Cooking my way through Dorie Greenspan's Paris Sweets, plus other treats I come up with
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
April 2010 Daring Bakers' Challenge: Traditional British Pudding
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 was super excited when I first read about the challenge. Heroic, pioneer-woman-esque visions of rendering lard filled my head and I couldn't wait to tell all sorts of cocktail-party horror stories. Unfortunately, my dreams were dashed when I found out that none of the butchers at Pikes Place Market carried suet.
With only days left, I turned to Nigella Lawson. I'm a huge Nigella fan, not so much for the recipes as for her evocative writing style. Each recipe comes with a story, and it just makes me feel so British, in a polished, sultry sort of way. Out of the four Nigella books I own, only one, How To Be a Domestic Goddess, carried a steamed pudding recipe. Geez, steamed puddings must be so unfashionable that even Nigella doesn't give it much attention...
The recipe I did find was for a lemon-y syrup sponge. As someone firmly entrenched in modern baking techniques, I found the instructions totally bizarre. To make the pudding, you fill a bowl with corn syrup and lemon juice, pour a cake batter on top, then steam the whole thing for two hours. Nigella promised a feather light pudding, but I had my doubts.
Let's walk through the recipe together. I didn't have a proper pudding basin, so I used a large 5-cup ceramic bowl. The amount below has been scaled down to make about 3 cups of batter, enough to fill the bowl and make 4-6 servings.
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature
1 1/8 cup (146 g) cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/3 cup (67 g) sugar
zest of 1 lemon + juice of 1/2 lemon
4 tbsp milk
The batter should be thick but pourable. Add more milk if needed to thin out the batter.
Butter the pudding vessel of your choice (make sure you have a pot large enough to fit the pudding bowl into). Pour into the bowl 2/3 cup + 1 tbsp light corn syrup. I find it easier to weigh out 250 g with my scale than to fiddle with sticky measuring cups. Add the juice of the other half lemon and stir together.
Pour the batter over the syrup. Cover with foil (or the lid of the pudding dish, if you have one).
Put the pudding bowl into a large pot. Pour enough boiling water into the pot to reach 1/2 to 2/3 of the way up the bowl. Cover with the pot lid, and keep the pot boiling over the stove for two hours.
And yes, it will work.
Working quickly, turn the pudding out onto a plate. Watch out for the hot syrup on the bottom of the bowl.
I was surprised how well the pudding turned out. It was light and airy, with a moist, syrup-soaked top. If I didn't know any better, I would have thought it was a baked dessert. With the long two hour cooking time though, I think I might stick to my oven.