I'm posting this during a short pitstop home between the two weeks of our current school break. I just spent a glorious week at the beach and am getting ready to head down South to Avignom tomorrow. What can I say? A Daring Baker's life is never dull; well at least when you've got blog posting deadlines to meet, people! 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.
I have to say this was probably one of the most daring of all the challenges I have made to date. Not because it required lots of exotic ingredients (no, in fact the recipe I chose had only 5 basic items) nor fancy culinary techniques (it doesn't get much easier than melting some butter and then stirring in 3 ingredients to prepare). For me, the challenge came from the fact that I was preparing this recipe at my mother-in-law's apartment at the beach with nary a measuring spoon, kitchen scale or even proper baking tins available. There wasn't even a bar of butter in the fridge or bag of flour in the cupboard to get me started. So simplicity was key and I had no choice but to wing this challenge by guesstimating the amount of ingredients needed (which was an unbelievable task given the pudding recipe I chose asked for things like "the weight of 3 eggs in sugar," etc.). I'm telling you, I can't remember the last time I had to think so hard in the kitchen!
I was also a little bit thrown by the challenge, a steamed suet pudding. Suet? Isn't that some kind of derived animal fat, like lard? Ick! I've never even used Crisco in cooking so you can imagine my mindset. And pudding? Well heck! To me that involves boiling some water and stirring in the contents of a package you get in a small cardboard box labeled Jell-O! But Esther was kind enough to explain what she wanted -- a recipe would qualify as long as it was steamed and as long as it was called pudding, and never mind the suet if we didn't want to use it. Phew. So I surfed on over to one of the references she gave us, Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management and came across something called Canary Pudding recipe which called for only 5 simple ingredients. This was it - Game On!
Despite the measurements which I am sure I got wrong (when I'm back home from the next leg of my vacation, I aim to measure out each ingredient to see where I went wrong), this was a fairly easy recipe to pull together and prepare. The batter tasted pretty good - sweet and lemony - which gave me high hopes for a successful outcome. Next was the challenge of steaming it. The only thing I could find to cook this in was an old, deformed ring pan which I fitted with aluminum and propped up on some crumpled aluminum foil in a large covered pot that served as a makeshift steamer.
I let it steam for just under 2 hours as stated in the recipe and when I pulled it out, it was both undercooked and dry at the same time (?). The taste of the pudding was way too eggy. But inspired by the warm weather and sunny days, I decided to pretty it up in the guise of a Strawberry Short-pudding replete with fresh strawberries, raspberries and home-made whipped cream. My husband and I both agreed this pudding was an abomination. Oh well, at least we were able to enjoy the fresh berries and whipped cream on a beautiful sunny day overlooking the beach. Til next time, daring bakers, when it is my turn to host!
Mrs. Beeton's Canary Pudding:
INGREDIENTS - The weight of 3 eggs in sugar and butter, the weight of 2 eggs in flour, the rind of 1 small lemon, 3 eggs.
Mode.—Melt the butter to a liquid state, but do not allow it to oil; stir to this the sugar and finely-minced lemon-peel, and gradually dredge in the flour, keeping the mixture well stirred; whisk the eggs; add these to the pudding; beat all the ingredients until thoroughly blended, and put them into a buttered mould or basin; boil for 2 hours, and serve with sweet sauce.
Time.—2 hours. Average cost, 9d.
Sufficient for 4 or 5 persons. Seasonable at any time.