stir in the remaining flour mixture. Stir in the raisins, carrot, cherries, pineapple, and pecans.
Step 3: Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared mold. Cover mold with foil; tie foil in place with string.
Step 4: Place mold on rack in a Dutch oven. Pour boiling water into the Dutch oven until the water is halfway up the side of the mold. Cook, covered, over low heat for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Step 5: Place mold upright on a wire rack and let stand for 10 minutes. Using a narrow metal spatula, loosen side of plum pudding from the mold, then invert the pudding onto a serving plate. Serve warm with Brandied Cider Sauce; top with vanilla ice cream if you like. (Or, cover and refrigerate the pudding--it will keep for 1 week. To reheat the pudding, steam as directed in step 4 for 1 hour or until heated through.)
Brandied Cider Sauce
In a small saucepan, whisk together 3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice, 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking constantly. Cook for 2 minutes or until the mixture is thickened, whisking constantly. Stir in 2 tablespoons brandy or apple juice and 1 teaspoon butter or margarine.
Makes about 3/4 cup.