Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Traditional British Pudding

Daring Bakers Logo- Vanilla Fairy

Our Daring Bakers host for the month, Esther of The Lilac Kitchen must have been reading my mind because she choose the one item that I have been dying to make for the last 4 1/2 years, a very British steamed pudding.  Specifically, spotted dick.  My roommate and I ate numerous servings of spotted dick and custard at a nearby chip shop when we were studying in London.  Of course, at first we giggled at the name being the immature college kids we were at the time but we definitely weren't giggling when we chowed down on the delicious spongy puddings.  Since then I've wanted to try and recreate the recipe at home but I had no idea where to start.  Here are some pictures of that first taste.


Sigh...yummy memories.

A reader sent me a recipe a few months ago and it has been on my to do list since.  I did use the recipe provided by Esther for the purposes of this challenge, though it was very similar to the one I was given previously.  Now that I've made this version and know how simple it is to make, I will definitely be making the other version as soon as I can.

I didn't have the traditional ingredient of currants handy so I used dried cranberries instead.  I also substituted crisco for suet.  No matter where I looked, I could not find fresh or boxed suet.  My only option was to buy online so I just used criso since I had plenty in the pantry.

Another baker suggested steaming the puddings in the oven versus on the stove top.  This was perfect for me because I didn't have the necessary equipment to steam on the stove top but I could use what I had for the oven.  I decided to make 3 smaller puddings from the full recipe and cooked them in 3-6oz ramekins.  I cooked them at 280° for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Steamed British Pudding

Steamed British Pudding

They came out perfectly!  I didn't have any major leakage with the oven steaming though one rose to the edge of the ramekin.  Taste wise they were almost exactly as I remembered (minus the cranberries of course).  Buttery, lemony, rich, and well...just plain amazing.  I'm not sure how to describe it adequately.  A slightly lemony sponge cake studded with tart cranberries that was so wonderfully delicious.  And positively sinful.  

Steamed British Pudding

I topped the pudding with a homemade custard sauce that I was less than pleased with.  This made a great dessert and a wonderful breakfast the next day.  For breakfast, I served it slightly heated up and without the custard sauce.

Thanks to our host Esther for the great recipe!  I'll have to try the other type of pudding (suet crust) that she offered as well.  I had a tasty steak (no kidney pie) in near Windsor Castle that I would love to try again.

To see more variations of traditional British puddings, have a look at the Daring Bakers blogroll!   

Type 1 Puddings — suet crusts.

Pudding Crust for both Savoury Pudding or Sweet Pudding (using suet or a suet substitute):
(250 grams/12 ounces) Self-raising flour (Note* If you cannot find self-raising flour, use a combination of all-purpose flour and baking powder.)
(175 grams/6 ounces) Shredded suet or suet substitute (i.e., Vegetable Suet, Crisco, Lard)
(a pinch) Salt and pepper (Note* If making a savory dish, can be replaced with spices for sweet if wished.)
(210 millilitres/a little less than a cup) Water (Note* You can use a milk or a water and milk mix for a richer pastry.)
1. Mix the flour and suet together.
2. Season the flour and suet mixture with salt and pepper if savory and just a bit of salt and/or spices if sweet.
3. Add the water, a tablespoonful at a time, as you mix the ingredients together. Make up the pastry to firm an elastic dough that leaves the bowl clean. The liquid amounts are only an estimate and most recipes just say water to mix.
4. Don’t over handle the pastry or it will be too hard.
5. Reserve a quarter for the lid and roll out the rest and line a well-greased bowl.
6. At this point add your filling.. a couple of options are give below but have fun and go wild!
7. Roll the final piece of pastry out into a circle big enough to cover the top of the basin, dampen the edges and put in position on the pudding, pinching the edges together to seal.
8. Seal well and cover with a double sheet of foil – pleated in the centre to allow room for expansion while cooking. Secure with string, and place it in a steamer over boiling water.
9. Steam for up to 5 hours, you may need to add more boiling water halfway through or possibly more often. There is a lot of leeway in this steaming time and different recipes give different steaming times. Delia Smith says 5 hours for Steak and kidney where as Mrs Beeton says 2.5 for a similar dish! One way to tell that it is cooked is when the pastry changes colour and goes from white to a sort of light golden brown. It is also hard to over steam a pudding so you can leave it bubbling away until you are ready.

Savoury Pudding Filling options: steak and kidney pudding.
1 full amount of suet crust (see recipe above)
(450 grams/about 1 pound) Chuck steak
(225 grams/about 1/2 a pound) Ox kidney
1 medium-sized onion
2 teaspoons well-seasoned flour
splash of Worcestershire sauce
1. Chop the steak and kidney into fairly small cubes, toss them in seasoned flour, then add them to the pastry lined basin.
2. Pop the onion slices in here and there.
3. Add enough cold water to reach almost to the top of the meat and sprinkle in a few drops of Worcestershire sauce and season with salt and pepper.
4. Follow the rest of the instructions in the crust recipe to finish pudding.
5. Cook for at least 2.5 hours (Mrs Beeton) up to 5 hours (Delia Smith).
Sweet Pudding Options: Sussex Pond Pudding
1 amount of suet pastry (see recipe above)
(120 grams/4.2 ounces) Demerara Sugar
(120 grams/4.2 ounces) unsalted butter
1 large lemon
1. Cut the butter into small pieces and put half in the basin with half the sugar.
2. Prick the whole lemon (preferably one with a thin skin) all over, using a thick skewer.
3. Place on top of the butter and sugar in the basin.
4. Cover with the rest of the butter and sugar.
5. Finish building the pudding as per the pastry recipe.
6. Steam for 3 ½ hours, or longer (for a really tender lemon), adding more water if needed.
7. To serve, turn the pudding into a dish with a deep rim, when you slice into it the rich lemon sauce will gush out.
8. Make sure each person is served some of the suet crust, lemon and tangy luscious sauce.
Type 2 puddings – Steamed Suet Pudding, sponge type.
(100 grams/4 ounces) All-purpose flour
(1/4 teaspoon) salt
(1.5 teaspoons) Baking powder
(100 grams/4 ounces) breadcrumbs
(75 grams/3 ounces) Caster sugar
(75 grams/ 3 ounces) Shredded suet or suet substitute (i.e., Vegetable Suet, Crisco, Lard)
(1) large egg
(6 to 8 tablespoons) Cold milk
1. Sift flour, salt and baking powder into bowl.
2. Add breadcrumbs, sugar and suet.
3. Mix to a soft batter with beaten egg and milk
4. Turn into a buttered 1 litre/ 2pint pudding basin and cover securely with buttered greaseproof paper or aluminum foil.
5. Steam steadily for 2.5 to 3 hours
6. Turn out onto warm plate, Serve with sweet sauce to taste such as custard, caramel or a sweetened fruit sauce.
Spotted Dick - Add 75g/ 3oz currants and 25g/1 oz of mixed chopped peel with the sugar.Syrup or Treacle or Marmalade Pudding – put 2 Tablespoons of golden syrup, treacle or marmalade at the bottom of the bowl before adding pudding mix.My Fair Lady Pudding – Add finely grated rind of 1 medium orange or lemon with the sugar.Ginger Pudding – replace the sugar with 100g/4oz of treacle, and add 1/2 tsp ground ginger.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Smoked Paprika Oven Fries

Smoked Paprika Oven Fries

After a year of living on the bottom floor and not the third like I had for over 2 years, I've gained a bit of weight. You never realize how much exercise you actually get going up and down three flights of stairs many, many, many times a day. I've been working out a few times a week on the treadmill (while watching TV) but that can get a bit boring after a while. I think I've seen nearly every episode of Cash Cab now. Now that spring is here (or that two week period in Texas where it's actually cool and not the scorching heat of summer), Charlie and I have been walking around my apartment complex twice a day (it's .8 miles around in case you were wondering). That has helped in the fitness department but I still wanted to improve the way I ate.  In an attempt to not only eat healthier and lose weight, I bought the Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook.  I didn't want to join Weight Watchers because I'm cheap but I did want to have  a book of recipes based on their program that I could use to do it on my own.

The first recipe I made was the Oven "Fries" on page 358.  I love french fries, the greasier, cheesier the better.  But I know that such a dish is not in anyway good for me.  Unless I want to add to the giggle on my thighs.  And since that is obviously not something I'm interested in doing, I've been looking for a healthier oven baked fry.  Typically, I've lightly coated the potatoes in olive oil with a little salt and a little dried parsley.  While these are very tasty, they lacked the crunch that really makes a good fry.

Smoked Paprika Oven Fries

In the Weight Watchers recipe, the potatoes are coated in a mixture of oil and paprika.  Right away I new that I wanted to use the smoked paprika that I bought at Penzey's (I love having a location nearby!) a few weeks ago and have been dying to use.  I also changed the oil to olive oil because I love the taste of olive oil over vegetable or canola oil.  For my potatoes, I used red versus the baking potato because I prefer the flavor and texture.

A really great tip they give at the beginning of the recipe is to soak the potatoes in a cold water with a little with a bit of salt and sugar.  This supposedly draws some of the potatoes' own water out so they actually brown and crisp rather than steam in the oven.  I've never tried that before but if they say it makes the fries brown better and get crispy, I'm all for trying it.

While these were in the oven, my apartment smelled amazing.  The smoked paprika gave off such a warm, smoky scent when they were in the hot oven.  And the taste more than lived up to the smell.  The fries were slightly smoky but not overwhelmingly so.  With a little ketchup to dip, it was a great addition to lunch.  And where they crispy?  Oh yes. Perfectly crisp and crunchy, just like you had fried them traditionally.  Only they were healthier and so much better to eat.

Smoked Paprika Oven Fries

Oven "Fries"
adapted from Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook

makes 4 servings

1 1/4 pounds red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch strips
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Preheat the oven to 450°F, line a baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, combine the potato strips, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the sugar with enough cold water to cover the potato strips.  Soak for at least 15 minutes then drain and blot dry.

Drying out the same bowl or in a new large bowl, combine the potato strips with the olive oil and smoked paprika (I added a pinch of salt here as well). Toss until all of the potato strips are coated evenly.  Spread evenly on the lined baking sheet and bake for about 40 minutes or until they are cooked through and crisp.  Turn at least once during cooking.  Sprinkle with remaining salt after baking if desired.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

TWD: Swedish Visiting Cake


This week's Tuesdays with Dorie selection is Swedish Visiting Cake chosen by Nancy of The Dogs Eat the Crumbs.    This is another one that has been on my want to make list since I picked up the book.  It looked delicious and the idea of making it in a cast iron skillet sounded more exciting than a cake pan honestly.

Swedish Visiting Cake

The cake was delicious and so quick to put together.  Any cake that takes less than 10 minutes to make (not including letting the butter cool. But that was hands off so...) is on the right track to being something good to me.  I was worried that the almond extract would overpower the rest of the cake but it was just the right amount.  I'm not sure if this cake was meant for breakfast or not, but I certainly enjoyed it at breakfast and lunch and dessert.  It was a great cake for anytime of the day actually.

Swedish Visiting Cake

I thought about sharing this with my coworkers but I didn't.  I know...it was selfish of me and probably not in the spirit of a 'visiting' cake but the cake was just too tasty to share.  Maybe next time I'll be nice.

Another make again cake to add to the list.  Thanks Nancy for the great pick!

To get this week's recipe, check out page 197 of Baking or head over to Nancy's blog.  For more swedish visiting cake, see the TWD blogroll here.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

TWD: Mocha-Pecan Marbled Bundt Cake


Erin of When in Doubt…Leave it at 350 chose Mocha-Walnut Marbled Bundt Cake for our next Tuesdays with Dorie recipe.  I actually made this recipe before last week's Coconut Tea Cake but I decided to follow the posting order even though we could do either one because of the Easter holiday this weekend.  

Mocha-Pecan Marbled Bundt Cake

I made half of a recipe and got 4 good size mini bundts out of it.  I probably could have gotten six out of it but they would have been pretty small.  This size was a nice single person portion.    

Mocha-Pecan Marbled Bundt Cake

I did the minimal marbling option and was quite happy with the results.  I'm not sure if it's in a ginkgo leaf pattern but it looks pretty nice to me.  Taste wise it was very nice.  I liked the subtle pecan flavor without the crunchy bits (though I'm sure that would be good too).  I didn't get a very strong coffee flavor but not being a huge coffee fan, it wasn't a big deal.  The chocolate did get a boost from the coffee I think, it seemed chocolatey-er (ummm...yeah...chocolatey-er).

The cake was also incredibly moist.  I took it to work for breakfast a few days and it was just as moist the third day as it was the first.  This was definitely a make again cake.  Thanks Erin for the delicious pick!

You can find the recipe on pages 180 and 181 of Baking or at Erin's blog.  For more of either the Coconut Tea Cake or the Mocha-Walnut (or pecan!) Marbled Bundt Cake, check out the TWD blogroll.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Avocado Ice Cream


Avocados have long been one of my favorite things to eat. A nice, perfectly ripe avocado is creamy and smooth...almost buttery in taste. Being a native Texan, I eat avocados most often in our Tex-Mex cuisine. But I love sliced avocados on burgers, pizza, sandwiches, and after tasting the avocado egg rolls at California Pizza Kitchen, I'm a fan of using them in that way as well. One thing I had never considered using the avocado in was in a sweet rather than savory form.

However, considering that in places such as Brazil, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia, pureed avocado is mixed with sugar, water, or milk to make a dessert drink, I shouldn't be so surprised that it can be used in sweets. In Kenya, it is also eaten just like we eat apples, either alone or in a mixed fruit salad. (See Wikipedia here for more ways avocado is used around the world.)

Now I can admit to eating an avocado plain like I would an apple. You could add a little salt and lime but it is near perfect on its own. The only problem with avocados is that you have to use them fairly quick if you find some ripe ones at the store. They can go bad too quickly if you don't. More often than not, I find avocados in the store that are too hard so when I find nicely ripe ones, I jump at the chance to get them. I just have to figure out what to do with them. Obviously, guacamole is the first thing I have to make. This time I decided to be different with the rest that I bought and make some ice cream. Luckily I had just purchased David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop and there was a very tasty looking avocado ice cream within.

I told an avocado addicted co-worker about my plans and he of course gave me an 'are you crazy?!' look. Like me, he had never considered eating avocados in anyway other than savory. I told him I had faith it would be tasty but he just laughed and told me to let him know how it went.

I followed David's recipe as he wrote it, other than using low fat sour cream because it's all I had. The pureed mix was a beautiful shade of pale green. I tried a little taste just to see how it was going to be. You could definitely taste the avocado but it was slightly sweetened because of the sugar and the sour cream gave it a really nice tang.

After a quick churn in my ice cream maker, it was ready to go. Literally, it only churned for maybe 10 minutes because it was so thick to begin with. I couldn't resist and stole another taste to see how the avocado flavor had fared. It wasn't as strong as pre-freeze. It had toned down enough to be delightfully subtle but it was strong enough that you know what kind of ice cream it was. I quickly packed it up and put it in the freezer to firm up some more.

Avocado Ice Cream

When it was time for dessert, I served the ice cream on top of a slice of the coconut tea cake that I made for Tuesdays with Dorie recently. An odd combo to be sure but somehow it worked wonderfully together. The avocado ice cream was sweet, tangy, and perfectly avocado in taste.  It was amazingly delicious.

I will definitely make this ice cream again! Because I made the recipe as written and made no major changes, I'm not going to post the published recipe. To get this recipe, check out The Perfect Scoop. Based on this one recipe and all the others I want to make soon, it is definitely worth it in my opinion to pick up the book.

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