Pamela’s Plum Pudding

Christmas is usually a big affair at the Flockhart and extended family household. Much is made of tradition throughout the day and also for the Christmas Dinner. Auntie Ida used to come out to Longwood about 4-6 weeks before Christmas to help make the puddings and pies. We all had to have a stir of the pudding mixture for good luck and wrap money and charms to put inside it. Here’s the recipe that we all love so much, and hope you do too!

CHRISTMAS PUDDING (Pamela Flockhart)
Enough for 9-10 x 1pint/half kilo puddings, two medium sized puddings or a big one! I didn’t realise until I tried this myself that it makes a lot of pudding! If you want to just make one for your family of 4-6 I suggest you use only a third of the recipe amounts 🙂

Plum Pudding Recipe

Pamela’s Christmas pudding is rich and usually most enjoyed in the days after Christmas – warmed or cold with cream!

 

FRUIT: DRY INGREDIENTS:
  1. 450g currants
  2. 450g seedless raisins
  3. 350g sultanas
  4. 225g muscatel raisins
  5. 110g glace cherries
  6. 110g preserved ginger
  7. 110g dried apricots or peaches
  8. 110g candied orange peel
  9. 110g candied citron peel
  10. 50g candied lemon peel
  11. 225g shredded almonds
  12. 225g finely grated carrot
  13. 2 teaspoons glycerine
  1. 280g White breadcrumbs
  2. 170g Brown breadcrumbs
  3. 280g Plain flour
  4. 2 tsp Baking powder
  5. 2 tsp Salt
  6. 2 tsp Cinnamon
  7. ½ tsp Mixed spice
  8. ¼ tsp Ground ginger
  9. 1 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  10. 1 ½ tsp Ground mace
OTHER INGREDIENTS: A. PREPARE BASINS:
  1. 225g Butter
  2. 225g Suet (sub with grated frozen butter or vegetable shortening)
  3. 450g Cooking apples, peeled & chopped
  4. 225g White Sugar
  5. 225g Brown Sugar
  6. 8-9 eggs
  7. 3 tbsp Golden syrup
  8. 3 tbsp Black treacle
  9. 140ml Brandy/rum/whisky/sherry
  10. 140-240ml Old ale/stout/sherry/wine
Grease and line bottom of pudding basins with a circular disk of baking/greaseproof paper.Cover puddings with 2 circular disks of baking/greaseproof paper, 5cm wider diameter than basin. Use an old sheet to wrap up the basin, tie with a drawstring around top and make a small handle. Scald cloth & sprinkle with flour.
B. PREPARING MIXTURE: C. MIXING THE PUDDING:
  • Clean & prepare fruit.
  • Chop into smaller pieces if too large. Peel & grate carrots.
  • Mix altogether.
  • Sprinkle with glycerine.
  • Mix crumbs in and cover.

Leave in a cool place overnight.

  • Sift together in a very large bowl the flour, slat, baking powder and spices.
  • Cut in the butter & suet till mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  • Add sugar, then crumbs and the apple.
  • Add the fruit & mix well
  • Beat eggs well and stir into muxture gradually
  • Warm the syrup & treacle and stir in
  • Stir in the spirits

Mixture should be moist enough to drop easily from a spoon but not runny.

D. FILLING THE BASINS E. COOKING TIME
  1. Fill each basin about ¾ full
  2. If money or charms are to be included – boil first in a little water and wrap well in baking paper, and lay in at intervals as you fill the basin.
  3. Smooth over the top & make a little hollow in the middle.
  4. Cover well with baking paper
  5. Wrap in cotton (old sheet)/foil and tie up with string.
  6. Scald and sprinkle with flour.
  1. Set basins on a rack in a pot of boiling water.
  2. Boil for at least 4-5 hours
  3. (Make sure water doesn’t get into the pudding and that your pot does not boil dry!)
  4. Store in a cool place
  5. On Christmas day boil again for a further 2 hours.

(If microwaving, do not put foil or money in! A 450g pudding can be zapped on high for 3 minutes and left to stand for a couple – a large pudding is better steamed).

SERVING  
  1. Unwrap pudding, carefully loosen edges and upturn onto a heatproof plate – watch out,  it will be steamy hot! Remove any baking paper.
  2. Make sure that you have a clear, unobstructed route to the table. And that there is a place to set the pudding down on a mat. (Look out for draped decorations that could catch fire.)
  3. Pour a cup or two of rum or brandy over the pudding and strike a long match or lighter. Touch the flame to the base of the pudding. As soon as the low blue flame covers the pudding, parade the pudding into the dining room (preferably to singing or the bagpipes) and ceremoniously place on table mat.
  4. Garnish with holly, if desired.
  5. Serve with brandy butter and/or cream.
pudding ingredients

The mixture in process. It darkens in colour after adding the treacle.

Scones!

I’ve never been very good at scones, I don’t make them very often (that’s probably why), mainly because I don’t think I’ll ever be able to achieve the ease of throwing together an awesome scone like Pam. So it was with trepidation that I attempted scones this morning. The incentive –  so Hugo had something to take along to friends for morning tea (that’s what we call mid morning snack in Australia) and also because I promised Mike Small that I would post Pam’s Scone recipe!

Mum grew up in Australia and, as in Scotland, the Country Women’s Association or Women’s Rural Institute is famous for its scone making prowess. The simplest of recipes can be the most challenging and floor even the most accomplished chefs (as a recent MasterChef episode illustrated). Mum learnt to make scones with ‘Gravy’ (aka Ms Graves) – the most resourceful cook and dressmaker I have ever come across and who supported my grandmother in raising her 4 children alone in Sydney in the 1940s. Both Gravy and Mum loved the CWA and Australian Women’s Weekly recipe books.

Pamela’s scone tips:

  • don’t over work the dough (when a scone recipe says to knead the dough, all you are doing is pushing the mixture together and bringing it to a relative uni form). Mum made scones in a block on a baking tray, not cookie cutter scones, which probably accounts for the rougher texture of her scones. (They wouldn’t have won prizes at the local county show! She did win prizes for all sorts of other things though ….:-)
  • use a knife to mix in the milk
  • preferably use milk that’s gone off
  • to keep warm and soft, wrap in or cover with a clean tea-towel
  • eat them fresh out of the oven, warm with real butter and home made jam
  • a hot oven (at Longwood, the Aga top oven)
  • and generally I’m pretty sure that speed actually helps the lightness of a scone’s being…
Basic Scone

Basic Scone

BASIC SCONES a la PAMELA (makes about 12)

Heat your oven to 220 degrees. Oil and flour a small baking tray.
Use a knife to stir a dessert spoon of caster sugar (optional*) into 3 cups of SR flour (or plain flour + 3 tsp baking powder). Add a pinch of salt. Make a well in the centre, and with the knife, mix in 1 cup of milk (room temp is best) until you create a soft dough (you might have to add another tablespoon of milk; don’t add too much though or it will become too sticky). Use your hands to grab all the dough from the bowl into one large ball. (Do not knead as your scone will become heavy.) Press out the dough onto the tray to make a rectangle about 1.5cm thick and score into approx 12 squares. Brush the top with milk. Pop in the oven on the top shelf for about 12 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack for a short cooling and cover with a clean tea towel.
Serve warm with just butter or decadent cream and jam.

[For a richer flavour, you can rub 25g of butter or marg into the SR flour with your fingertips til the mixture resembles breadcrumbs or I like to use half milk, half cream.]

* Mostly sugar was not added into the main mixture (kids probably would prefer it), because the jam usually adds enough sugar.

DIVERSIFYING YOUR SCONES

At the  sugar stage you could add chopped dates, sultanas, cheese etc. At the Longwood Bakehouse organic flour was always used, but usually white for scones. For a wholemeal scone that tastes okay and is not like a brick, I recommend using 1 cup wholemeal, 1 cup white. I haven’t tried scones with quinoa, pumpkin and sunflower seeds etc but I think that would enter the ‘muffin’ genre of scone-making. Please comment and share your favourite scone variations.

This morning I experimented with ricotta and dark chocolate ….

Chocolate Ricotta Scones

Chocolate Ricotta Scones

Chocolate Ricotta Scones

I replaced the 1 cup of milk with 1/2 cup of Ricotta + 1/2 cup milk. I broke up 2 pieces of Lindt 85% dark chocolate into shards and stirred these in with the knife before adding the last bit of milk. Also, after brushing with milk, I sprinkled the surface with sugar ( I used caster but brown would have been better). Hugo will let us know if they were palatable……?

Welcome! I’m just getting started!

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This blog is all about sharing Pamela’s wonderful collection of recipes with family, friends and the community that enjoyed so many of her meals around the Longwood kitchen table and all the other Flockhart family homes over the years.

Pamela Ellison Flockhart (nee Macartney) was an avid home-maker and superb cook – cooking for the five thousand was a regular feat and delivered with ease over the 61 years of her marriage to Ross, nourishing five children, five grandchildren and whoever walked in the continually open back door. An architect by profession she performed the duties of a minister’s wife for many years and continued in the same ways long after my father left the occupation. Pamela was a role model to many who inspired us all with her effortless hospitality, her good nature and level-headed advice.

My brothers, David, Andrew and Patrick, and I, as well as my sisters-in-law over the years have been known to ring Mum with an urgent request for one of her classic recipes – no matter where we were living at the time – it could have been Tennessee, Taiwan, Australia, Malaysia or France.

Many of these recipes were stashed in a notebook that my grandmother, Thelma Macartney (nee Buchanan) gave mum in the 1950’s – an imperial sized lined notebook – the sort that were standard issue in Australian schools at the time. This book now lies in tatters next to me on my desk, held together with rubber bands and yellowy sticky tape. It contains many of Pamela’s favourite recipes collected from many sources, either clipped from magazines, shared by friends or requested from a restaurant. What it doesn’t contain, and which are sadly now lost, are her tips on how to vary the recipe or to shortcut the process. She had an inimitable way of throwing ingredients together without too much care for measuring exactly and was always adventurous in replacing an ingredient with another if it wasn’t in her generously stocked pantry.

I’m not sure of the exact date when she decided to start the Longwood Bakehouse (or indeed when she closed it; I’m sure Dad or my brothers will set me straight) but I think it must have been running from the early 1980’s into the mid-90’s.

The Bakehouse was our family country kitchen, in East Lothian, where Mum used stoneground organically grown wholewheat flour and free range eggs to produce a variety of bread, rolls, quiches, pizzas, cakes and pavlovas. Rising at around 3am five days a week to mix and knead, prove and bake became the ritual that my father joined, helping Mum before he drove 20 miles into Edinburgh for a day at the office (delivering bread on the way!).

This blog is an attempt to share Pamela’s Longwood Bakehouse Recipe Book with all the family, friends and community that so enjoyed many meals around the Longwood kitchen table or the dining tables of the Polwarth, Pentland View, Northfield, Iona, Buccleugh Place, Argyll Crescent and Sydney homes.

Please leave your comments and anecdotes about Pamela and her recipe collection, especially if you recall any of her special tips!