Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: 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.

Okay, so here's the deal. I'm vegetarian. That means I don't come near suet (although even before I was vegetarian, I had issues with the idea of using parts of an animal besides the meat). So I decided that I wanted to use shortening or butter instead. The recipe in the DB forum didn't look so interesting to me, but Esther posted a link to another recipe that looked really yummy. It was for a rhubarb steamed pudding (part of the challenge was to steam or boil the pudding). This challenge ended up being two firsts for me - the first time I made a steamed British pudding (and the first time I even heard of one!), and the first time I baked/cooked with rhubarb.

This pudding starts off with cooked rhubarb (cooked in sugar and ginger). Then it gets put in the pudding bowl (I decided to use four small ones instead - I should have used five, because they overflowed).

The rhubarb gets topped with a cake batter made of butter, sugar, vanilla, eggs, and self-rising flour. Then you steam the puddings. I used the slow cooker, but the water wouldn't simmer, so it took longer than it was supposed to.

You take them out when they spring back when touched. Mine were barely springing back, but it was late and I was getting impatient, so I took them out.
They tasted fine. The contrast of the sour rhubarb and sweet cake was good, but the cake itself tasted a bit too much like butter and eggs and wasn't cooked enough (although the cooking part was my fault). All in all, it was a fun experience, but I won't be making this recipe again. However, I might try other steamed pudding recipes. If you want to try it for yourself, the recipe I used is below. Enjoy!

Rhubarb Steamed Pudding

350g fresh rhubarb , cut into 4cm lengths
200g caster sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
125g unsalted butter
few drops natural vanilla extract
2 medium eggs , beaten
175g self-raising flour

Cook the rhubarb with 75g/2¾oz of the sugar and the ginger over a gentle heat for 2-3 mins until just starting to soften. Remove from heat.
Grease a 900ml pudding basin. Put butter and remaining sugar in a bowl and cream together. Stir in vanilla extract, then beat in eggs, a little at a time. Sift in flour and carefully fold into the mixture.
Spoon rhubarb into the bottom of the basin, then spoon the sponge mixture on top and level off surface.
Butter a piece of greaseproof paper slightly bigger than the top of the pudding basin. Make a pleat in the centre and secure over the top of basin. Repeat with a piece of foil, then secure the whole thing with string. Place in a pan half filled with simmering water. Cover and cook for 1½ hrs, checking regularly that the pan does not boil dry. Remove cover, invert the pudding onto a plate, then carefully lift off the pudding basin. Serve with crème fraîche or single cream.

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