"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Plum Good Plum Pudding
Copyright © 2004 by Bill Scifres

Plums! Plums! Plums! Blue plums, red plums, yellow plums, green plums; plum jelly, plum jam, plum butter, plum wine (hic), plum cobbler, plum pudding, PLUM GOOD!

A check of your favorite cookbook will leave the impression that in the days of Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, and Scrooge, making the plum pudding for Christmas dinner was a culinary nightmare. Shucks, they didnít even use plums; they used currants, sort of a raisin. 

In reality, turning out a tasty plum pudding--with real plums, yet--is almost as easy as falling backward off a log when you are trying to cross a creek.

Having turned out plum jelly and jam for many years when I could find ripe plums, I have always wondered if I could make a plum pudding. Plums--especially those beautiful, football-shaped blue plums a k a prune plums)--are never easy to find. But a month or so ago I came by half a gallon of blues while picking blackberries in the eastern part of the state. On that excursion, Karen Dickson, Brownsville, Ind.,  my genial host and fellow berry picker, introduced me to homemade plum butter, and told me how to turn out this delicacy in the kitchen.

It was like waving a red shirt at a bull. I hadnít been home more than an hour when I took my plums to the kitchen sink and proceeded to cut them in half, lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Next day, following  Karenís instructions, I put the plums in a saucepan with about half a cup of water and cooked them slowly (stirring them often) until they were well cooked, but still in halves.

When they had cooled a bit, I ran them through a colander to turn them into pulp. Then, as per Karenís instructions, I put the pulp in a smaller saucepan and cooked it very slowly (more or less just allowing it to steam away excess moisture while stirring often to avoid burning) until it reached the consistency I wanted. Then I stirred in sugar, nutmeg cinnamon and powdered clove until it tickled my taste buds just right. PRESTO! Plum Butter.

That was the beginning. Thoughts of plum pudding still flitted through my head, and put me in search of blue plums, red plums--any kind of plums--everywhere I went. But plums were not available, not even at the farmersí markets.

Recently, however, I found blue plums (the grocery store calls them prune plums) and bought enough to make two cups with seeds removed, skin on. In the back of my mind, I had been wondering if I could substitute pieces of plums for the persimmon pulp in my grandmotherís recipe for persimmon pudding and come out with a plum pudding.

The next day I cut each plum in half lengthwise and removed the flat, brown seeds. Then each half was cut into four pieces--crosswise cuts on a cutting board.

At this point, I placed the pieces of plums in a saucepan with half a cup of water and cooked them (covered) to tenderness. This created more than a cup of a beautiful pinkish-red juice, which was strained off and kept in a separate container.

The pre-cooked plums were then substituted for two cups of persimmon pulp in my grandmotherís persimmon pudding recipe.

The result: A plum pudding cake that was well over an inch thick, with cake-like exterior and pudding-like interior. Inundated with a sauce made from the plum juice, it was a thing that would have made the aforementioned Cratchit, Tiny Tim, and Scrooge think-a-likes.

Hereís the recipe

 2 cups pre-cooked plums
 2 cups milk (use less if you like thicker pudding) 
 2 cups sugar (granulated) 
 2 cups flour 
 3/4 stick butter or margarine 
 1 teaspoon cinnamon 

Directions:  Melt butter and stir into prunes. Stir in flour, sugar, cinnamon in that order and mix well. Stir milk in slowly; mix well. Pour into 9-by-8-inch cake pan and bake for one hour, or less, in 350 degree preheated oven. Cutting baking time will create a juicier interior. Serve with a sugar sauce made with juice from pre-cooked plums. 

Sauce Recipe:

In small saucepan, over medium heat, melt two tablespoons butter or margarine. Stir in two tablespoons four. When flour thickens, stir in plum juice, sugar to taste, and cook until sauce is desired thickness. Spoon hot sauce over pudding. Sauce will refrigerate well, and is as tasty cold as hot.

A TIP OR TWO--Lining baking pan or dish with parchment paper will make it easier to remove pudding from pan . . . brown sugar may be substituted for white sugar in both sauce and pudding.

Click on thumbnail image to see enlarged view.

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Turned out on a cutting board to cool, plum pudding is as pretty as it is tasty. This cutting board depicts the blue plum, star of my pudding. Whole plum right, plum cut in half with seed at center, and two plum halves cut crosswise for processing.

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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