I'm asking for my mom, who after 1,000 years of making plum pudding with suet suddenly wonders if she can make it with lard, butter, or any other fat?
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I've made traditional cloth-boiled plum pudding with butter before for vegetarians and it worked fine. You do need quite a lot of butter though. The real difference I found was in the consistency and the "skin." The consistency is a bit more cakey, less dense, and the "skin" is not nearly so firm - this makes it slightly harder to get it out of the cloth and onto the plate without it falling apart and a bit harder to do the brandy pour and set on fire trick. But it did work and it still tasted delicious...
I would use Crisco to keep it a bit more authentic.
AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.
The problem with using anything other than suet is that the melting point of suet is much higher than the alternatives. As a result, with any substitute, you don't get the little pockets in the pudding that result from the later stage melting of the suet. My vote is to stick with the suet, especially if she's been doing it for 1,000. "Ain't broke . . . don't fix it." ;o) P.S. I'm not entirely sure however about the melting temperature of lard, so it may not be a problem with it. Now, I'm really interested.
Suet melts around 47C and Crisco between 45-50C; my head gets very fuzzy because any solid fat changes it's hydrogen/carbon chain when melted and temperature increases which may transform either into a transfat product ???
No -- melting changes the physical state of the fat (i.e. it goes from a semi-solid to a liquid), not its chemical composition or molecular structure. It takes a pretty intense chemical process to transform an ordinary fat to a trans-fat.
Thanks everyone. I'll pass on your great answers and let you know how it turns out!
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Well played. You deserve a cookie.
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