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Steamed puddings: the mystery of the veiled bowl

April 27, 2010

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.

It was 12:30am and I had to wake up in five and a half hours to get ready for work.    I was desperately trying to stay awake and it didn’t help that the apartment was so steamy that a party of Romans would have felt perfectly comfortable dropping their togas and having a sauna. These were the makings of the April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge which was hosted by Esther, of The Lilac Kitchen.  Esther chose to have the daring crew make traditional british steamed puddings – she gave a lot of leeway in terms of what recipes we could use but she did give a selection of resources to get us started.  And several of the recipes used suet, which, for many, was a challenge in and of itself.  Read more about the challenge recipes and see what some of the other participants made here.

When I was at the Brooklyn Kitchen getting ingredients for Brunswick stew I picked up half a pound of suet, which the butcher gave to me ‘on the house’ – I guess there isn’t a lot of demand in Brooklyn for big chunks of cow fat.  I’m not sure what our collective aversion is to this substance – for me I think it was mostly just unknown -I can’t claim to be averse to fats in general given the sheer quantities of butter I consume and the fact that I love nothing more that a juicy steak with a (un)healthy piece of fat on it.   Anyway, after my initial distaste I was happy to try something new and to know that I was using up parts of the animal that might otherwise not be eaten.

I decided to do two types of pudding since these were new to me and I wanted a chance to experiment.  I made one steak, mushroom and onion pudding, following Esther’s recipe for steak and kidney but subbing in the vegetables instead of the kidney.  I also made a Sussex Pond pudding from a Pudding Club recipe – which is a pudding with a crust that is filled with a mix of butter and sugar and has inside it a whole lemon.  The lemon cooks and juices so that the pudding lands up saucy and tart.  I would  have approached this whole citrus concept with a lot more sceptiscim if I were not a recent convert to the craft of preserved lemons.

I have to admit I found the whole experience a tad stressful, what with all the tying of foil and setting up a makeshift steamer… and none of this was helped by the late hour of the steaming.  But I think I will try making steamed puddings again.  In particular Rebecca revealed to me in email what she had made and I know that is one recipe I’m going to have to try (its not up on CakeWalk yet but will be soon I’m sure)

–By Talia

41 Comments leave one →
  1. April 27, 2010 10:18 am

    If you find this whole foil stuff annoying, you could use canning jars the next time. That’s what I did: I steamed my DB cranberry & orange pudding in tiny canning jars in my electric waterbath canner. It worked great! Enjoyed reading your post.

    • April 27, 2010 10:20 am

      You are a genius! that is such a good idea – plus I love to make tiny everythings. I will definitely be trying that!!

  2. April 27, 2010 11:28 am

    Sorry the experience was stressful for you, but glad you seemed to enjoy it anyway! I always love your photos, and your puddings are no exception. They look fantastic. Great job on the challenge.

    • April 27, 2010 4:46 pm

      Thanks Shelley!
      I guess there is good stress and bad stress and sometimes in the kitchen I can get myself into a panic but its always good stress!

  3. April 27, 2010 12:34 pm

    those are absolutely beautiful! and just think…all of the daring bakers probably have radiant skin this month because of the saunas that were in all of our houses. 🙂

    • April 27, 2010 4:46 pm

      What a good point: instead of feeling guilty turning the apartment into a steam box I should have just reminded Melissa how lovely her skin would be

  4. April 27, 2010 12:48 pm

    New to your blog…love your photos and you did a really nice job with the DB challenge. Good for you for using the suet and all- your steamed pudding looks great.

  5. April 27, 2010 12:54 pm

    I was looking forward to seeing yours, too! I love that you got suet for free- when I attempted to make my own lard, I got my pork fat for free. I bet if people asked, they would be surprised what can be on the house!

    I know I’m totally a broken record, but these photos are really lovely, and despite your opinions of the finished dish, the photos are worth the steam sauna! But I bet they tasted good…

    • April 27, 2010 4:40 pm

      I had once asked the butcher if they had any bones they could give me for free as I wanted to make stock and was so suprised they didn’t have anything to offer… but maybe I should ask that again at my new favourite butcher Brooklyn Kitchen!

      As for the broken record… you can keep it playing anytime – its always nice to hear compliments. Poor Noerah I sent her home with the puddings and she had to carry them up and down stairs to the train and actually managed to pull a muscle. the things we do for the love of the blog!

  6. April 27, 2010 2:10 pm

    Absolutely stunning pics you made!! And your puddings look gorguous!! I bet the next time will go a lot less stresfull, as always with trying new recipes!! But for now I can only say: ENHORABUENA!! (congratulations!)
    Greetings from Spain,

    • April 27, 2010 4:38 pm

      I was just thinking earlier while seeing various daring baker’s sites how fun it is to be part of all this international cookery, so thanks for your visit from Spain!
      My blog partner is the photographer and managed to make some magic from my puddings which I did not think were very photogenic!

  7. April 27, 2010 3:00 pm

    Well done for going all the way with suet; I just couldn’t bring myself to use it. And your puds look lovely too:-)

    • April 27, 2010 4:36 pm

      Thanks Sunita. Now that I’ve used the suet it doesn’t seem like a big deal but I was totally squeamish about it before… funny!

  8. April 27, 2010 3:26 pm

    Hi there, thanks for visiting my site, yours looks very interesting, I will be back. The garden and the house in France normally soothe my nerves to a point that I don’t feel like doing anything! LOL. The toothache I am afraid was the worst I have ever had and over a long weekend it was well beyond the joke! After a painful 20 mins in the chair I am feeling quite human again! Diane

    • April 27, 2010 4:35 pm

      I’m glad you are feeling better, that sounds really miserable.

      Hope you will come back, I think I’m going to post some pictures of my front garden and containers tomorrow: perhaps they will be good for a laugh for you, its all so tiny and amateur compared to your spread!

      • April 28, 2010 3:39 pm

        I love your garden, it is beautiful. You have done wonders. Diane

      • April 28, 2010 7:34 pm

        Thanks Diane – its so tiny my strategy is just throw things in and hope!

  9. April 27, 2010 3:53 pm

    I was too chicken to do this months challenge, but your photos are making me regret it. The pudding looks really delicious.

    • April 27, 2010 4:33 pm

      well its never too late to play with suet! they definitely were worth it and i was glad to overcome my initial reservations.

  10. April 27, 2010 5:36 pm

    Both your puddings look gorgeous! I stayed up late steaming mine too, so ended up having them the next day. It sounds like you enjoyed working with the suet a bit more than I did, though!

    • April 28, 2010 7:39 pm

      Oh yeah, I did not manage to eat any that day! I guess we’ll both have to start cooking earlier next time!

  11. April 27, 2010 8:00 pm

    I too experience a suana in my house! My windows were dripping with water. Your pudding looks great though. Nice job on the challenge!

  12. April 28, 2010 3:25 am

    I did mine in a large slow cooker and no sauna. Good on you giving it the good old college try and I’m sure it did taste good. And I hope the next goes better. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

    • April 28, 2010 7:38 pm

      Thanks Audax: I don’t have a slow cooker but maybe I could use my huge canning pot… I’ll try figure something out w/ that for next time!

  13. trissalicious permalink
    April 28, 2010 5:45 am

    Make shift steamer, buying suet etc… yes it does sound a bit stressful but looks like the results paid off! Beautiful pictures.

  14. April 28, 2010 6:17 am

    The butcher was so nice to you… 🙂

    New to your blog…very nice pictures….

    The Variable, Crazy Over Desserts – Nachiketa
    Catch me on facebook @ Crazy Over Desserts

    • April 28, 2010 7:37 pm

      Thanks: my blog partner takes all the photos, luckily for everyone! Hope you’ll come back and visit us often!

  15. sarah permalink
    April 28, 2010 6:39 am

    wow! this takes me back to when I was a kid. My mom made steamed puddings every year for Christmas (using suet). I remember hearing the clanking of the ceramic bowl in the boiling water for hours. Yours look absolutely delicious!

    • April 28, 2010 7:36 pm

      you know i don’t think i’ve ever had a traditional christmast pudding at all… you should get your mom’s recipe and try it for me!!

  16. April 28, 2010 3:00 pm

    Steak and Onion sounds more yummy then steak and kidney. I will definitely try the pond pudding for my sweet version one of these days.

    • April 28, 2010 7:35 pm

      i figured suet was enough unusual shopping for one challenge so i stuck w/ the veg!

  17. April 28, 2010 11:17 pm

    I love the title of this post – so fun. Very daring to try both versions. Great job.

    • April 30, 2010 7:47 am

      I was so amazed at the idea of cooking something all tied up so I couldn’t even see how it was coming along: mystery for chef, guest and blog reader alike!

  18. April 29, 2010 5:08 am

    New to your blog and think its gorgeous.
    Sussex pond….. wonder why they call it that? Your puddings look good to me.

    • April 30, 2010 7:49 am

      Thanks Aparna: hope you’ll come back and visit again!
      I wiki’d sussex pond and it seems like the sussex pond is due to the origin of the dessert near sussex, england. the pond part is because the lemon/butter pours out once you cut the dessert forming a pond…. which it does very dramatically actually!

  19. May 3, 2010 3:19 am

    I found the steaming a little stressful too, but the outcome looks lovely! Love the idea of a pudding with a whole fruit inside!

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