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Friday, December 10, 2010

SFoodie Advent Calendar, Day 8: John Campbell's Plum Pudding

Posted By on Fri, Dec 10, 2010 at 10:16 AM

Small plum pudding, $5. - JONATHAN KAUFFMAN
  • Jonathan Kauffman
  • Small plum pudding, $5.

The SFoodie Advent Calendar counts down the days before Christmas/Nondenominationalwinterholiday, one treat at a time.

Eat plum pudding for Christmas and you're participating in a tradition that dates back at least as far as the Middle Ages, and perhaps long before that: a time when raisins, called "plums," were a grand luxury, something to splurge on for feast days and then spend hours meticulously picking the seeds and twigs from. The early puddings were thick wheat porridges that were cooked, then wrapped in cloth and boiled or steamed for hours ― the European equivalent of Central American tamales colados or nacatamales.

John Campbell, San Francisco's favorite Irish baker, makes a lovely plum pudding for the Christmas season, moist and rife with raisins, currants, golden raisins, and apples. The flavor of rum and Jameson whiskey intertwines with the clear, high aromas of citrus fruits, and while each bite tastes blastingly rich ― about as much as you can take ― after the sugar subsides you find yourself cutting yourself another slice. Campbell steams the puddings for 2 1/2 hours, using molds he found at a surprising source. "I was looking for metal molds for several years, and was unable to find them," he says. "Then I found paper or plastic molds for pennies at Kamei Housewares on Clement Street."

The bakery sells two sizes of the puddings ― a grapefruit-size small for $5 and a cantaloupe-size large for $10. Campbell says that you can reheat them in an oven or toaster oven, at 375° F for 15 minutes, or simply microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute. He recommends serving with brandied custard; the counterperson SFoodie bought our pudding from said she's used Bird's instant custard.

John Campbell's Irish Bakery: 5625 Geary (at 21st Ave.), 387-1536; 3101 Fillmore (at Filbert), 563-1519; 300 De Haro (at 16th St.), 621-2212.

Previous days:
Dec. 1: Fruitcake from Schubert's Bakery
Dec. 2: Vegan Peppermint Joe-Joes
Dec. 3: Coconut snowball from Sweet Adeline
Dec. 6: Cranberry linzer verrine from Citizen Cake
Dec. 7: Panettone from Dianda's
Dec. 8: Clarine's Florentines
Dec. 9: Boccalone's truffled mortadella

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie. Follow me at @JonKauffman.
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