Friday, January 20, 2012

Steamed Apricot Pudding - not so pretty but soooo good on a chilly day!!

 Hello my little Steamed Pudding sitting in a pool of luscious Pouring or English custard - hot pudding and hot custard or cold pudding and cold custard or hot and cold together - any way works with this beauty, I prefer cold and cold - she may not be much to look at but as 'they' say "the proof is in the PUDDING!!"
If you have never had a steamed pudding before beware they are quite different in taste and texture to other desserts - they are like a moist sponge cake and they are dense yet light - how can that be?? - hard to say how - you'll have to try one, but they are delicious and somewhat addictive and there's nothing in the recipe to fail so anyone can do it!!

This is a simple recipe requiring no great baking skills but it does take time to do so factor that in - as with all recipes do read through first to know what you need to do and in what order.

The first order of the day is to get a nice big double boiler going so start that first and it can be heating as you make the pudding.
Here's a little still life of my ingredients - look at the colour of those eggs - from Farmetta Farm in Morrill, Maine, Kate's butter from Old Orchard Beach, Maine - breadcrumbs from my homemade bread (fantastic recipe here for no knead bread from King Arthur Flour), unsulphured Turkish apricots, organic lemon, organic milk and organic flour all from the Belfast Coop of course you don't have to use organic anything or Turkish apricots etc I just try to use the best ingredients I can to get the best taste.

THE APRICOT PUDDING
6oz of dried apricots of your choice chopped small
zest of the lemon
6fl oz water (3/4 cup)
Put these three ingredients into a heavy bottomed pan and gently simmer until very soft and getting squushy as below
Allow to cool about 10 minutes- now take out half the apricots and whirl in a blender 'til smooth - be careful not to put hot apricots in the blender as this can be a hazard and the heat blows the top of the blender so do let them cool to warm first set these aside.

With the other half of the apricots put them back in the pan with 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 1/2oz sugar, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 4 fluid ounces of water and simmer until nice and thick - set aside to cool. 
Butter generously a one quart/2 pint bowl and when apricot with butter mix is cool dollop into this bowl.

Have all your ingredients at room temperature:
4oz/1 stick butter
2oz fresh white breadcrumb - not from stale bread
3 1/2 oz sugar
2 large eggs whisked together in a bowl
6oz white flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon lemon juice
scant 4 fluid ounces whole milk

1. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
2. Add eggs bit by bit and cream between additions - if your mix curdles as seen below not to worry it will come back together again soon - curdling is unsightly but not a big problem in steamed puddings!!
3. Mix breadcrumbs and flour and baking powder together and then add to creamed butter and sugar in 3 additions alternating with the pureed apricots and milk - add the lemon juice and stir until you end up with a nice stiffish batter as below.
 4. Spoon the batter carefully on top of the apricot/butter mix in the bowl and smooth over to finish.

Now we cut a round of greaseproof paper to cover the bowl generously....cover the bowl, fold paper over down the sides and secure with an elastic band.

Now cut a circle of aluminium foil, fold over the top of the bowl, secure with another rubber band and then for ease of getting the pudding bowl in and out of the steamer basket without scalding yourself tie string around the bowl in the manner below.
Now pop your little pudding into the 'basket' of the boiler and put it back in the pan on the stove...put the lid back and get the kettle on for a cuppa while you wait for your pudding to be cooked. I steamed this one for 1 1/2 hours on our humming wood burning stove...just to add to the Maine mystique. Remove the bowl from basket after the one and a half hours and remove covers - leave uncovered in the bowl for 10 - 15 minutes - after that time put a plate on top of the bowl and with covered hands invert quickly and give a shake to help the pudding plop out of the bowl.

And thus you end up with a little hat shaped pudding that is sticky on the top and probably quite rounded on the bottom...you can level that off for presentation purposes so it sits level on the plate...don't be surprised if there's some apricot goo left in the bowl when you turn it out.
 
 Now a pudding isn't a pudding without custard so here's the recipe for that too - a little trickier but just be gentle and slow and you'll be fine!!

CUSTARD SAUCE, ANLANN CUSTAIRD
from "Irish Traditional Food" by Theodora FitzGibbon, a goodly trusty cookbook

1 heaped tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 whole large egg and 1 large egg yolk whisked together
10 fl oz/ 1 1/4 cups whole milk

1. Beat together the egg, egg yolk, vanilla and sugar in a bowl.

2. Have another double boiler on the go.
3. Heat the milk to almost boiling in the top part of the double boiler but on the stove top to make it go faster.
4. Stir a little of the hot milk into the egg mix and then a bit more to temper the temperature.
5. Then put the top part of the double boiler back over the bottom and the boiling water and whisk the egg and milk mix into the rest of the milk
6. Do not leave the custard alone now until it is finished or it will curdle whilst you are not looking and you will have to start again. SO stir and stir and stir with a wooden spoon until it starts to thicken and coats the back of the spoon as in the picture below...you take the spoon out of the custard, turn the spoon over, run your finger through the custard and if the line doesn't fill back in it is ready, don't let it cook too long or get too hot as the eggs will start to turn into scrambled eggs and the sauce will be grainy.....take off the heat immediately and continue to stir.

And to finish off with a little bit of design here's my latest textile pattern at my Spoonflower store - "Homespun Heart Patchwork"
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