The year is drawing to a close, and I want to share my most exciting and unsuspected culinary discovery with you: steamed puddings. They are not part of my own culinary heritage, and until I made my own, I only ever came across it in institutionalised form - o horror of horrors! I thought it was a peculiarly English perversion that sane people would stay clear off. I never imagined I would eat a steamed pudding ever again, or even bother making one myself, far less enjoying it! Well, it's always worth keeping an open mind, in particular with regard to food. The man who changed my mind is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, although he does not know it. One of my (much appreciated) Christmas presents is his "River Cottage every day". It includes many delightful recipes, including one for a Lemon Sponge Pudding. The picture was appetizing and I happened to have the ingredients at hand, so I made this for our Christmas Day desert. What unimagined delight! I discovered that steamed puddings are easy to make, delicious warm, while any left-overs can be eaten cold as cake. Our lemon sponge disappeared too quickly to be recorded on film, but such was my excitement about this new type of food that I made a chocolate sponge pudding the following day, along the lines of Huggie's lemon recipe; I'll give those ingredients in brackets so you can duplicate both. Which was better? My family loved the chocolate version, while I adore lemony deserts, so both had their fans...
Steamed Chocolate Sponge Pudding
25 g muscovado sugar
a little cream (juice of one lemon)
pure cocoa and chocolate flakes (grated lemon zest, juice of another lemon)
100 g unsalted butter
100 g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Dissolve the sugar in the cream (lemon juice), and pour into a pudding basin. In lieu of one, use a heat-proof ceramic bowl. Make a batter of the remaining ingredients: mix together butter, cocoa (lemon zest) and sugar, add the eggs, then flour and baking powder. Stir in the chocolate flakes (lemon juice). Spoon the batter on top of the sugary liquid,
cover the bowl with a double sheet of aluminium foil and tie a string: around the bowl to hold the foil in place, then make a handle so that you shall be able to take it out of the pot.
Place a small upturned saucer in the bottom of a large sauce pan, place the pudding bowl on top and pour water half-way up the pudding basin.