Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Daring to do it: 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.

When I read this month’s challenge I was not sure how to feel... Excited, because I had never really thought of making an English pudding. This was something I read about in Harry Potter, or threatened Hubby with withholding a-la The Wall. If fact, I thought pudding was a dessert. Pretty much any dessert. You know, we Americans say “I made a cake for dessert,” I thought it was just a British term, where one would say “I made a cake for pudding.” So the opportunity to make something so new to me was really great. But then there was the part of me that was saying: “Suet? Like, that fatty stuff used in birdfeeders? Really? Really?!” Yes, really. Suet is actually the fat of choice in many (many!) traditional puddings. Now, being both Kosher and vegetarian, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to use real suet. Part of me was relieved about that... Part of me was a little disappointed to know from the get go that my pudding wouldn’t be “right.” Then I remembered – this is the DARING Baker’s challenge. The whole idea is to take an idea or a recipe and make it work for you in a way others might not necessarily think of! So I was back to being excited, and I was ready to embrace this challenge whole heartedly!
I was surprised to find out that there are actually two types of dishes being referred to when using the term “pudding.” The first type is a crust pudding, like a pie. These, from what I can see, are frequently (but not always) savory dishes. Steak and kidney pudding? Really like a pot pie with steak and kidneys. (Yet again, vegetarian/Kosher kitchen “limitations” meant I didn’t even consider this one!) The second type is a “sponge” pudding. This is like a cake. Both types of puddings, though, are cooked by being steamed. Other than vegetables, I don’t think I have ever steamed my food. And I know I had never steamed a dessert before! Yet again, this challenge was proving to be a learning experience, and I was psyched to dive in!
I started with a sponge pudding. It just seemed like it would be easier to me. Using the Pudding Club website Esther provided I found a recipe that looked irresistible (and not just to me – I think a lot of us daring bakers made this one...!): the Very Chocolate Pudding. I used margarine instead of butter, I added a little vanilla extract and cinnamon, and I only made a half batch, but this was AMAZING. Since I don’t have a proper steamer, nor do I have proper pudding basins, I improvised using my biggest pot, my steamer basket and some individual sized Pyrex dishes. The steaming process made this an extremely moist cake, and I knew right then that this was a process I would be using again! I just didn’t know how quickly that “again” would be! Two days later a friend came over for lunch. I decided to make a pudding for dessert! I again made a half batch, but this time I improvised the flavorings. I used the proportions from the chocolate pudding, but used brown sugar, vanilla extract and no chocolate. I put strawberry jam on the bottom of my dish instead of chocolate chips, too. Like the chocolate pudding, this one was REALLY good! There were no leftovers... Again, I thought to myself that this was going to be a keeper!
Now that I felt comfortable with pudding and with steaming I knew I should tackle a crust dish. I have made veggie pot pies before, I figured this would be similar. It was, but it was still different enough to stand out. Since I couldn’t use suet I used vegetable shortening. The crust recipe given was very similar to “my” pie crust recipe, but with a slightly higher proportion of shortening to flour. I figured this was to accommodate the steaming process, so I made sure to stick with that. I also used part whole wheat flour, just because I like whole wheat! I actually made two puddings from this... the second was small, though... I had to make one for Little Girl! The “grown up” pudding had carrot, rutabaga, broccoli, zucchini, lentils and saut√©ed onions and garlic. Little Girl’s pudding had carrot, lentils and sweat peas. It turned out that my biggest pot was not big enough to steam my big pudding! I used my slow cooker this time, and improvised a “handle” for the bowl using some extra yarn. I also made gravy to serve with the pudding; unlike a pot pie, the pudding filling was just the vegetables, with a little bit of egg to bind things together. I made the gravy with some of the vegetable stock I had made for the Brunswick Stew earlier in the month. It turned out great! Even the leftovers were delicious!








So thank you, Esther, for introducing us silly Americans to new ideas and methods! I never would have tried this were it not for this challenge, and I am really excited to puddings – both savory and sweet, to my kitchen repertoire! I already have ideas for more puddings I want to try… Now that is a sign of a great challenge!!

18 comments:

  1. mmm chocolat chips
    I really like what you did with the recipe.

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  2. Well done! All of them are really nice and must've been delicious!Well done!

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  3. Now I feel all inspired to do a crust one - I love pie but was running a bit late so I went with the pud but this looks great!

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  4. WOW from your posting your really have found a new technique for baking (steaming LOL LOL)!!! Your puddings sound like they went down like a bomb (this means a good thing) and no leftovers that is always a good sign. Superb work on this challenge and great that you will did doing it again. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia. Lovely series of photos also.

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  5. I'm really impressed with your improvisation....well done!

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  6. Wow, well done for this month challenge, all of your version look wonderful.

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  7. Your puddings look great! I too, after reading the descriptions in the challenge, thought that anything can be called a pudding if you make it in a pudding dish. Nice job on the challenge, and even branching out and experimenting with the recipes!

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  8. These all look amazing! Great job!!

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  9. Great job with the challenge! I also loved the chocolate pudding.

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  10. Yummy!! I will definitely try the chocolate pudding from the pudding club!

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  11. Wow! You went all out on this challenge! The second looks like the yummiest pot pie!

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  12. Your improvisations all look absolutely good. Glad to meet a fellow vegetarian Daring Baker too. :)

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  13. Wow! It sounds delicious! I was too afraid to try and work with suet, but it really looks yummy.

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  14. Well done! All of your puddings look wonderful - and while I don't know when I will try it, I definitely want to try the chocolate. The "pot pie" puddings look very good as well. Nice job on the challenge!

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  15. Wow - you really went all out. I'm impressed! Nice blog too - I love reading other "mommy blogs". I'm going to try to get up the nerve to try your challuh recipe...I've always wanted to master bread but am apprehensive about yeasted goods. Yours looks amazing!

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  16. Chocolate and cinnamon - what a wonderfully fragrant combination for a pudding!! As for jam puds - they are my favourite!!

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  17. Wow, you really tried them all! I really like the look of your savoury puddings - I'll be sure to give those a try someday. Great job on the challenge, Ruth!

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