Showing posts with label steamed pudding. Show all posts
Showing posts with label steamed pudding. Show all posts

Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas Pudding

Most of us here at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen turn to our old favorite recipes at the time of year (or variations upon them), and I’m happy to add mine.

At my house when I was young, the Christmas menu was as set in stone as the Thanksgiving menu: standing rib roast, with potatoes cooked in the drippings in the pan; something green like peas; creamed onions for one die-hard member of the family (nobody else would eat the things); and for dessert, chocolate steamed pudding.

Pudding is kind of a deceptive term, that we usually associate with goopy milky glop, and is no doubt a tribute to the English origins of the dish. The English often use the term pudding for any dessert. But this is officially a pudding. The virtue of this recipe for holiday meals is that you mix it up, put it in a pudding dish or steamer mold, stick it in simmering water, and ignore it for a couple of hours while you deal with the rest of dinner.

I was once again reminded of this dish when I picked up a cookbook in a secondhand store in Ireland: Winter Puddings, a collection of sweet/dessert recipes adapted from the Cordon Bleu Cookery School and published in England in 1971. Perfect for the season, right? And of course it included a number of recipes for steamed puddings of various flavors.

In the past I’ve made the chocolate version, as well as a cranberry variation, but what caught my eye this time was a Steamed Ginger Pudding. Of course the details of the recipe were given in British units with some ingredients I seldom use (suet?? is that like, uh, lard? or what we feed the birds?), but I soldiered on. After all, I possess more than one pudding mold, and they must earn their keep.

Cordon Bleu Steamed Ginger Pudding


10 oz flour (this turned out to be two cups)

(Note: if you watch the Great British Baking Show, you know that ingredients there are often measured by weight, and in their honor I have a kitchen scale and now use it regularly)

1 rounded tsp ground ginger (really? is that all? I added a tablespoon—I like ginger)

a “good pinch” of mixed spice (oh, heck, I don’t know what that is—how about some cinnamon and a dash of ground clove?)

1 tsp baking soda

a pinch of salt

5 oz shredded suet (seriously? Beef fat? I substituted butter, at room temperature)

1 large egg, beaten

6 fluid oz (6 Tblsp) golden syrup or treacle (alas, both are hard to find locally. I could have brought both back from Ireland, but together the cans weighed about five pounds, and my suitcase is always pushing the limits. Plus they’re liquid, and I’m not sure how the government feels about that these days.) I used dark molasses.

about 6 fluid oz milk (I’ll assume whole milk), at room temperature


Sift the flour, spices and baking soda into a bowl.

Add the butter, then mix. Pour in the beaten egg and molasses and mix.

Pour the milk into the bowl. Stir well: the mixture should drop easily from the spoon (not too thick).

Find yourself a pudding basin (or use a metal bowl that will stand up on its own) and generously grease it.

I have two. The one on the right was the one I
grew up with, so that's what I used.

Pour the batter into the basin, level it off, and cover the top of the basin (or bowl) with a piece of greased waxed or parchment paper held on by string. (Or clamp the lid on over the paper, if you have that kind.)

Stand the basin in a large pan of boiling water. The water should reach somewhere between half-way and two-thirds up the side of the container (it shouldn’t be floating!). 

Cover the large pan and steam the pudding for about 2-1/2 to 3 hours (yes, really). Do not let it boil, merely simmer. If the water is boiling off and the level is sinking, replace it with more boiling water as needed.

See how much it rose?
When you open the basin/bowl, if all has gone well the pudding will have risen to the top. Let it cool for a bit, to make it easier to handle, then invert the mold onto a plate, and it should slide out easily. Serve it warm, sliced into wedges, with a sauce if you like. If you use Redi-Whip, I won’t tell.

And it even came out of the mold!

If you’re feeling adventurous, the cookbook also contains recipes for Rich Fig Pudding, Chocolate Pudding, Spotted Dick (don’t ask), Valencia Pudding, and Six-Cup Pudding. 

May your holidays be merry, and may you get whatever you wish for!

The three wise men, er, meerkats

Friday, December 30, 2011

Steamed Pudding

by Sheila Connolly

My family didn't have a lot of food traditions.  I've already mentioned the omnipresent roast beef at any gathering of more than five people at our home--never a ham!  For years we catered to one crochety older relative who loved creamed onions and mashed turnips, but those disappeared from our lives when he did.  My New York grandmother kept us supplied with wonderful cakes and cookies, so we didn't bake much for the holidays.  The one constant exception was steamed pudding.

This really is a throwback recipe, harking to old English custom.  If you read descriptions from the day, it sounds rather disgusting.  I checked my Williamsburg Art of Cookery (1742), where the recommendation for plum pudding was to combine pounds of raisins, orange and lemon peel, walnuts, suet, breadcrumbs, salt, sugar and flour--plus one teaspoon cinnamon and one-quarter teaspon each of nutmeg, mace, ginger and cloves (ten pounds of ingredients and a grand total of two teaspoons of spices?  Talk about blah!).  Then pour it into molds, "tie down with a clean scalded cloth and boil gently for ten hours."  Yes, ten hours.

Another options was to put your pudding into a floured bag and boil for a few hours--I have to hope that the flour created a crust, or the thing would be one soggy mess.  Or maybe that's what they were aiming for.

The "modern" version is not limited to the fruit and nuts variety.  When I say modern, I'm referring to the Boston Cooking School Cookbook (aka "Fanny Farmer"), the 1947 edition--my family's Bible for basic cooking.  For as long as I can remember, we had Steamed Chocolate Pudding for Christmas dinner.  As you can see, it shows penciled edits by my mother, my sister and me, added over the years.

Steamed Chocolate Pudding

3 Tblsp butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg, well beaten
1 cup milk
2 1/4 cups flour (we preferred cake flour because it gives a finer texture)
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 squares unsweetened chocolate
1/4 tsp salt

Cream the butter, then add sugar gradually, then the egg.  Sift the flour with the baking pwder and salt, and add alternately with the milk to the butter-sugar mixture.

Melt the chocolate (Fannie et al. did this over boiling water, but they hadn't invented microwave ovens in her day) and add the to mixture.

Turn into a buttered mold.  Steam for 1 3/4 hours.  Serve with whipped cream.

Sounds simple, doesn't it?  The challenges are (1) to find a steamed pudding mold (I have three, the rather plain family heirloom, and a couple of fancier ones I bought for myself) and (2) steaming the thing.  The instructions say, fill your mold no more than 2/3 full (this will expand!), cover it (place a layer of buttered wax paper beneath the cover so it won't stick), place the mold on a trivet in a kettle containing enough boiling water to come halfway up the mold.  Keep the level steady, adding more boiling water as needed.

It had never occurred to me that the effect here is cooking it at precisely boiling temperature, 212 degrees F.  Baking it in a low oven would not create the same affect.  On the plus side, you can do this on the stovetop, if your oven is occupies with a turkey/goose/roast.  On the minus side, you can't tell how it's doing, all sealed up in there, and you have to take the timing on faith.

A couple of comments, gleaned over the many years:

--The blinking thing floats!  You really have to find a way to weight it down so that the lower part stays both level and consistently submerged, or you'll end up with an unevenly cooked cake that tilts to one side.

--Butter everything well, or some part will stick somewhere.  It'll still taste good, but it won't be a pretty presentation for guests.

--If you use unsweetened chocolate, the pudding will not be very sweet (you can compensate by sweetening the whipped cream).  You might prefer semi-sweet chocolate.

Ah, but when it works, it's a delightful smooth and light cake that melts in your mouth.  It's worth the trouble!

One last note:  the 1947 cookbook offers pages of alternatives, involving cranberries, blueberries, carrots (!), figs, mixed fruit, ginger and orange cream, plus, of course the traditional plum and suet puddings. 

Have a happy New Year!