Autumn has descended upon the Apple Chapel. The early mornings have a nip in the air, the evenings are inching in and the lights are going on not long after dinner of an evening time. All around us, russet, golden and ochre shades of leaves fall to the ground from the many trees which envelope and hide our home from direct view. Appropriate clothes to walk to work in the early morning chill then back home of a late afternoon in the remains of this year’s warm sun is a daily battle. Although I won’t complain too loudly whilst the sun still shines. I’ve pulled my favourite cook books off my shelves to help me celebrate the change in season, not mourn the loss of the summer and of course, it wouldn’t be right to wait a moment longer to rejoice in a harvest of beautiful British Bramley apples which come into season at this exact point in the calendar. As nature has it, walnuts also come into season with the Bramleys and when paired with rich caramelised condensed milk in the form of a Ye Olde steamed pudding, you have a warm, comforting cuddle in a bowl.
It’s hard to contemplate a more comforting pudding than a steamed one. Reassuringly old fashioned, simple in technique but crowd pleasing in appearance. This particular one is especially nostalgia evoking as it uses a tin of condensed milk which has been boiled until its contents turn into super thick, velvety, silky smooth luscious caramel. Or dulce de leche, which is quite simply my idea of heaven. Having recently discovered you can do this on the low and slow in one’s slow cooker I fear I will forever have a can of the evil stuff on the go. I think I should throw my size zero* dress in the bin as I ain’t never going to be able to wear it again 😉 (*=size 0 from Ted Baker, aka not a real zero lol). You can absolutely buy a can of it already caramelised if you are short of time. Caramel of any sort is welcome in this pud in whatever guise you like; it’s just that I love the creaminess, almost molten fudge texture you get from caramelised condensed milk that you can’t get with even homemade butterscotch sauce, as much as I love that too. Have I mentioned my love of caramel before? It’s a deeply held passion
The gentle cooking leaves you with stewed chunks of apple which lend their juice to the caramel enrobing them within the basin and being Bramleys (or Brambleys as me and The Hungry One call them), they soften to the point you could easily squash them with your spoon as you eat. The walnuts have that gentle bitterness which makes me think of wintery days walking through parks with a carpet of crispy fallen leaves at my feet, swishing mine and Hungry Hubby’s hands whilst wearing warm coats with the collars up. Those days will be upon us soon. With all that sweetness from the sauce, the woodsy note from the nuts helps ground the flavour of this bake. Give it another dimension. If you wanted to try a version replacing the caramel with maple syrup and the walnuts with pecans, please invite me ’round and we can compare notes.
- 1 large Bramley apple, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
- 4 tbsp caramelised condensed milk*
- 50g walnuts, chopped
- 125g might muscovado sugar
- 150g soft butter
- 3 small eggs (or 2 large)
- 140g self raising flour
- *=or use a jarred dulce de leche sauce or homemade/store bought butterscotch sauce. Pick a thick and rich one. You can caramelise a can of condensed milk by simmering in a pan covered with water in a pan on the stove for 2-3 hours (always ensure the pan is topped up with plenty of water) or in a slow cooker for 6-8 hours. Ensure it is unopened and never, ever try and open it until cold to prevent explosion!
- Grease a pudding basin (mine measures 16cm across the top) with butter and put 2tbsp of your caramel in the bottom of the basin. Top with 2 tbsp of the nuts. Pack your apples in then coat with another 2 tbsp of the caramel. A bit more wouldn’t hurt anyone 😉
- Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and then beat your eggs in well.
- Sieve over your flour and fold in with the remaining walnuts. It will be a stiff mixture. Top the apples with the sponge mix.
- Take a square of foil and a piece of grease proof a few inches bigger than your basin and fold a pleat down the centre. Brush with melted butter or spray with oil on the paper side then fold it this side on on around the pudding basin. Take a long length of string and tie the foil and paper on firmly, using the length to create a handle by looping from one side to the other, tying with a secure knot so you can get it out of the pan easily when cooked.
- Pop in a deep saucepan which is a snug fit for your pudding. Pour in boiling water to just over half way up the sides and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for approximately 2 hours until the top has risen up and pushed the pleat apart a little and when you press with a tea towel covered finger (it will be very hot) it will spring back in the centre. If it doesn’t, give it another 10 minutes of steaming and check again.
- As you will have about half a tin of condensed milk caramel left, you can warm it through to serve with the pudding or save it to make another. Serve with vanilla ice cream (Hungry Hubby’s favourite), cold double cream (mine) or custard (most of the rest of the steamed pudding loving world’s favourite accompaniment). I won’t judge you if you chose more than one topping… 😉