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Fruit pudding typically refers to one of two different types of dishes, both of which include types of fruit but are quite dissimilar. One type of food that can be referred to in this way is a traditional Scottish dish that more closely resembles a sausage than what some people might consider “pudding.” This often includes raisins or currants, flour, and beef suet mixed together and formed into the shape of a sausage or loaf, though not necessarily using a sausage casing. Fruit pudding can also refer to a sweet dish similar to a dessert pudding, which includes fruit and may be topped with dumplings similar to a cobbler.
Despite the name “fruit pudding,” the dish itself may not include any elements that some diners would consider “pudding.” The term “pudding” is often used in older contexts, especially those that have English, Scottish, or Irish origins, to refer to sausages. This is seen in dishes such as black pudding and white pudding, which consist of blood sausage and minced meat sausages respectively.
One type of fruit pudding also more closely resembles a sausage than the creamy dessert many people, especially those in the US, may think of as a pudding. This type of pudding often includes raisins or currants, though grapes or other dried fruits can be used. The fruit is typically mixed with some wheat flour and sugar, often brown sugar, as well as other seasonings and spices such as salt and cinnamon. This is then mixed with beef suet to form a wet but cohesive texture that is then bound together in the shape of a loaf or sausage.
Fruit pudding of this type is frequently served as part of a “full Scottish breakfast,” often with fried eggs, a slice of black pudding, and haggis. The fruit pudding is usually sliced, much like other types of sausages, and fried lightly before serving. Such puddings can differ greatly in size and overall shape, depending on the cook who forms the pudding.
Another common type of fruit pudding more closely resembles pudding as it is served in the US. This often simply involves vanilla pudding, or other flavored pudding, into which dried or stewed fruit is mixed and then served. Some recipes for this type of fruit pudding may instead call for stewed fruit to be placed at the bottom of a heavy dish, over which slightly sweet dumplings are spooned. This is then baked and served in a way similar to a cobbler.
Never heard of dumplings over a pudding or custard. I have, however, made and eaten banana pudding many times. This is a Southern dessert much more akin to trifle.
Sliced bananas are layered with vanilla custard and vanilla wafers in a large casserole dish. The resulting pudding is then either placed into the refrigerator, or some cooks make a meringue for the top and put it in the oven to brown it. I prefer my banana pudding sans meringue, although a little whipped cream is not unacceptable.
The pudding is also good when the bananas are replaced with fresh summer peaches. The dessert is downright decadent.