The moment I saw this challenge I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. Steamed pudding. As in British steamed pudding. Really? And get this. I was supposed to use SUET! Where would I find suet? A better question is, what exactly is suet?
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.
Esther explained on the Daring Bakers site that suet “is the hard but flaky fat found on the inside of a cow or sheep around the kidneys and that area of the body. Suet in its raw form crumbles easily into small chunks so much so that my butcher says it covers his floor in bits if he doesn’t have it taken out as soon as possible. In fact unless he knows he has a customer for it he has the abattoir take it out and throw it away and when I want some he gives it to me for free! It also melts at quite a low temperature, which has an effect on how it works in cooking. In some places such as the UK it is sold processed which basically means it is grated and combined with flour to keep the individual pieces from clumping together, and it becomes a sort of dried out short strands, almost granular in texture.”
I’m pretty sure that I didn’t follow all the rules of this challenge. I didn’t use suet. I used butter. My pudding did not have a crust with filling. It was more like a cake with fruit topping. I did not use a traditional pudding mold. I just used a bowl. I did, however, steam my pudding just as instructed. So, if I failed in all other categories, at least I did one thing right.
There are quite a few components to this dessert, and trying to complete them all AND steam the pudding in one evening after you’ve gotten home from work and cooked dinner isn’t exactly easy. I was a bit frazzled, as my husband will attest to. But everything worked out and we ate pudding at 9:30pm last night. The final product was worth the work and the wait.
The flavors are quite autumnal; caramelized apples, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and molasses. Despite this I had absolutely no problem enjoying this dessert in late April.
The first step is making caramel and pouring it in to the bottom of your dish.
Then you create an applesauce using half of your chopped apples, sugar and spices.
Next, sauté the other half of the apples in a little butter and sugar. These apples go on top of the caramel.
The applesauce you made earlier gets mixed into your cake batter and spread on top of the apples.
I didn’t make any changes to the ingredients. I did have to make do with the baking vessels I owned. A pudding mold is not something I have in my kitchen, and I probably never will. In a search for pudding mold substitutes I discovered that I could use any kind of bowl that would be safe to sit in simmering water for close to 2 hours. Most of my glass bowls were too wide to fit inside my largest pot. So, I was forced to use a 2 quart Corningware casserole. It was a bit too small for all the filling, so I had to use about 3/4 of a cup less batter than the recipe made.
When it came time to lower this into the pot of simmering water I realized that this task could not be accomplished unless I had something to help me lower the bowl without burning myself.
As advised by Esther, I made a handle out of kitchen twine and used that to lower the bowl and then to remove it after cooking.
This made my life much easier than it would have been if I’d tried to use my hands or a variety of utensils. I highly recommend this if you do not have a pudding mold with a lid and handle.
Here is the pudding after its 1 hour and 40 minute steam. Thanks to my trusty twine handle, it was a cinch to remove. I was worried that it would still be gooey in the middle since it is hard to tell by looking if it is baked through. Thankfully it was perfect, and came out of the bowl without any issues. Isn’t it just beautiful? The apple chunks on top covered in caramel are so pretty and mouth watering. I couldn’t wait to dig in.
If I had been really on top of things, I would have served this with fresh whipped cream. Not being prepared, I only had Cool Whip to serve along side the warm pudding, so that is what I used.
The pudding by itself doesn’t really need a dollop of anything though. The caramel apple topping is delectable, and the soft pudding below is delicious and full of spice. Altogether yummy.
Thank you again, Daring Bakers (and Esther!), for making me bake something I would never have thought to try otherwise. And, to be quite honest, I kinda thought I was going to hate it. How wrong I was. The results were delicious!
Steamed Caramel Apple Pudding
- 4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1/2 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 9 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup bread crumbs (I used panko)
- Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a small, heavy saucepan; set over medium heat. Cover, and cook until sugar has melted. Remove cover, and continue cooking, swirling pan occasionally, until sugar turns a deep amber. Carefully pour caramel into pudding mold; tip so caramel coats mold evenly. Set mold aside.
- Place half of the apple chunks in a small saucepan, and add 2 tablespoons water, 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Place saucepan over low heat, and cook, covered, until apples fall apart, 10 to 12 minutes. Uncover, and cook 5 minutes more, stirring often. Set the applesauce aside.
- Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small saute pan; add remaining apple chunks and remaining 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. Cook over medium-high heat until apples turn brown on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes. Place apples in the bottom of the mold, distributing evenly so they reach up the sides.
- Choose a pot large enough to hold the pudding mold with a 2-inch space all around. Place a wire rack or a folded kitchen towel in the bottom of pot; fill with enough water to reach halfway up sides of mold. Cover pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together 8 tablespoons butter and brown sugar. Add the eggs and molasses; mix well. Add the reserve applesauce, and mix well.
- In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; stir in breadcrumbs. Add to the applesauce mixture. Stir batter until just combined.
- Fill pudding mold with batter; clamp on lid. Place mold in a pot of simmering water. Cover pot, and cook until a toothpick inserted into middle of pudding comes out clean, about 1 hour 40 minutes. Check water often, keeping it at a steady, low simmer. Transfer mold to a wire rack to cool, 15 minutes.
- When ready to serve, invert the pudding onto a serving plate. If any of the apple chunks stick to the mold, remove them, and rearrange them on the top; slice.