The real challenge proved to be finding the right kind of inspiration for this months Daring Bakers challenge. I am not the biggest fan of the traditional British pudding and even less so in Spring, when there are a plethora of desserts I would much rather make. But, the Daring Bakers’ challenges are usually a lesson to be learnt in some way or the other and this time was no different.
The British love their puddings that’s for sure. Whether it’s a treacle sponge, roly poly, spotty dick or a proper rice pudding, whether baked, or steamed, pie or tart, flan or fool there are so many variations and always served with a thick custard.
I went to a British school and was exposed to many of these puddings and while some were good I failed to share the real passion for them.
For this challenge we were to make a steamed cake-like dessert using suet, which is a very common ingredient in such dishes. However, it makes me shudder! I was very glad that we had the option to use “as close a replacement as you can manage or is acceptable”.
The required elements of this challenge are:
- to make a suet pudding using real suet or as close a replacement as you can manage or is acceptable to you; and
- to cook it by steaming or if you want to be even more traditional by boiling tied up in a cloth.
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.
Well the suet thing was out of the question for me. Besides the fact that it’s not available in Germany, the similar products like schmaltz and lard are not something I use in my kitchen. So, I stuck to good ole butter.
Seeing rhubarb appearing all over the markets made me crave Spring even more. Ok they were the green stalk variety, the typical German Wine, but I am never picky with my rhubarb.
One of the most popular steamed puddings I know of is the Christmas pudding making use of several types of dried fruit, spices and nuts. I considered what my Spring version of a steamed sponge pudding would look like.
With rhubarb of course, light and fluffy and kept moist by grated pear. Zesty blood orange peel add a lovely tangy flavor and blends the aromas, highlighting the rhubarb wonderfully.
So, what started out to be a laborious and uninspiring challenge turned into one filled with light spongy fruity goodness perfect for a warm sunny day in Spring.
The recipe is not the one suggested by Esther, but one I developed myself based on various recipes for sponge puddings I studied. Adding fresh fruit instead of dried keeps the cake light and moist. I poached the rhubarb and thinly sliced a pear lining small ramekins with the fruit then topping it off with the sponge batter. I baked the ramekins in a water bath in the oven, very similar to a crème brulee or a custard. The best part however is the drizzle of rhubarb syrup.
Rhubarb Pear Sponge Pudding with Vanilla Sauce
Printable version of recipe here
For Poached Rhubarb
250g rhubarb, sliced
juice of one lemon
For Sponge Pudding
2 pears, 1 grated and 1 thinly sliced
100g Muscovado sugar
140g all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
85g butter, softened
2 tablespoons milk
zest of 1 blood orange (substitute with orange)
Homemade Vanilla Sauce
Pistachios, coarsely chopped
- To poach the rhubarb, place rhubarb, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan and heat on a low heat. Poach for approx. 5 minutes or until soft. The pieces should hold their shape and not turn too mushy. Drain and reserve the juices. Set aside to cool.
- Heat the juice in a small saucepan and simmer until the juices cook down to a syrup.
- Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees C. Butter 6 ramekins.
- In a bowl toss the poached rhubarb and pear slices with 2 tablespoons sugar. Arrange a few slices of pear and a tablespoon of rhubarb at the bottom of each ramekin. Set aside.
- Sift flour and baking powder into a clean bowl. Beat remaining sugar and softened butter with and electric hand held beater until thick, creamy and light.
- Break in one egg and beat until incorporated. Beat in the second egg. If the mixture begins to look curdled – don’t worry about it.
- Add half of the flour into the mixture and using a rubber spatula fold it in. Stir in half of the milk, then add the rest of the flour, folding well followed by the remaining milk.
- Fold in the blood orange/orange zest and the grated pear. Spoon the mixture into the buttered ramekins and level off.
- Place each ramekin in a roasting tin and fill the tin with hot water. Bake in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes, depending on your oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Loosen the sponge pudding from the sides of the each ramekin with a knife and carefully invert it onto a serving plates. Serve drizzled with the rhubarb syrup, vanilla sauce and chopped pistachios.
The Food Guide Tips:
- Rhubarb – it’s really a veggie!
This was a fantastic twist to the traditional British pudding adding fruity flavors of Spring to give it a brilliant kick. The sweet rhubarb syrup adds such wonderful flavor to the entire dish and makes perfect use of the leftover juices. Soeren, Tom and I enjoyed these on the weekend outside on our terrace, with the sun shining, birds chirping and a warm breeze blowing a shower of white petals through the air.
Thank you Esther for putting this challenge together!
You might like these dessert ideas from WFLH:
|Bostini Cream Pie||Chocolate Mountains|
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