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.
Saskia and I were excited about the prospect of making a traditional British pudding and were quite familiar with the, shall we say, challenging aspects of using suet, thanks to Saskia’s Christmas pudding.
We were given quite a bit of latitude as to what type of pudding to make and our first port of call was the fabulous Mrs Beeton. Mrs Beeton wrote her Book of Household Management in 24 Monthly Parts from 1859–1861. It covers everything from how to deal with your housekeeper, cook, kitchen-maid, butler, footman, coachman and maids to cookery, medical issues and legal issues. Mrs Beeton’s book is such a book of it’s time, there is a real emphasis on frugality – most recipes include very few ingredients, some recipes are marked as ‘simple family recipes’ and the recipe includes an estimate as to how expensive it will be to make (for reference, our pudding would cost approximately 10d. I’m not sure what this equates to, but the d is short for a denarius which is less than 1 shilling). Interestingly, the book does not provide a lot of details regarding exact quantities or method, which I would attribute to the fact that at the time, women (and it would be women) probably had a better base knowledge than we do today. It is well worth a read and the entire Book of Household Management is available online.
We settled upon the steamed apple pudding and put aside some time over the Easter weekend to prepare and steam the pudding. We decided to actually make the pudding on Easter Sunday as we were having a sit-down lunch with friends. Unfortunately, this meant that almost all of the shops were closed, and those that were open did not carry suet. We decided to make do, and instead used the butter pastry from Mrs Beeton’s book instead.
The pudding was reasonably easy to make and our friends were suitably impressed that we had made a pudding from Mrs Beeton. As an aside, Saskia and I thought it was pretty amusing that we were making a pudding from the 1800s the very same weekend that we also made preserved tomatoes . I guess we should have just darned some socks as well while we were at it!
All in all, it was an enjoyable challenge and I am happy that we could do Mrs Beeton proud. The pudding pastry itself was a little bland (I have included some sugar in the recipe below, which was not in the original recipe) and the pastry had a slightly odd consistency, which may be due to the fact that it was made with spelt flour due to my dietary requirements. I don’t imagine I will be making it again, but at least now I know how to make a traditional steamed pudding! Thanks to Esther for the challenge!
Boiled apple pudding
For the butter crust
450g flour (or 540g if using spelt flour)
170g butter (very cold)
3 tbs caster sugar
For the pudding
4 apples, pared, cored, and cut into slices
4 tbs sultanas
4 tbs caster sugar
1 tsp grated lemon rind
2 tbs lemon juice
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
- With a knife, work the flour and sugar to a smooth paste with the water.
Transfer the pastry to the bench and form it into a ball.
Roll the pastry until it is thin, place a couple of tablespoons of butter over it in small pieces:
Lightly cover with additional flour, then fold the pastry over again.
Roll the pastry out thinly again and repeat adding the butter and flour. Continue until all the butter is used.
Roll the pastry over your rolling pin and transfer to the pudding dish:
- Trim the edges, there should be a lot of pastry left over for the lid.
- Add the apples, sultanas, sugar, lemon rind and juice and spices:
- Cover with a layer of pastry and pinch the edges together tightly.
- Place a layer of kitchen paper over the pudding, then wrap in aluminium foil.
- Using kitchen string, tie the cloth and foil to the pudding bowl and make a loop so that the pudding can be easily removed from the steaming basin:
- Place an upturned bowl (we used a tart tin) inside a large saucepan. The pudding will sit on the upturned bowl.
- Put the large saucepan on the stove on low heat. Place the pudding in the large saucepan and carefully pour in boiling water, cover with the lid.
- Let the pudding steam for between 1.5 and 2.5 hours. Mrs Beeton notes that “if the dinner hour is uncertain” the apple pudding can be cooked for longer than this and it will be fine. Just make sure that the water has not boiled away.
- Serve warm, with plenty of pouring cream.