|The single most appreciated thing at any table, and in any season. But now you steam in a microwave they will take only minutes to cook, and can do so while you serve and eat the main course.|
How to do it:
Serves four to six
150g/6oz caster sugar
200g/7oz self raising flour
1 tablespoon milk
Chosen flavourings – see below
900ml or 1 ½ pint pudding basin, buttered and floured.
Really cream the butter and sugar until the mixture looks like cream and the sugar has dissolved completely. The better you do this, the better the end result. It does take longer than you expect . . .Beat in the eggs one at a time and then beat in the flour until it is just incorporated. Stir in the milk.
Spoon the mixture into the basin – don’t pour it.
Cover with an inverted plate and microwave 8-10 minutes at Medium High in an 850 watt cooker, but around Medium on a 1000-1200 watt cooker: Check it is well-risen and spongy to the touch. Sometimes an extra 30 seconds might be all it needs. Then let it stand three to five minutes, run a knife blade around the inside of the bowl and then invert as above.
Increasing your repertoire
Steamed puddings were often made with breadcrumbs and, perhaps surprisingly, this gives a nice light texture. You can replace the flour with 200g to 250g/6-8 oz fresh white breadcrumbs from a good proper bread (Sainsbury’s Campagne loaf or the Continental from M&S) or use a mixture of 50g/2oz self-raising flour and 100-150g/ 4-5 oz fresh white breadcrumbs. Crumbs from sliced white bread are less than useless.
Chocolate: use 50g/2oz less flour but add 50g/2oz cocoa (not drinking chocolate) and 50-100g/2-4oz chopped chocolate.: serve with hot chocolate sauce, custard sauce (chocolate or not) a nut sauce or a raspberry sauce.. Most of the mixtures you’d put into the bottom of a plain, orange or lemon steamed pudding can go into the basin of a chocolate one.
Fresh raspberries in and under a chocolate pudding gets the vote of the more sophisticated palate. For a real buzz, add the chocolate in chunks, add small marshmallows and then lightly season the pudding mixture with Tabasco – that’s Rocky Road Steamed pudding – and who needs to wait for winter to try that!
Golden syrup: stir a generous slug through the mixture and as much as you like at the bottom of the basin – three or four tablespoons is the norm: ring the changes by also adding long shreds of lemon or orange zest or a mixture of both Jam: you can use any fruity jam and not just the usual raspberry; add three or four tablespoons of apricot or plum or pineapple or strawberry or greengage jam or lumpier conserve to the bottom of the basin before you add in the mixture.
The possibilities are amazing if the sponge is spiced or citrus flavoured, especially if you choose orange.
Lemon: put two tablespoons of butter, the grated zest of one lemon and the juice of two into the bottom of the basin: stir the zest from the second lemon into the mixture. Maple syrup & pecan: micro-roast a handful of pecan nuts and chop about a third of them quite finely. Stir the finely chopped nuts and a tablespoon of maple syrup through the pudding mixture. Put three tablespoons of maple syrup, a tablespoon of butter and the rest of the nuts in the bottom of the pudding basin.
Marmalade: three or four tablespoons of coarse cut marmalade at the bottom of the basin: zest of an orange through the pudding. Some dark rum sprinkled over the marmalade is only a good thing. For puddings, Cooper’s Oxford is superior to their very dark Vintage marmalade Mixed berries: half a pack of frozen mixed berries makes a spectacular base for a steamed pudding. The other half can be lightly heated in the microwave at the last moment and then artfully tumbled over the servings. Lashings of cream seem miserly with this; it needs clotted cream and ice cream.
Pie mixes: cans of thickened fruit mixtures meant to be baked in a pie make wondrous accompaniments to steamed puddings; the best is black or red cherry or anything based on berries or mixed berries but if you use apricots sharpen the flavour with lemon, lime or orange zest. Put up to a half in the base of the pudding bowl, perhaps choosing a slightly bigger bowl than normal; the remainder is heated and served as a sauce.
See above for suggestions about serving cream. Raspberry/strawberry: this can be anything you like. Just jam – three to four tablespoons in the bottom of the bowl or jam in the bottom and fruit mixed through, or mashed fruit, sugar and butter in the bottom . . . you can’t go wrong really Spiced: add a tablespoon of ground ginger, cinnamon or good fresh mixed spice through the mixture; if you are cooking by microwave, use half that amount.
Particularly good with golden syrup. Toffee-pear and rum: peel core and then roughly chop 500g/1lb firm sweet pears: Williams or Comice are always the best choice. Melt together 90g/3oz butter, 175g/6oz muscavado or dark brown sugar and two tablespoons dark rum until blended. Put one-third of this into the base of a buttered and floured 1.5 litre/3 pint pudding bowl. Mix the pears into the remaining warm liquid. Make the basic sponge pudding and then swirl the pear mixture unevenly through it – don’t fuss, because an informality of colour and flavour is this pudding’s appeal. Rum custard or cream, of course.