When I was a kid, a Steamed Pudding made a regular appearance at our dinner table on Sundays, along with its good friends' custard and cream. So why did Steamed Pudding fall from favour? Because in a 2-minute noodle world they took an hour or so to cook? Because the aluminium pudding steamers we all used to cook them gave us dementia? I forget. Maybe we just stopped sitting down together for Sunday dinners?
Whatever the reason, the steamed pudding is a dish whose time has surely come again. Good food is good food and it rises above fashion much like a pudding in a basin. It feeds and speaks to our comfort genes like a warm blanket and a pair of slippers. A tummy full of steamed pudding sets the world to rights.
With this in mind one chilly winter some years back, the team here at Country Trading started a Pudding Club. Before you jump to conclusions, no I didn't know that phrase has an entirely different meaning to folks of a certain era. If you don't know, go ask your Gran, I'm not going to enlighten you here.
Knowing there is nothing like a bit of friendly competition to eke out the best recipes, we set about restoring the humble pud to its former glory. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it and we felt we were up to the challenge.
Pudding Club proceedings culminated in a Pudding Evening at the historic Moutere Inn who kindly let us take over their kitchen for a night. The members of Pudding Club along with willing family and friends managed to get through no less than six different steamed puddings during a very memorable night. We all rolled home and swore off pudding for some time.
Download all our recipes here in the official Country Trading Co. Steamed Pudding Recipe Book.
If you fancy making a steamed pudding this winter here are a few tips and tricks and a recipe for one of the classics.
Top 5 Tips for Making the Perfect Steamed Pudding
A lot of recipe books are short on method for steamed pudding cooking as it was just something that all cooks knew how to do. Many books just give a name and a list of ingredients, suggesting that to offer a method was akin to describing how to butter toast. But times have changed and we're not all pudding queens - so here are our top tips for making the perfect steamed pudding:
- Grease the steamed pudding bowl well with butter all over the base and up the sides of the bowl before putting the batter in. This helps the pudding come away from the basin at the end of cooking when you turn the pudding out onto a plate. Don't use marg or oil thank you very much.
- Take the bowl and put it upside down on a sheet of greaseproof paper and cut a circle out to fit the top of the basin. Grease the paper circle with butter and place it gently, buttered side down, on the pudding batter before putting the lid on the pudding steamer. This keeps the pudding moist and stops it sticking to the lid or escaping should it rise too much.
- Most steamed puddings will nearly double in size during cooking so when you put your pudding batter in your steamed pudding bowl, make sure you have enough headroom.
- While you are preparing your pudding, put a large pot of water on the stove and bring it to a low rolling boil or a high simmer. Put enough water in the pot to come at least halfway up the pudding basin, but preferably threequarters. These puddings have long cooking times so check the water level once or twice and top it up with boiling water from the kettle if it looks to be getting low. The Scottish Women’s Institute 1938 Cookbook states that it is best to keep a pudding at a crisp boil and I have found this to be correct. If it is at a simmer or just hot, the pudding does not rise and fluff up and ends up stodgy.
- In our experience, recipes aren't that accurate with their cooking times, giving guidance like; “about an hour” when it’s closer to two. So to avoid eating raw cake batter, poke a skewer in the centre of the pudding. If it comes out clean or with crumbs on it the pudding is ready. If it comes out with gooey mixture on it then put the lid on and put it back in the pot of water. They are quite forgiving; it’s not like taking a sponge out of the oven. You can also tell if it’s cooked if the top of the pudding is firm and springy to touch and evenly risen with no sinkhole in the middle.
My dad’s favourite steamed pudding from a book Auntie Margie gave mum in 1963. The book was a fundraiser for the Ashburton Branch of the NZ Registered Nurses Assn (Inc.). I can still see the cover with the nurse in her white cap and red cape. This is a pudding to set you on the road back to good health if ever there was one. It is particularly fine with a good dollop of Edmonds Custard and a glug of cream.
- 1 good tablespoon(15 grams) butter
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 grated apple
- 1 heaped breakfast cup of flour
- 1 cup fruit, (half dates, half raisins)
- 1 good teaspoon baking soda
- Mix with milk till fairly soft
Put in greased pudding steamer. Steam for 1½ hours. Mum still makes it occasionally and says any leftovers (I don’t remember there being any) butter up nicely as a loaf when cold and the recipe also works made in deep muffin tins, baked at 180°C for 15-20 mins for individual puddings.
So there you have it, pudding eating is the pastime of choice in winter months here at the top of the South.