Puddings, and steamed puddings in particular, are not cooked that much anymore. The texture can scare people. Suet turns people off, too, and so I have left it out of this recipe. Puddings can also take longer to cook than other desserts, which makes people wary of them. But I think they’re worth it.
The thing I grew up eating was roly-poly, which is a suet pudding spread with jam and rolled up. The other thing I remember as a kid is golden syrup dumplings, which we serve in the pub now. The dumplings are a simple batter made from flour, butter, eggs and milk. I use self-raising flour to make the dumplings lighter and a bit fluffy. Rolled into balls, they are simmered in golden syrup, water and butter. They cook quickly, in about 15 to 20 minutes. I bake them in the oven, fitted snugly into a pan. The other thing you can do with them is take the dumpling and push a nugget of chocolate or a piece of banana into the centre before cooking.
Increasingly, the word pudding denotes sweet preparations, but historically puddings were savoury. Steak and kidney puddings were steamed. And there are Yorkshire puddings and black pudding. Another great old-fashioned recipe is a Sussex Pond pudding. Line a pudding form with an unsweetened suet dough and fill it with a pound (450 grams) of brown sugar, a pound of butter and a whole lemon, pulling the dough over so it is folded and sealed on top. Steam for three to four hours, then serve whole at the table. When the pudding is cut open, the slurry of lemon and brown sugar comes pouring out. At this point it strongly resembles the scum on the top of the Sussex Pond, hence the name.
I’ve used a similar recipe to steam lamb and leak in a crust, which comes up beautifully.
My ginger pudding calls for candied stem ginger as well as ground ginger to give it a bit of punch. The best candied ginger, I find, is available from Chinese grocers. It is a bit stronger. In this recipe, the ginger is diced and put into the pudding. I suggest any leftover syrup be reserved and poured over the puddings once they are steamed.
The recipe is dead simple. Actually, even cooking the pudding a little longer than recommended can improve it. The flavour develops, as does the texture.
No sweet pudding is complete without custard. The traditional custard is made from a packet. However, I would suggest, for this recipe, using raw ingredients: fresh vanilla beans and free-range eggs. If you are a traditionalist, I recommend Bird’s.
This great but simple winter pudding can be steamed as individual servings or as one large pudding.
–2 tbsp sugar
– 2 tbsp brown sugar
– 125g butter, at room temperature
– 2 eggs
– 225g self-raising flour
– 2 tsp ground ginger
– 1 tsp ground cinnamon
– ½ tsp ground allspice
– ¼ tsp ground clove
– 2/3 cup milk
– 150g candied stem ginger, diced
– syrup reserved from the jar of candied stem ginger
Beat the sugars and butter in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until well incorporated.
Mix the spices and flour together and add to the batter in two parts, alternating with the milk. Lastly, stir through the diced ginger.
Butter and flour eight dariole moulds and divide the pudding batter between them.
Wrap the moulds tightly in cling film and then tin foil.
Place in a steamer and steam over a high heat for 25 minutes. (If you are making one large pudding, you will need to steam it for one hour.)
Let them sit for five minutes before uncovering.
Serve straight away with a jug of custard and any excess syrup from the candied ginger.
– 200ml cream
– 200ml milk
– ½ vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
– 3 yolks
– 40g sugar
In a stainless-steel saucepan, warm the cream, milk, vanilla bean and seeds to just under a simmer.
Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl, then slowly whisk the hot cream into the mixture.
Pour the custard back into the pot and cook over a low heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
Remove from the heat and strain through a fine sieve.
Campbells Liquid Gold Classic Topaque NV, Rutherglen, Vic (500ml, $40) – Leanne Altman, sommelier, Supernormal.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on May 31, 2014 as "Head up of steam". Subscribe here.