Esther educated us on how the British use the word pudding. It can refer to: black pudding, or blood pudding, a type of sausage; a generic word for dessert; any dish cooked in a pudding bowl or pudding cloth, traditionally steamed or boiled; or an endearment (i.e., "How are you today, my pudding?") What Americans call pudding is banana custard in England.
I had to gen up on suet. Suet is raw beef or mutton fat, especially the hard fat around the loins and kidneys. It must be rendered and strained, resembling melted butter at that point, and then allowed to harden again, resembling solid shortening, like Crisco. Butter or Crisco can be substituted; however, because suet has a higher melting point, it supposedly gives the pudding a lighter texture and richer flavor. The substitution of butter or shortening creates a pudding that is heavy and greasy.
We had the option of choosing from two forms of suet pudding: 1) Suet crust pudding with a filling (i.e., Steak and Kidney Pudding, Sussex Pond Pudding) or 2) Suet sponge pudding (i.e., Spotted Dick, Christmas Pudding). Both types of pudding are traditionally steamed in a pudding basin for at least an hour.
After reading about all of the puddings, and reviewing various recipes, I found Spotted Dick, and its history, most interesting. "Would you care for a spot of tea with your Spotted Dick?"
Spotted Dick is a steamed suet pudding containing raisins or currants, and commonly served with custard. Spotted refers to the dried fruit (which resemble spots) and dick may be a contraction/corruption of the word pudding (from the last syllable) or possibly a corruption of the word dough or dog, as "spotted dog" is another name for the same dish. Another explanation offered for the latter half of the name is that it comes from the German word for "thick," in reference to the thickened suet mixture.
The recipe I found actually called for butter, not suet. However, being a Daring Baker, and wanting to accept the challenge by using an ingredient I had never heard of, I sought out some suet. I went to Bristol Farms, grabbed a shopping trolley, and got jammy. Thank you, Mr. Butcher at Bristol Farms! Free fat!
Trust me, it took a little convincing for me to accept the fact that suet, once rendered, would not impart any "beefy" flavor into a sweet dessert. I'll spare you the photo of the clumps of raw fat, but this is what it looks like after rendering and straining...
And how it looks after it hardened (I did use about 2 tablespoons of butter, because I only ended up with 8 tablespoons of suet)
I adapted a couple different recipes to create my version of Spotted Dick. I omitted the raisins because I've really been wanting to use some of the luvvly-jubbly rhubarb and strawberries in season, and I made a ginger-infused creme anglaise to go over the top of the pudding. I also chose to use mini ramekins rather than one large pudding basin. And Bob's your uncle!
Ok, Chaps, let's get started!
Strawberry-Rhubarb Spotless Dick, with Ginger Creme Anglaise
Adapted from Spotted Dick
Epicurious, December 2008
by Chef Lou Jones, The Culinary Institute of America
(Video of Chef Jones preparing Spotted Dick, here - ignore the immature comments, it really is a good video demonstration on the preparation)
9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter (or 10 tablespoons suet)
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups self-rising flour
3 tablespoons whole milk
Strawberry-Rhubarb compote (recipe below)
Ginger Creme Anglaise (recipe below)
Special equipment: 6-8 (6-ounce) ramekins, parchment paper
Prepare the Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote and Ginger Creme Anglaise, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.
Butter ramekins, then dust with flour, knocking out excess. On parchment paper, trace 8 circles slightly larger than ramekins. Cut out.
Fill large, shallow, wide saucepan with 1 inch water. Add flat steamer or equally sized cookie cutters to create steaming platform just above water level.
In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat together butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar until pale and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl periodically. Beat in vanilla.
Sift flour into medium bowl. Gradually beat flour into egg mixture just until combined. Add 3 tablespoons milk and beat until smooth, about 30 seconds.
Spoon some of the Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote into the bottom of each ramekin.
Transfer batter to pastry bag and fill prepared ramekins (the puddings will rise during steaming, so don't fill the ramekins all the way to the top).
Top ramekins with parchment paper circles, gently pressing on paper to make contact with batter.
Over moderately high heat, bring water in steamer to simmer. Transfer ramekins to steamer, cover pan tightly, lower heat to moderate, and steam, adding more boiling water to pan if necessary, until pudding is set, about 1 hour for ramekins. Transfer ramekins to rack and cool 5 minutes.
As you can see, my puddings puffed up like souffles and were a tad skew-whiff. I trimmed them with a bread knife first, and then ran a paring knife around inside rim of the ramekins before inverting the puddings onto plates. Dish up! Serve warm with Ginger Creme Anglaise and a few sliced strawberries. Excellent with a cuppa!
Adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques, Suzanne Coin
1/2 pound fresh Strawberries
1/2 pound Rhubarb
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup white wine or Champagne
3/4 teaspoons cornstarch
Remove stems from strawberries and slice. Cut the rhubarb stalks in half lengthwise, and slice crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces.
Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, and scrape the seeds and pulp into a medium pan. Add the vanilla pod, sugar, and 2 tablespoons of water. Without stirring, bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue cooking for about 8 minutes, swirling the pan once in a while, until you have a deep golden brown caramel. Add the rhubarb and the wine. The caramel will seize up and harden slightly. Turn the heat down to medium and stir constantly with a wooden spoon, breaking up the rhubarb and softening the caramel again. Add the strawberries and 1/2 cup of water, and cook for about 2 more minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and strain the strawberry-rhubarb mixture over a bowl. Return the juices to the pan, and bring to a bowl over medium-high heat.
In the meantime, stir 1 tablespoon water in the cornstarch to make a slurry. Whisk the slurry into the juices in the pan, and let it come back to a boil, stirring continuously. Cook over medium heat a few minutes, until the liquid is shiny and thickened. Pour the liquid back into the bowl, and stir in the strawberries and rhubarb. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Ginger Creme Anglaise
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse
(Makes 2 cups; can be made up to 2 days in advance)
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 tablespoon minced ginger
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
Heat the heavy cream, milk, vanilla bean and minced ginger in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Place the egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof mixing bowl and beat until pale yellow in color and all of the sugar has dissolved. Add about 1/2 a cup of the hot cream mixture to the egg mixture and whisk vigorously to combine. Add the egg mixture to the saucepan with the hot cream mixture and cook, stirring constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon. Be sure to stir in the corners of the pot and lower the heat slightly. Stir the mixture for 4 to 5 minutes or until the custard has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the stove and strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Place the bowl in another bowl half-filled with ice and water and stir occasionally until thoroughly chilled. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Would I make these again? Actually, I was chuffed to bits. The puddings tasted like a cross between sponge and pound cake, and were very moist and light. Quite frankly, I think butter would work fine in this form of English sponge pudding. Suet may be preferred when making the suet crust puddings. Horses for courses. I absolutely loved the Strawberry-Rhubarb compote, which could be spooned over ice cream, pound cake, or used in an upside side cake. It took the biscuit and was over the moon. The original recipe calls for only rhubarb, and the rhubarb compote is served over Vanilla Semfreddo. The Ginger Creme Anglaise was also the mutt's nuts, with the ginger complementing the strawberries and rhubarb quite nicely.
Please visit The Daring Kitchen Recipe Archive, here, for the recipes and links Esther provided for our challenge. Please also stop by the Daring Bakers' blogroll, here, to see some of the bloody marvelous puddings the other Daring Bakers created this month.
Although Diver appears to be feeling right knackered, he thought the suet cracklings were the dog's bollocks!
Cheerio! Toodle pip! TTFN!