Sweet, sticky, warming, rib-sticking, comforting nursery food of my childhood day dreams. Yes, I’m talking about steamed pudding. How could I be meaning anything else? As a wee tot my nan would make steamed golden syrup puddings as a rare treat (pudding was not a regular feature in Casa Cranny) and I would sit in one of our burgundy leather armchairs with a bowl (usually my Peter Rabbit one) and spoon in sweet mouthfuls in slowly, to savour every last mouthful.
I’m sure I’ve never ate a steamed pud with a single other thought in my head, save the one that I’m sure this is the most perfect form of pudding that has ever graced English homes across the land. However, that was back in my pre-18 years when I was training very hard at ballet training everyday and was going the gym for someone like 10 hours a week – these days, though my love of the pud has not diminished, my ability to burn it off has dulled somewhat!
Imagine the tears of joy when I discovered a “healthy” steamed pudding and one which, I promise, tastes every mouthful naughty and unctuous, not one bit virtuous and self righteous! This was that very pud…
This towering, orange bejewelled offering is that very pud and comes to you from a rather contentious book in that it divides opinion to those willing to try anything once and those a bit terrified of what they behold in the ingredients list. I could be talking of none other than Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache by Harry Eastwood.
Harry is a hopeless romantic and clearly a bit of a daydreamer (anyone who knows me will realise I consider her somewhat of a kindred spirit of mine!) who adores cake and wanted to find a way to get it into her life in the healthiest way she could imagine. So she reduced the sugar, swapped plain for rice flour and most controversial of all, she swapped butter for …. vegetables. Oh yes she did!
And I can’t get enough of her, this book and the wondrous cakes and bakes that come from its fairytale-like illustrated pages. Now I may have written down the wrong veg for this particular pudding so I used grated parsnip rather than turnip (I mustn’t be the only Northerner whom uses these two names synonymously?!) but I truly, madly, deeply promise you do not taste “parsnip”.
You taste a moist, unctuous, orange perfumed and muskily cardamom studded pudding fit for angels to guzzle on not-so-much reinforced clouds! Based on the success of this pud (only 220 calories a portion) I created my own version – a stem ginger pud which you can bake or steam, using butternut squash in place of butter! Let’s begin with a rhapsody of orange…
Lemon zest tempers the sweet and is essential in ginger puddings to me. As for the stem ginger – look at that almost glass-like, almost jelly-like consistency with a haunting ochre glow. Big love to the humble ginger root!
I like to add ground ginger which brings warming spice and heat – you could use a tablespoon if you’re a ginger addict like me. I’ve not stipulated so much in the recipe to follow – perhaps you’d like to add other spices and that’s more than fine by me 🙂
As there is no butter to cream in this recipe, you whisk up the eggs and sugar to make a mousse to which you fold in the remaining ingredients before pouring into your pudding basin which has been buttered, drizzled with the syrup from your stem ginger jar and encrusted with some of the latter finely chopped to help with that sticky “jammy” layer on the top of your pud.
Now here is where I get even more renegade – having bought a rice cooker pot which can go in the oven from my friend’s Jamie At Home party, I decided to make my pud in it for its maiden voyage. It worked a treat so I have included the method in my recipe but also, I’ve included the method for making a steamed version as this undoubtedly makes a moister, lighter version although this baked one is almost indistinguishable from its more traditional counterpart. Here is the proof.
A flaming sunset of a pud, just look at that colour! The butternut has offered up all it’s orangeness long with the baking process concentrating the ginger syrup into this almost day-glow dessert. Let’s see inside too…
Moist through and through – both the vegetable quotient and the ground almonds provide the luscious texture you see before you. Honestly, look beyond the apparent “weirdness” of this recipe and just give it a try, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Harry challenges how we think about the sweet treats in our life and has researched each and every item and made sure it’s as good as can be before publishing her book (which I adore, had you not already noticed that!) and if I can convert just one reader with this post, I’ll be one happy bunny boo.
Time for one last shot before you can get your hands on Harry’s orange pud and my ginger one – for what is a steamed pud without a river of custard (Bird’s Custard Powder custard, for full nostalgic effect) surrounding its golden peaks 🙂
Orange & Cardamom Steamed Pudding
- 3 large eggs
- 200 g caster sugar
- 200 g finely grated parsnip
- Zest of 2 oranges then finely peel & slice one
- Bashed seeds of 10 cardamom pods
- 2 tbsp runny hunny
- 150 g rice flour
- 50 g ground almonds
- 2 tsp baking powder
- Pinch salt
Grease a 2 litre pudding basin with a little butter - if it comes with a lid, butter that too, if not, make one by taking a square of grease proof and a piece of foil the same size; fold a pleat 1-2 inches deep right across the middle of these two together then grease the paper side and set aside for now.
Whisk eggs and sugar together until thick, pale and frothy - at least 4 mins high speed whisking.
Whisk in the parsnip, zest and cardamom seeds (discard the pods and bash the seeds only in a mortar and pestle) until just combined.
Fold in the flour, almonds, baking powder and salt.
Drizzle the honey into the bottom of your pudding basin.
Pop as many orange slice as you like in the base of your basin, arranging prettily as they will be the decoration when you turn the pudding out.
Carefully spoon in the batter then take your lid (if using paper and foil, pop it on top of the pud, maintaining the pleat and tieing securely with string; crimp up the foil around the neck of the basin so water can't hitch a ride up it into your pud).
Pop the lot in a large, deep saucepan and fill it with boiling water to come only to about 1-2 inches below the foil.
Cook on the hob at a steady not violent simmer for 90 minutes, checking that the pan hasn't boiled dry at intervals.
Remove and allow to stand for a mere 5 minutes with the lid removed then invert into a plate with a lip to catch any honey trying to escape and serve in slices with lots of custard .
Adapted from Harry Eastwood of Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache fame
Stem Ginger Pudding
- 200 g raw butternut finely grated
- Zest of a lemon finely grated
- 3 balls of stem ginger finely chopped
- 4-6 tbsp syrup from stem ginger jar
- 3 large eggs
- 200 g golden caster sugar
- 150 g rice flour or plain
- 50 g ground almonds
- 2 tsp baking powder
- Pinch salt
- 2 rounded tsp ground ginger
- Butter to grease
Beat eggs and sugar on medium-high speed until thick, pale and frothy.
Whisk in the butternut, lemon zest and 2/3 of the stem ginger.
Butter a 2 litre pudding basin (or your Jamie At Home Really Useful Rice Cooker, or similar ovenproof pot!) and sprinkle on the remaining chopped stem ginger followed by the syrup.
Whisk the dry ingredients together briefly then fold into the egg and butternut mixture.
Carefully pour into your pot/basin trying not to splash the syrup about too much.
Cover with the lid or make one out of a square of grease proof paper and the same size in a piece of foil; pleat along the middle then tie around the neck of the pot with string to fasten it.
Now you have two choices - either put your ovenproof pot in an oven preheated to 200˚C and bake for approx 1 hour checking after 45 minutes for doneness.
OR! Pop your covered pudding basin in a deep saucepan and then pour in boiling water to come to about 2 inches below the lid (made by you or supplied with your pot); cook at a steady simmer for 90 minutes, topping up with water as necessary.
Either way, when cooked remove whatever lid you have used and loosen the edges of the pudding gently with a thin plastic spatula or knife if you need to.
Invert the pudding onto a shallow dish or plate with a lip then slice and serve (with custard 😉 ).
This freezes very well - just wrap individual portions in foil well before freezing. I don't have a microwave so defrost cakes by popping them on a plate over a bowl of just boiled water for 30 minutes, turning over once or twice to ensure it is fully defrosted - I sometimes pop them in the oven for 5 -10 minutes on a low heat if I want them hot but often I don't, and just serve with piping hot custard instead. Do feel free to defrost how you see fit!
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