Really when first realised that Esther of The Lilac Kitchen wanted us to make a steamed pudding with suet I had two thoughts - steaming, well, that's nothing new and suet - what a heart clogging ingredient! I was almost tempted to opt out of this challenge. Probably this is my thought every time but never more so than this time. Being Australian, steamed puddings are quite normal at Christmas with many people still following British tradition. In fact I really enjoy a good Christmas plum pudding being first introduced to pudding when my widowed father remarried a lady of traditional British heritage. While cooking is not my stepmother's strong point her Christmas pudding is excellent. However it does not use suet and I was reluctant to use it for health reasons.
So, what is "suet". Suet is the raw beef fat from around the loins and kidneys of the beast. It has a low melting point but is solid at room temperature. Traditionally it is used in steamed pudding and in the pastry of steamed pudding such as steak and kidney pudding where the pastry lines the pudding bowl then is filled with meat and a lid of suet pastry seals the pudding. These puddings are generally steamed for three or four hours. You can read more about suet here.
Never would I have realised how foreign steaming a pudding seems to many people. Steamed puddings are generally steamed in a purpose made bowl which is covered with greased paper and foil and secured with kitchen string. The pudding is lowered into simmering water which should come halfway up the sides of the bowl. The bowl sits on a trivet, scrunched foil or even a folded tea towel int the pot so it does not come into contact with the direct heat. The pot is covered with the lid and the pudding allowed to steam for 3 or 4 hours as required. For detailed instructions follow this site.
I have to say our host Esther was very obliging and gave heaps of scope and options for those who chose not to use suet. To be honest I was only ever going to do one chocolate pudding using butter which would easily be enjoyed by the whole family.
Yes, it was enjoyed by everyone but I felt it was a little too chocolatey, dry and certainly could be improved. Here is the recipe if you would like to follow my journey.
While checking out other Daring Bakers completed puddings I was impressed with a particular steamed jam pudding by Renata Lacerda of Testado, Provado & Aprovado. Renata is a Brazilian currently living in South Korea and new to Daring Bakers. Renata's pudding looked like everything a steamed pudding should be - moist, dense and lusious!
Then I remembered the cute and colourful mini pudding bowls I had purchase recently while on holidays.
And my mind started to create and imagine possibilities and combinations.
The basic pudding mix I followed was:
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
5 tablespoons milk or more if required
Mixing all the ingredients for about 3 minutes in the stand mixer.
Then I divided the mixture into five equal portions.
Into the bottom of the first pudding bowl I arranged some candied kumquats and mixed a little of the chopped kumquats and a spoonful of kumquat liquer. Yes, we have an abundance of kumquats growing in our back yard at the moment.
Homemade mulberry jam spooned into the bottom of the next bowl topped off with the pudding mixture into which was stirred one tablespoon of almond meal.
Thinly sliced pineapple sat of top of a brown sugar and butter mix then was topped with the pudding mixture into which was stirred 1 tablespoon of dessicated coconut and a spoonful of white rum.
Of course, I had to satisfy my Nutella obsessed son by spooning Nutella into the bottom of the bowl and topping with pudding mixture into which was stirred 1 tablespoon of ground hazelnuts. YUM!
More brown sugar and butter into the bottom of the last bowl topped with walnuts and pudding mixture flavoured with a spoonful of extra strong coffee.
To steam the puddings I placed some scrunched foil in the bottom of my electric frying pan which was half filled with boiling water. Each pudding was covered with a square of silicone baking paper, then a square of foil and secured with kitchen string. Once the water in the frying pan was boiling I carefully place each pudding bowl securely onto the scrunched foil, covered with the lid and let them simmer for 45 minutes. Be sure to grease the pudding bowls well. I also put a circle of greased paper in the bottom of each bowl.
The puddings were lovely and every thing I wanted a steamed pudding to be though very delicate and didn't come out of the pudding bowls as easily as they should have. I have since discovered that the recipe acutally required 3 eggs and not just the one. Oh well!
In our hot tropical climate steaming for long periods of time is not generally the prefered method of cooking though I will continue to use this method for individual puddings which require less steaming time.
Thanks to our generous host Esther and be sure to check out Renata Lacerada, C Mom Cook and many other Daring Bakers who dared to complete the April Challenge!