How Not To Flambe’ Plum Pudding

Plum Pudding plate

It all began when I discovered a plate I’d tucked away several years ago. As I recall, I got it at a thrift shop and only paid a quarter for it. With visions of Plum Pudding dancing in my head, I rescued it from the recesses of the cupboard, gave it a gentle washing, and set off to learn everything there is to know about making the classic Christmas dessert.

Plum pudding plate maker(By the way, if anyone knows about the plate or its maker, please give me a shout; I’d love to know more about them.)

Plum Pudding has a long and fascinating history (feel free to Google it) and requires a lot of advance preparation. Suffice it to say, I assembled the thirteen ingredients (representing Christ and His disciples) on “Stir Up Sunday” five Sundays before Christmas, steamed it for six hours, and sprinkled it with rum (my choice of liquor out of many possible candidates) regularly until Christmas. When it comes to cooking, there’s no detail too daunting and no ritual that goes unremembered.

Except holly.

First, there was the matter of finding a sprig of holly (to represent Christ’s crown of thorns) to garnish dessert in progress, and secondly, I guess I should have waited until closer to “flambé day” to pluck the aforementioned garnish from its native bush. But, I was anxious to have everything at the ready and I happened to be driving by a friend’s house early in December with said bush in their front yard…

Fresh sprig in hand, I drove home and plopped it into a ramekin, making a mental note to keep it watered until Christmas.

(Insert a very busy couple of musical weeks here.)

Flambé Day had arrived.

After re-steaming the Plum Pudding a final two hours, I nestled it on its plate and adorned it with the not-quite-as-fresh-as-it-once-was holly. Then, I set up my tripod and enlisted The Man Of Few Words’ help to fill the ladle/hold the ladle/light the ladle/pour the ladle while I took pictures (quick aside: the ladle contained warmed rum) and prepared to delight him with this new-to-us traditional dessert.

Here’s what happened.

How Not To Flambé Plum Pudding:

1. Plum 1

2. Plum 2

3. Plum 3

4. Plum 4

This is why folks don’t ask me to water their houseplants.

Not to worry though…

After the flames died down, the Plum Pudding was just as delicious as I imagined. (Shown here topped with Zabaione.)

Plum Pudding serving

Happy Boxing Day!

And… do not try this at home.

Enjoying heartwarming traditions (literally),

~ Kim

36 thoughts on “How Not To Flambe’ Plum Pudding

    • Thank you, Liz! “Real-life” adventures in blog land tickle me greatly — I’m glad you see the humor in them, too! No doubt there’ll be more in 2014… :) Happy Christmas & New Year to you, too!

    • Isabelle, thankfully I set up the shot a few feet away from my curtains… I could have used “Safety Sam” (or at least a fire extinguisher!) at one point, but minimizing disaster seems to be one of my specialities. ;) Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, too, my dear friend!

  1. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s awesome! What a spectacle! I think that is a perfectly legitimate way to flambe a pudding, just as long as the holly doesn’t burn quite long enough to turn to ash and impact the flavour ;) Merry Christmas to you Kim! xx

    • Jas, I flung the holly onto a plate as soon as humanly possible without singeing my fingers. It was a comedy of errors I wish I would’ve videotaped in retrospect and I’m STILL laughing at the memory of it — and the look on The Man Of Few Words’ face! All’s well that ends well… :)

    • Uru, prior to this, the only thing I’d ever flambe’d was Cherries Jubilee (contained in a pan) — this was an “open air” experience and one of those lessons learned for next time. LOL!!! Yup, the taste was worth the excitement. :)

  2. Oh my, I’m glad you survived your first flambee’d plum pudding! LOL! Thanks for the tips on how not to do it. What an undertaking – it does sound delicious! I hope your Christmas was joyous and otherwise uneventful. :)

    • Veronica, thankfully the rest of this week could be described as: “All is calm, all is less bright.” :) By the way, I’ve so enjoyed the photos of your lil’ Christmas angel. xo Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you and your family, too!

  3. Now THIS is one of the many many reasons I so love and adore you!! Your sense of exploration w/things that are right in your wheelhouse, which others would never even give a second glance probably, and then make a mystical journey out of it w/good tastes and great laughs! I just wish I’d been there when you hit the big flames!! xoxo

  4. Oh you did this so well…and you managed to even click pictures while your “plate is on fire!” I must have tasted great with zabaglione! Lovely, lovely! Wish you a belated Christmas and a very happy and prosperous New Year ahead. I am excited to learn a lot of recipes from you in the next year as well, Kimby! :)

    • Purabi, I love that you recognized the sauce by one of its other names. (You’re such a well-read, experienced cook!) I debated whether to label it zabaglione or sabayone; the recipe I used was from Julia Child and she called it Zabaione. “Whatever.” ;) It tasted wonderful! Best wishes to you and your family in the New year, too!

    • Shirley, trust me, it wasn’t a planned “shoot,” lol! I had my tripod aimed for a nice “blue flame” effect — wasn’t expecting ones that shot up so high. Despite the pyrotechnics, the plum pudding survived and tasted yummy, too! Thanks for your humorous reply. ;) xo

  5. That is so funny, Kim. I have never made a plum pudding because I fear all the work involved. I may just have to make one now, now that I know all the symbolism involved. I think you did well to find a bush of holly – I’ve never seen one in Sydney! Love the dramatics of the fire and I’m so glad it was only the pudding that was set on fire. I’m glad it was very tasty xx

    • Charlie, I was surprised to learn some of the traditions behind Plum Pudding, too; they made it even more special and commemorative. A “modern day tip” that may be of interest to you was to steam the pudding in a crock pot (set the wrapped bowl on an inverted bowl or jar lid in the bottom of the crock pot, pour in boiling water half-way up the pudding bowl, batten down the lid, and “steam” away.) Now all you have to do is find some holly — but please water it more often than I did. ;) Happy New Year!

  6. No, I think this is the perfect way to make plum pudding. Why save all the fireworks for Summer when you can have them in your very own home for Christmas? ;) All jokes aside, I hope nothing got damaged, (besides the unlucky holly) and that you had a lovely day!

    • Grinning about your comment, The Great Zambini — thanks for your humorous assessment of the situation! Come to think of it, fireworks are part of New Year’s Eve celebrations here, too… maybe I should wait ’til Dec. 31st to set it ablaze? ;) Toasted holly aside, it tasted great and we did indeed have a lovely day. Thank you!

    • Dear ChopinandMysaucepan, my hubby (The Man of Few Words) seldom raises an eyebrow at my antics (being so used to them by now), but the expression on his face as the flames shot upwards were worthy of a photo shoot of their own! (Too bad I had my tripod “fixed.”) I agree with you, memories are made from moments such as these. :)

  7. Shanna, your observations made me smile. Wasn’t thinking about “trend-setting” when I wrote this post, but I hear ya. Real life is much more interesting (and entertaining) than a list of “shoulds.” Hope you got your fire extinguisher! :)

  8. Little did I know when I saw this plum pudding post that it would be funny. I’ve flamed rum on my kitchen stove and had the flames dance around my exhaust hood but I’ve never captured it on film. Note to self…don’t flambé plum pudding as my ceilings aren’t high enough. :)

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