Originally Posted by Addie
The list of ingredients is daunting. With prices rising at a rate that boggles the mind, it is a pricey dish to make. But it is mostly all the dried fruit that is put into the piece. Eachna can leave out the ginger in any recipe she ends up choosing. It won't affect the end result at all.
The hardest part of making this dish, whether it be the pudding or cake, is the mixing. You have to stir it by hand in order to get all that dried fruit mixed evenly. Using the mixer just makes the gluten develop even more and you end up with a tough cake.
Perhaps if Eachna would ask her husband to ask his mother for the recipe, she just may find her more receptive to the idea of sharing.
Before I forget...thank you to EVERYONE who answered.
My mother in law doesn't like me because I'm American, and she won't do anything positive for my husband if it might benefit me. So, he can't ask her for her recipes because she _knows_ I'll be the one cooking/baking them. She doesn't care that he'll be eating them...it means he'll be a little happier with me and she doesn't want to contribute to that.
I've been doing some reading on steamed puddings (thanks to the kind folks who mentioned that) and I think that _may_ be what she made. I'm not certain as I didn't get to see her cook it. But the other parts...marinating it in brandy, and lighting it on fire and stuff. She did all that, and those all appear to be elements of a steamed pudding. My in-laws are kind of snobs about anything "English" being best. My MIL's family is Scottish and my FIL's family is Irish, but as adults they both decided to choose "English" traditions. That's kind of surprising to me, because my Irish-American friends probably would have socked me if I suggested _anything_ "English" was better than "Irish", but I guess to each their own :D. Anyway, apparently English people love steamed puddings. And the steamed puddings are full of dried fruit, which makes them a fruitcake.
But, I'm finding the process of steaming a cake (or cake-like thing) a little confusing.
I don't have any "pudding basins" to cook in. It looks like they may just be a metal or pyrex glass bowl. Is that right? Is there something special that makes them useful for steaming a pudding (some particular shape or ratio or something?). In pictures the puddings all seem to be rounded with points on top.
I found some directions on how to steam a pudding in a crock pot: How To Steam A Christmas or Plum Pudding In A Crockpot. | Irish American Mom
In those directions, there was a mention that you could cook a pudding in a bain marie. That's what I would call a double-boiler. I have a rather nifty add-on to one of my regular pots that turns it into a double-boiler. It's an insert that fits perfectly into the pot. I use it to make sauces and ganache, because steam can't get "inside" the insert and spoil the emulsions. The pot lid also fits if I need it. The insert has a rounded bottom. Could I grease the insert, pour the liquid pudding inside, put the lid on, put water into the bottom pot and steam it that way? Does the steam have to reach the pudding or is it solely meant to be a water bath to gently cook the pudding? Is the wrapping of the pudding basin a holdover from when average people didn't own things like double boilers and was just to keep water in the water-bath from sloshing into the bowl?
This isn't exactly what my double-boiler looks like, but it's close:
I'm not sure if I'm over-thinking this. I have made cheesecake (it's one of my specialities) and I cook those in a water bath. The cheesecake pan is _not_ wrapped up in any way (other than making sure the water won't leak into the pan). That means the top is exposed to the steam moving around in the oven. I'm uncertain if the pudding can be exposed to steam also, or if it "must" be tightly wrapped to protect it from the steam. If it "must" be tightly wrapped to protect it from the steam, does that mean I can accomplish the same thing in my double-boiler?
Edit: Oops, didn't realize how long my questions turned out to be. Whatever help people could provide would be appreciated!