Tuesday, April 27, 2010
I have to be honest. If left to my own devices, I probably would have never chosen to make a traditional British pudding. I like cutesy things. I like pink cakes and desserts that look like art projects. I had this pre-conceived notion that steamed puddings were boring, both in taste and appearance. How did I get this notion? Perhaps I was judging a book by its cover. I'd never even tasted steamed pudding. It's peculiar how we sometimes develop opinions about things we haven't fully experienced.
I must be more careful of that.
I was a little surprised when I opened up the new issue of Bon Appetit to find an article on British puddings. Strange coincidence, don't you think?
The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.
"So what is suet?
It is the hard but flaky fat found on the inside of a cow or sheep around the kidneys and that area of the body." -DB forum
After reading the description I decided the vegetarian option would probably be best for our household consumption. We had several creative options: puddings with suet crusts or sponge puddings, and we could choose to make it savory or sweet. The flavor options were seemingly endless. I decided to make one simple batter and divide it into smaller portions to flavor differently.
The first small pudding has candied fruit and citrus peel added to the batter. The topping is melted blood orange marmalade mixed with candied fruit. I didn't get too fussy with the toppings. I just used what I had on hand and what was easiest.
The second pudding has rum extract and dates added to the batter. The topping is a prepared caramel sauce. Very, very yummy. The husband's favorite hands-down.
The last pudding is lemony! It has lemon zest, lemon extract and shredded coconut added to the batter. The topping is a mixture of confectioners' sugar, coconut and lemon juice. I loved this brightly flavored version. It was my favorite of the three.
The recipe I'm posting is for the batter I used, with dates and walnuts added. I encourage you to substitute your favorite add-ins, extracts and toppings. Below is a picture of the original completed dessert...
...with a piece or two missing. :) It was incredibly moist and spongy, and not boring at all. I will definitely make this again, but maybe in colder weather or at Christmas. I'd say a figgy pudding will be in order for our holiday festivities.
Steamed Pudding with Dates and Walnuts [click for printable recipe]
3/4 cup self rising flour
3 oz. shredded suet
1/4 cup extra fine granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup dried dates and walnuts chopped
Grease a 1 ½ pint pudding basin with soft unsalted butter.
Mix the flour, suet, dates, walnuts, and sugar together. Make a well in the center and add enough milk to create a dropping consistency (you may not need the entire 1/2 cup of milk).
Place the pudding in the basin or inside a lidded mold and smooth the surface with a spoon. If using a basin, cover the top with two circles of wax paper and one sheet of aluminum foil. Secure with kitchen string.
Steam over rapidly boiling water for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Check frequently to make sure water has not boiled dry. Top up with boiling water as needed.
Serve warm with custard or other sauce.