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Steamed puddings have been around for centuries, and can be made as a sponge mixture or with suet.  The cooking is done on top of the stove slowly and gently which makes for a lighter sponge result.  Although they were originally cooked in an animal’s intestine, things have moved on and exceptionally good results can be achieved by steaming the mixture in a pudding basin with a lid.

The basic ingredients for the golden syrup steamed sponge pudding are;  eggs, butter, sugar and flour.  Exactly the same as in a Victoria Sponge.   The only difference is the result.  The slow gentle steam cooking produces the most beautiful, light, moist, airy and delicate sponge.  The added golden syrup gives a luxurious golden crown of a deep sweet flavour.

Unlike the oven which cooks the Victorian Sponge mixture at 190C the sponge pudding is cooked at 100C, this allows all the moisture to be kept in.  I admit to waxing a little lyrical about this pudding but it deserves favour, it really does.  It doesn’t feature at the dinner table that often these days and yet it is a simple and comforting pudding.

The simplicity of this recipe is in the ingredients and the formula – I love recipes with formulae.

Weigh two eggs with shell on and whatever the weight – measure equal weights of flour, sugar and butter and that is the recipe.  The only other ingredients are the crowing glory or the golden syrup and a little milk which is added to the sponge mixture to loosen it to a dropping consistency.  The mixture is put into a buttered pudding basin with the syrup and steamed for 1 1/2 hours.  It can be served with either cream or custard.

Steamed pudding may have been around for centuries but the golden syrup pudding has only been around since 1881.  The recipe was originated by Abram Lyle to promote his ‘goldie’ sales and proved to be incredibly popular in Victorian times.

Abram Lyle was a canny Scotsman who realised that to really succeed he needed to open a sugar refinery in London.  So he sent his sons down to set up a refinery in Plaistow by the river Thames.  Refining cane sugar produced a waste of liquid sucrose but Lyle discovered that instead of throwing it away he could make it into a golden syrup which was known as  ‘goldie’. Later it was to be named Golden Syrup.  Today the factory still remains in Plaistow and produces 20 thousand tons of golden syrup a year.

What makes this syrup even more special is that not only does it have the Royal warrant but the original packaging that Abram Lyle himself designed has not changed, making it the world’s oldest brand packaging.  The only time the packaging changed was during World War 1 when metal was scarce and strong cardboard had to be used.  A product that even with the strange brand label of a dead lion with a swarm of bees has stood the test of time.

Golden Syrup Steamed Pudding

Ingredients

2 eggs

Weight of the 2 eggs in their shell of:

Butter

Caster Sugar

Self raising flour

a little milk (approx couple of tablespoons)

3-6 tbs Lyle’s Golden Syrup

Butter to grease the pudding basin.

Method

Use a little knob of butter to grease the inside of the pudding basin this will help the pudding to turn out easily once cooked.

Depending on your taste drop into the bottom of the pudding basin between 3-6 tablespoons of golden syrup.  (I use 6)

In a bowl beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg whole with 1 tablespoon of the flour and beat until combined.  Repeat with the second egg.  Fold in the flour until combined.  Add a little milk and stir in.  The mixture needs to be of a dropping consistency.

Drop the mixture on top of the golden syrup leveling out before placing the lid on. It should come to about half way up the basin.

In a pan place an upturned saucer or a trivet and place the pudding basin on top.  (It must not sit on the bottom of the pan)

Fill the pan with water to at least half way up the side of the pudding basin.  Bring to a gentle boil and then turn down to a simmer and place a pan lid on for 1 1/2 hours.  After this time the sponge should be cooked.  Gently remove and with a knife loosen the pudding from the side of the basin.  Place a plate on top and turn over.  The pudding should come out as one.

Serve immediately with lashings of custard or cream.

Will serve 6 but for a more generous helping it serves 4.  I tend to make it for 2 and the remains are heated up in the microwave the following day.

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I can’t remember a Christmas Day meal when there hasn’t been a Christmas pudding served.  As a child I would always feel the pudding was the anti-climax of the whole day, as it was my least favorite of the Christmas fare, not being a big fan of anything that contained dried fruit.  The only reason I eagerly agreed to a slice, was the hope of winning the hidden gold coin.  My mother would always put a gold sovereign in the pudding.  Over the years it dawned on me that this task was always done in the kitchen, followed by the warm brandy being poured over with my mother carrying it to the table before setting light to it.  The concentration my mother exerted over this task was not the fear of dropping the said pudding but to keep a vigilant eye on where the sovereign was embedded.    It has taken many years to realise the whole thing was fixed and my chances of ever winning the much sought after coin were nil.  My mother like a magician had full control of where the coin was and who would win it.  Trusted family members and my father were high on the list.  Needless to say, after the meal, the coin would be whisked away, and no doubt put in a safe place until the following year.

My tastes have changed and matured over the years and I have perfected my own recipe, without suet.   This makes the pudding much lighter.  Instead of the traditional brandy butter I prefer a large  helping of clotted cream  Gold sovereigns are not so plentiful these days so I have replaced it with silver sixpences which I have no idea where in the pudding it is and who ever wins them gets to keep them.  I wrap each one is silver foil for hygiene and push them into the pudding just before serving, and each year there is a fresh batch of coins.

Christmas pudding

I usually make this around September to give it time to mature but I have also left it the week before Christmas.

Ingredients

50 gm/2 oz blanched almonds

50 gm/2 oz walnuts

50 gm/2 oz brazil nuts

75 gm/3 oz carrots

75 gm/3 oz pitted no soak prunes

125 gm/4 oz butter

1 lemon

125 gm/4oz soft dark brown sugar

2 eggs beaten

350 gm/12 oz mixture of seedless raisins, currants and sultanas (I don’t always put 125 gm/4 oz of each in I sometimes put more of one fruit depending what I have in the cupboard, as long as the total weight is 350 gm).

25 gm/ 1 oz chopped glace cherries

50 gm/ 2 oz fresh brown breadcrumbs

125 gm/ 4 oz wholemeal plain flour

50 gm/ 2 oz white plain flour

15ml/ 1 level tablespoon mixed ground spice

200 ml/ 7 floz Guinness

30 ml/ 2 tbs brandy

30 ml/ 2 level tbs black treacle (leave a tablespoon in a cup of boiling water before measuring out, the treacle will slip off the spoon).

Method

  1. Roughly chop all the nuts, either in a food processor or by hand.  Coarsely grate the carrots and cut the prunes into small pieces, this is much easier to do if you use scissors.
  2. Beat the butter and lemon rind until soft then gradually beat in the sugar followed by the beaten eggs.  Mix in all the remaining ingredients and stir well.  At this point our family tradition is that each person comes and gives the pudding a stir and makes a wish.  When the stirring is complete cover and leave in a cool place overnight – NOT the fridge.
  3. The following day grease a 2 ½ – 2 ¾ pint (1.4-1.6 litre) heatproof pudding basin this is to make it easier for the pudding to come out after cooking.  Beat the pudding mixture again and spoon it into the basin.  To cover, cut a piece of grease proof paper and a piece of foil, place these on top of each other and fold a central pleat down the centre, place this over the top of the pudding and tie securely. After years of struggling with bits of string slipping, I like to use a strong elastic band.
  4. Steam the pudding for about 6 hours in a large saucepan filled with enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the basin.  Do not stand the basin directly in the pan put it on top of an upturned plate, – cover and boil for about 4 hours, checking that the water has not boiled dry and if needed top up with boiling water from the kettle (as I like to make several pudding I use my fish kettle).  When done cool the pudding completely and re-cover the basin with fresh greaseproof paper and foil securing with a fresh elastic band and refrigerate for up to 2 months.  Some say that left in a cool place the pudding will last from one year to the next.  Although its not essential (but it adds to the whole Christmas traditional theme) I cover the cooked pudding when cooled with a square of muslin tied with a handle so its easy on Christmas day to put into the steamer and lift out but this is optional.
  5. On the day of eating, steam the pudding for about 3 hours, then turn out onto a warm serving plate.  Warm about 60 ml/ 4 tbs brandy in a small saucepan and pour over the pudding and set alight. The warming helps the brandy to light.  Depending on the year I sometimes dispense with the flaming brandy and replace it with sparklers or an indoor fountain firework.  These last a little bit longer.  The pudding can be served with either brandy butter, brandy cream or my choice of clotted cream.

If there is any pudding left over, I wrap it up in silver foil and put it in the fridge until Boxing day when we slice it up and  warm it through by putting a generous amount of butter into a frying pan and frying it.  Again served with some clotted cream.

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