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.
I loved the spirit behind this challenge. Esther is British and and wanted us to experience an ingredient that most Daring Bakers (especially those of us outside of England) had probably never used before: suet. She also wanted us to try a cooking technique that was once quite popular but is almost never used anymore: steaming.
Let’s talk about pudding for a moment, though. Because here in the United States, a pudding is a dessert that is usually sweet and milk-based, with a custard-like consistency. It can also refer to a dish made from bread or rice, most often sweet (but sometimes savory).
In Britain, however, pudding means something quite different. The word pudding is used as a synonym for dessert. There are a number of traditional British recipes with pudding in the name, such as Christmas Plum Pudding and Sticky Toffee Pudding. There are also many savory dishes known as puddings: examples are steak and kidney pudding, black pudding (made with sausage) and blood pudding.
Though I was initially a little put off by the idea of the suet (aka raw beef fat from around the kidneys of a cow or sheep), I would have used it if I’d been able to find it, as true suet is an all natural unprocessed fat.
But I couldn’t find it, so I opted to use butter instead, and to focus on creating a sweet steamed pudding.
I turned to my 1913 edition of the Fannie Merritt Farmer’s Boston Cooking-School Cookbook (first published in 1896) and found pages and pages of steamed pudding recipes. Score! I adapted the following gluten-free pudding from the Ginger Pudding recipe found on page 399 of my book. I had no idea if the almond flour would work in this context, but it did. It worked very well, in fact. It’s really moist and when topped with this maple rhubarb sauce and served with Greek yogurt, it’s really delicious. You can serve this for dessert, but I think it’s healthy enough to enjoy at breakfast. If you don’t have almond flour and/or you don’t need it to be gluten-free, you can substitute all-purpose organic unbleached white flour (or try spelt flour) for the almond flour.
Note that you need some sort of mold in which you will steam your pudding. You can buy an inexpensive Pudding Basin or if you’ve got an antique mold of some sort, that would be perfect. I didn’t have either, so I improvised a steaming set-up using a bowl set inside a larger pot. Make sure you butter your “mold” very well, so that your cooked pudding will slide out easily.
It’s also important to cover the mold very tightly when steaming, so no liquid gets in. Once your pudding mold is set inside the pot where it will steam, you’ll want to have simmering water in there about 1/2 way up your mold the whole time the pudding is cooking.
Almond Steamed Pudding Recipe
adapted from The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook by Fannie Merritt Farmer
Makes approximately 6 servings
*1/2 cup unsalted butter, preferably organic
*1/2 cup organic sugar
*1 egg, preferably organic and free-range
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*2 1/4 cups almond flour (from either blanched or unblanched almonds)
*3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
*1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
*1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
*1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
*1 teaspoon ground ginger
*1/2 cup milk
1. Cream the butter and the sugar. Add egg and beat until well mixed. Add the vanilla extract and beat again.
2. Stir the dry ingredients together in a bowl and then add to the butter/sugar mixture, alternating with the milk, until everything is mixed well.
3. Pour into buttered mold, cover well (I used a layer of parchment and several layers of foil) and then steam for 2 hours. Serve with the rhubarb sauce and a large dollop of Greek yogurt.
Maple Rhubarb Sauce Recipe
Makes about 2 1/2 cups
*3 cups trimmed chopped rhubarb
*1 cup dried strawberries (the sugar-free ones packaged by the Just Tomatoes brand)
*1 cup pure maple syrup
*juice of 1/2 lemon (I used Meyer lemon)
1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
2. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to mash up the rhubarb and strawberries, until the fruit is very soft/mushy and the sauce has thickened.
3. Cool before serving over steamed pudding, or anywhere else you would use a fruit sauce.
Thanks to Esther for an great challenge- make sure to check out her blog for a lot more information on all the types of steamed puddings and traditional ways to make them!