Daring Bakers: Rhubarb Pear Sponge Pudding with Vanilla Sauce

 Rhubarb Pear ponge (0009) by MeetaK   

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:

  1. to make a suet pudding using real suet or as close a replacement as you can manage or is acceptable to you; and
  2. 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.

Rhubarb-Pear (0039) by MeetaK

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.

Rhubarb Pear Sponge Diptych 2 by MeetaK

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.

Rhubarb Pear Sponge Diptych (1) by MeetaK

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
65g sugar
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
2 eggs
85g butter, softened
2 tablespoons milk
zest of 1 blood orange (substitute with orange)

Homemade Vanilla Sauce
Pistachios, coarsely chopped



  1. 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.

  2. Heat the juice in a small saucepan and simmer until the juices cook down to a syrup.

  3. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees C. Butter 6 ramekins.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Fold in the blood orange/orange zest and the grated pear. Spoon the mixture into the buttered ramekins and level off.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

- Pistachios 

- Oranges





Rhubarb Pear ponge (0017) by MeetaK  

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:

Bakewell Tart with Thyme Infused Cherry Preserve and Cashew Frangipane

Bostini Cream Pie Chocolate Mountains


All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2010 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

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  1. GORGEOUS! I love love love the styling there - who thought steamed pud could be so springlike? Mine is so wintery=fail ;P

  2. Ooh, you did rhubarb too! So different from mine but also so tasty looking!

  3. Love the idea of rhubarb and pear, i amsure gonna try this combination when i can get hold of rhubarb from my hubbs aunts garden. First time i am making the steamed pudding and we loved it.
    Looks beautiful and delicoius as always.

  4. A fabulous pudding! I love that seasonal version!



  5. Interesting flavours here, Meeta. Great looking pudding. With this challenge, the good ole pud is getting a much needed facelift! LOL

  6. Lovely pictures Meeta! You know I don't like rhubarb, but you might actually tempt me to try this. What a nice combination with the pears, I don't think I've seen those two things paired up before.

  7. ah..I could keep looking at this for a lifetime!

  8. Your pudding looks wonderful Meeta and perfect for spring with all the lovely fresh fruit.

  9. What a great spring take on this classic winter comfort pudding! It was my first daring bakers challenge and I feel really lucky it was something I had tried before. Living in England means I am exposed to steamed puddings a lot. Especially the Xmas variety. Love your photos as well.

  10. Oooh, gorgeous! I also get all misty-eyed whe I see rhubarb for sale - i love its tanginess and its pinkness! With you on the lard. Shudder. Love the vintage WMF knife!

  11. Meeta, you left me speachless!
    I tried to make a pudding twice, but my results are really a disaster!
    Loved your presentation, as always!
    Have a wonderful day!

  12. Meeta,
    Thats a lovely pudding. Is there any substitute for rhubarb, I don't think I can get one in Kolkata, India.

  13. Great minds must think alike because this is exactly the pudding I was going to make. Just didn't have the time. Looks perfect!

  14. What a lovely pudding with a fresh twist! The pictures are beautiful.

  15. Sounds like a light yet luscious pudding. So beautiful Meeta. I love rhubarb and used it in my oudding too :)

  16. Fresh is always the best.I love a fruity dessert.I was this close to using rhubarb,but could not find them in the market the day I planned.I feel confident now to try the flavor :D

  17. Beautiful presentation, stunning result, wow ... Well done for this month challenge.

  18. Very pretty Meeta, love the flavours here.Wish I could use rhubarb too,but, apart from me, no takers for rhubarb at home :-(

  19. Interesting Blogher ad: "Why Nina went short"
    Love the little cakes and the vanilla sauce is so good for so many things....

  20. Though it's always searingly hot here, I do fancy British puddings :) This one is no exception, especially with the fruity (er, vegetable-y? hehe) flavors.

  21. That is so beautiful! I love the sound of rhubarb and pear together. We are not yet seeing rhubarb here, but hopefully will see some soon.

  22. Meeta,

    I love the pudding you made with rubarb pear sponge pudding . In my house i have to finish the entire pudding i made, hubby doesn't touched it.

  23. Thank you all so much for your feedback and comments. It was a delightful challenge in the end and I loved the wonderful spring flavors this had. Glad you like it too!

  24. Happy Spring Meeta! Love the pear rhubarb combinaiton, especially with that lucious sauce and spring green pistacios.

  25. OOOH beautiful beautiful beautiful what can I say.. As this is my first challenge it was totally fun.


  26. Beautiful as always, Meeta. I was considering rhubarb, but unfortunately couldn't find any. Well done.

  27. Meeta, you did a great job as always! It looks great!

  28. I just discovered your blog and you have the most beautiful photos! This rhubarb and pear pudding sounds wonderful, I've never made a sponge pudding. Good call on the butter!

  29. Looks fantastic Meeta and the addition of rhubarb is a very happy one!

  30. Hi Meeta, I have never posted comments in your blog i think, I keep visiting your blog often!, for those beautiful pictures, I wanted to try your Broiche buns, this is very beautiful!! and doesn't have suet and I have never tried Rhubarb before, I will definitely give this a try!!

  31. Just came from twitter, atleast you have your new domain, and anyway soon you will be overflowing with comments :-)
    Congragulation for becoming a .com,

  32. Lovely, you have put English Puds in a new dimension, I certainly don't get excited about using suet in puddings.
    Well done on the new real estate!

  33. Beautiful puddings. Im such a lover of rhubarb and ours is just coming into season :o) Your photos are stunning Meeta. Congrats on your move to your new home. xx

  34. Oh, these are beautiful - and the poached rhubarb and the grated pear in the pudding itself sound incredibly delicious!

    I have an increasingly long list of variations on the steamed pudding theme, but this might have moved to the top!

  35. What a lovely pudding! Your combo of ingredients have given me some inspiration for possibly getting this challenge done. I've never cooked rhubarb before and it sound so pleasant in this. Gorgeous photos, always :)

  36. Wow looks really good! I bet it's healthy too! Thanks for posting :)

  37. I love how you give interesting twists and add your own style to daring baker challenges.

  38. I'm really not into pudding too but this one seems to be a very good variation especially with the combination of rhubarb and pear, thx for the idea!

  39. Great looking pictures Meeta and congrats on the successful move!..

  40. Congrats Meeta on the new place. Looks cool and inviting

  41. I was way too excited for this first DB chaallenge of mine, but eventually the "suet" started to bother me. I'm not even sure if we get it here commercially, I just didn't like the thought of it. Adding lighter fruit to the steamed pudding was a great idea - I never thought of pears, that sounds delightful - ah well - for next time!

  42. Hey Meeta,

    Your pudding looks fantastic! Delicate and delicious! Pears with vanilla sauce - Yum!

  43. Amazing pudding...and snaps are too yummy...to watch...just feel like garbing it right away:)

  44. Aha! So herez where the rhubarb went! :) Nicely done, Meeta!

  45. Heyy! also noticed you got your own domain!! Congrats!! :))

  46. Wow these puddings looks so delicious! This type of pudding has always intrigued me and I'm almost 100 percent sure I'd love it but I've never made it or eaten it before! Maybe I'll have to try to make puddings like this soon. I love your version with the rhubarb and pear!!

  47. Beautiful pictures and I love the creative choice of flavors!! WONDERFUL JOB! :)

  48. Thank you thank you everyone for all your feedback and comments. I am so glad you are liking my rhubarb and pear creation. Perfectly Spring!

  49. Gorgeous photos, love the rhubarb and pear flavor!

    Sawadee from Bangkok,

  50. Those look so good! I am looking forward to the rhubarb!

  51. Oooh, love all the flavors here! Sounds so delish. :)

  52. a lovely challenge result as usual!! I didn't make the challenge this time around. Couldnt get suet around these parts and considered butter but just didnt get round to doing it... Bad Me!

  53. I love what you've done with this challenge Meeta! And you sure made it fit for spring. Which was not the first thing that came to mind when I read about the challenge... :) Beautiful!

  54. Looks amazing.
    I love rhubarb!
    By the way, the link to this post is broken in the recipe index, because of the " at the end!

  55. these look so nice and some of the items used grow in my garden, I might treat myself today.

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