Pudding club restarted in the new year, and I made a steamed pudding. I had planned to try and make my own Christmas pudding this year, and for much of the time I had all the right ingredients but no pudding basin. I toyed with the idea of re-using the plastic ones that supermarket Christmas puddings come in, but in the end, as with so many things Christmas this year, I prevaricated for too long and put it off till next year.
But with the idea in my mind that steamed puddings might be something I would like to tackle, I was thrilled to see a variety of pudding basins in Lakeland remaindered to sell. I plumped for a rather nice Mason & Cash affair with robins and snowflakes painted on it, at least partly because I couldn’t find the 2l metal with a sealing lid which I didn’t see until after I’d passed through the tills.
So to christen the basin, I decided to make a Sussex Pond pudding, following this BBC recipe, for once, almost entirely to the letter.
The one exception was the size of the basin. The recipe calls for a 1.5 litre basin; in the shop they told me the Mason & Cash affair was 600ml. When I measured it for myself, filled to the brim, it was more like 800. But it was definitely smaller than the recipe called for.
And yet, I made it to the measurements, and it all fit in perfectly.
Here’s the ingredients going in:
A good thick layer of suet pastry, butter and dark sugar at the base, then skewered ((the recipe suggests using a larding needle or skewer. I wonder how many more people have skewers than larding needles)) lemons on top, then the rest of the butter and sugar.
Into the basin, covered with a foil and parchment lid with a pleat in it, and tied up with string. I was dead chuffed with how this looked when it was completed as so often my craft attempts look far from good when done.
Then steamed. I used my stock pot and a smaller pudding pot to hold the basin off the bottom. I then steamed for four hours, with a view to allowing the pudding to cool completely, transport it to our friends, and then boil again for about forty minutes to warm before serving.
At this point it was a little nerve-wracking. The pudding was sealed in its basin and I had no idea whether it would turn out, whether it was properly cooked and how it would taste when it turned out.
It turned out just fine.
Then the question was clearly how would it taste? And would the lemons actually be edible, after all that cooking?
What happens is the lemon juice leaks out of the skewer holes, muddles with the melted butter and sugar and forms a dense syrup. With the pith from the lemons still there, this certainly ends up a very adult taste, sweet, lemony but with also a fairly strong marmalady bitterness as an edge to the flavour.
The lemons were not edible.
Some of us had it with custard; others with cream. Our toddler friends preferred the custard to the pudding.