Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pudding = suet?!

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.

If possible. Hmmm...can that be loosely translated? I'm not a vegan, but the thought of using the hard, flaky fat found around the kidneys of a cow...


I'm sure that it makes a lovely British pudding and I would even try it, if someone else had made it... So, I went with vegetable shortening and a sweet version (no surprise here!) called a Sussex Pond Pudding.

I had no idea what I was doing. Really. I have never steamed anything but veggies.

Normally, I research methods that I'm unfamiliar with, but lately, I haven't seemed to have the down time I used to, so this recipe attempt was a fly by my skirt kind of deal. Nothing like waiting till the last day...

To top it off, the recipe measurements were by weight, a much more accurate way to bake, I know, and fortunately, I had recently purchased a digital postal scale! Yay me! lol

The recipe wasn't difficult. Basically made pastry, dumped sugar and butter into the pastry, pricked a lemon and dropped it in, and covered the whole pile with more sugar and butter! Doesn't that sound grand?!

Here's the recipe and some (unprocessed) photos I took along the way (my notes are in red):

Pudding Crust for both Savoury Pudding or Sweet Pudding (using suet or a suet substitute):

- (250 grams/12 ounces) Self-raising flour (Note* If you cannot find self-raising flour, use a combination of all-purpose flour and baking powder.) Didn't have self-raising flour, so I used 3 cups for this recipe of 1 cup of all purpose flour + 1 tsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp salt + 1/4 baking soda for every cup of self-raising flour.
- (175 grams/6 ounces) Shredded suet or suet substitute (i.e., Vegetable Suet, Crisco, Lard)
- (a pinch) Salt and pepper (Note* If making a savory dish, can be replaced with spices for sweet if wished.)
- (210 millilitres/a little less than a cup) Water (Note* You can use milk or a water and milk mix for a richer pastry.)

1. Mix the flour and suet (Crisco) together.

2. Season the flour and suet mixture with salt and pepper if savory and just a bit of salt and/or spices if sweet.
3. Add the water (milk), a tablespoonful at a time, as you mix the ingredients together. Make up the pastry to firm an elastic dough that leaves the bowl clean. The liquid amounts are only an estimate and most recipes just say water to mix.
4. Don’t over handle the pastry or it will be tough.
5. Reserve a quarter for the lid and roll out the rest and line a well-greased bowl.
6. At this point add your filling.. a couple of options are give below but have fun and go wild!
7. Roll the final piece of pastry out into a circle big enough to cover the top of the basin, dampen the edges and put in position on the pudding, pinching the edges together to seal.
8. Seal well and cover with a double sheet of foil – pleated in the centre to allow room for expansion while cooking. Secure with string, and place it in a steamer over boiling water.
9. Steam for up to 5 hours, you may need to add more boiling water halfway through or possibly more often. There is a lot of leeway in this steaming time and different recipes give different steaming times. Delia Smith says 5 hours for Steak and kidney where as Mrs Beeton says 2.5 for a similar dish! One way to tell that it is cooked is when the pastry changes colour and goes from white to a sort of light golden brown. It is also hard to over steam a pudding so you can leave it bubbling away until you are ready.

Sweet Pudding Options: Sussex Pond Pudding
- 1 amount of suet pastry (see recipe above)
- (120 grams/4.2 ounces) Demerara Sugar I couldn't find this, so I used Turbinado sugar. Demerara Sugar has a mild molasses flavor while Turbinado has been described as having a hint of honey.
- (120 grams/4.2 ounces) unsalted butter
- 1 large lemon
1. Cut the butter into small pieces and put half in the basin with half the sugar.
2. Prick the whole lemon (preferably one with a thin skin) all over, using a thick skewer. I used a wooden chopstick.
3. Place on top of the butter and sugar in the basin.
4. Cover with the rest of the butter and sugar.
5. Finish building the pudding as per the pastry recipe.
6. Steam for 3 ½ hours, or longer (for a really tender lemon), adding more water if needed. I used my slow cooker. I placed a small plate upside down on the bottom and then placed the pudding bowl on top. Slowly added water until it was about 2/3 up the sides of the bowl and then covered the whole thing with another piece of foil. The steam does condense on the foil and drip off, so make sure to have a few towels. :) Mine cooked for about 4 hours.

7. To serve, turn the pudding into a dish with a deep rim, when you slice into it the rich lemon sauce will gush out.

This is what the pudding looked like after 4 hours. I was surprised to see that it had browned!

Yeah...not very appetizing, is it? That's the lemon in the middle and the sauce did "gush out."

8. Make sure each person is served some of the crust, lemon and tangy luscious sauce.

 Or just scoop some of the crumbly part into a dish, top with vanilla and whipped cream!
Final thoughts...this was an easy recipe, but I won't be making this particular one again. Not even the kids cared for it much...not even with the toppings! I think they were hoping for more of a volcano cake...chocolate with gushing fudge... Of course, this was my first steamed pudding, so I'm sure I could have improved in many places along the way! If you have any advice for me, please share!
The process was interesting and in the future I may try a different recipe - there were lots of variations from the other Daring Bakers!

Thanks, Esther for broadening my steamy horizons!

What have you been cooking?


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