April 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Traditional British Pudding

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Steak, Oysters, and Mushrooms Suet Pudding
steak, oysters, and mushrooms suet pudding

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.

Suet, lard, tallow, and other fat such as coconut oil have gotten a bad reputation from the food police but they are actually better for us than hydrogenated vegetable oil and they make fried food taste so much better too. I fried some potatoes in suet, they were delicious and then I remembered McDonald's fries used to taste so good because they were fried in tallow, until the company was told to switch to vegetable oil. I always thought that suet would render a beefy flavor but it doesn't. It is almost neutral and now I firmly believe is perfect for tender baked or steamed pie crusts.

The suet shreds and crumbles very easily with gloved hands. And if you don't like the caulfat-like membrane you can throw it away (I didn't and they don't seem to affect nor are they visible in the finished pudding). After shredding I weighed and wrapped them individually into 6-ounce portions and put them in a freezer bag, ready when I feel like British pudding. I rendered a small piece and I find the rendered suet is much harder to shred than the fresh one.


This was a true challenge for me as I have never had British pudding, with suet or otherwise. One of my dessert cookbooks which has mostly British recipes is hardly ever used. I have been curious though and regularly browse through the book almost always looking at the Sticky and Steamed section specially the boiled Spotted Dick and Christmas Pudding but never dared to make them. Thanks to Esther and the Daring Cooks challenge, I finally had the motivation to try them. I was not expecting to like it but I was wrong because not only do I like but I love them, both the savory and the dessert pudding.

Suet Crust

12 ounces all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
6 ounces shredded suet
a little less than 1 cup water
  • Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix in the suet. Add the water, a tablespoonful at a time, mixing until it forms an elastic dough that leaves the bowl clean. Don’t over handle the pastry or it will become tough.
Steak, Oysters, and Mushrooms Pudding
I made a steak pudding, used oysters in place of kidney, and added fresh mushrooms. The pudding is very yummy with just enough sauce, not too watery nor too dry. The crust is perfectly tender, a little flaky and soft. Because it is steamed instead of baked, I wasn't expecting a golden brown color. I couldn't believe my eyes when I removed the foil after 4 hours of steaming that the crust has turned perfectly golden. The meat is very tender and the oysters has melted, yes melted because I couldn't find a shred of them in the delicious stew.

Steak, Oysters, and Mushrooms Suet Pudding

1 recipe suet crust
1½ pounds chuck steak, cubed
1 cup fresh or frozen oysters
½ pound button mushrooms, sliced
1 medium-sized onion, chopped
2 teaspoons flour mixed with 1 teaspoon salt and a pinch of black pepper
salt and ground pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Reserve a quarter of the crust for the lid and roll out the rest and line a well-greased bowl.
  • Toss the steak in the seasoned flour. Mix in the oysters, mushrooms, and onion. Fill the pastry-lined bowl with the meat mixture. Add enough cold water to reach almost to the top of the meat and sprinkle with Worcestershire sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Roll the final piece of pastry out into a circle big enough to cover the top of the bowl, dampen the edges and put in position on the pudding, pinching the edges together to seal. Seal well and cover with a double sheet of foil, pleated in the center to allow room for expansion while cooking. Secure with string, and place it in a steamer over boiling water.
  • Steam for up to 5 hours, you may need to add more boiling water halfway through or possibly more often.

Sussex Pond Pudding
This is one of the suggestions in the challenge and I was skeptical at first. The filling has a total of 3 ingredients, one of which is a whole lemon. How can it taste good. I'm telling you it tastes great. I love the sweet tart lemony sauce gushing out and creating a "pond" on the plate, the soaked crust is heavenly soft, and the caramelized very soft lemon is amazingly delicious. You just have to try it.

Sussex Pond Pudding

1 recipe suet crust
4.2 ounces coarse raw sugar (demerara)
4.2 ounces unsalted butter
1 large lemon
  • Reserve a quarter of the crust for the top.
  • Roll out the rest and line a well-greased bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and put half in the bowl with half the sugar. Prick the whole lemon, preferably one with a thin skin, all over, using a thick skewer. [I cut the lemon into large chunks]. Place on top of the butter and sugar in the bowl. Cover with the rest of the butter and sugar.
  • Top the pudding with the remaining crust. Seal the edges together. Steam for 4 hours, or longer for a really tender lemon, adding more water in the steamer as needed. To serve, turn the pudding into a dish with a deep rim, when you slice into it the rich lemon sauce will gush out. Make sure each person is served some of the suet crust, lemon and tangy luscious sauce.

Figgy Pudding
This is a cake-like sponge type of dessert pudding. Some sponge pudding doughs are wrapped in several layers of muslin and boiled directly in water. The recipe for this Christmas pudding mentioned in the song We Wish You a Merry Christmas is steamed, not boiled. The pudding is moist, fruity and utterly delicious! And very Christmas-y.

Figgy Pudding

½ cup shredded suet
½ cup sugar
1 large egg, well beaten
½ cup milk
1 tablespoon rum or brandy
1 small apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
8 ounces dried calimyrna figs, chopped
½ cup chopped nuts
½ teaspoon each grated lemon and orange zest
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
a pinch of ground cloves
a pinch of ground ginger
1 cup dried bread crumbs
1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Grease a 1-quart glass or ceramic bowl, set aside.
  • In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients well. Spoon into the prepared bowl. Cover with a piece of aluminum foil and steam for 4 hours. Serve with sweetened cream, or custard sauce.
Thank you again Esther. I truly enjoyed making and eating these puddings.


Renata said...

These are both great! I always get surprised at how golden this pastry can get on steam! Well done on your challenge!

Wic said...

this all looks so delicious and I will make sure to give them a try.
great job of this months challenge.

tariqata said...

Oggi, your Sussex pond and figgy puddings look so beautiful, and the crust on both the savory and sweet puddings must have been perfect!


shelley c. said...

Great job on all three of your puddings! I, too, was skeptical about the Sussex pond pudding - it just seemed odd to me to put a whole lemon in there, but everyone has said how good it is, so I may just have to give it a try. Truly excellent job on this challenge!

The Betz Family said...

Your crusts look so great! I love how golden and flaky they turned out. Nice job on your challenge!

Oggi said...

Hi all, thanks.:)

I never imagined steamed pudding can have a golden crust. The secret I think is the long steaming period.

Rosemary & Garlic said...

Oggi, my hat is off to you, I don't know that I could cook with suet, I grew up feeding it to the birds.

Sidney said...

That is something new to me...but it looks and sounds good!

Audax said...

Your crusts on the 1st two puddings are PERFECTION - and the 3rd one is so moist. Bravo bravo bravo on your excellent results, I remember how impressed I was when saw them on the forums in the Daring Bakers'. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

Anonymous said...

Oh, so that's what Suet looks like. I wonder If I could use another type of lard instead of Suet :) Those puddings looked great and yummy!

Oggi said...

Ann Marie, yeah. Suet cakess with seeds is supposed to give birds energy, they fly all day long after all.
I got frustrated when looking online for suet. All I got were bird suet and the cooking variety is very expensive to ship. Good thing I found it in one of our grocery stores. Suet is not just for birds anymore.^__^

Sidney, I learn [and eat] something new once a month.:)

Audax, thanks. Coming from you it's a great compliment.:)

Brian, pork lard and coconut oil are good substitute for beef suet. I'm going to make a Sussex Pond with whole calamansi although its rind is a bit bitter.:)

silverrock said...

Mmm... the pond pudding looks yummy. What great photos you've taken. Way to go on this month's challenge, keep up the amazing bakes!

Oggi said...

Silverrock, thanks.:)

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