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Old-fashioned steamed puddings... always in vogue for Christmas

Posted: December 17, 2013 - 3:07pm  |  Updated: December 18, 2013 - 9:47am

If you had planned to make an authentic Christmas pudding weeks ago, one that needed aging before it could be eaten on Christmas, and just didn’t get around to it, don’t worry. You can still make Figgy Pudding, or Date-Nut Sticky Toffee Pudding, both of which are tightly covered, steamed on a rack over simmering water and cooked for enjoying the same day they are made. Pudding molds or basins are ideal for making either of these puddings, but a deep ovenproof bowl will do, as well. Whenever you are lifting the lids off pots or foods that are involved in steaming, be it to add more water to the cooking pan, or to check to see if a steamed food is done, make sure you allow the steam to escape slowly from the side furthest away from you to avoid getting a steam burn. If you think you might get distracted during the steaming process and there’s a chance your steaming pot could run dry, place a fork beneath the steaming rack. You’ll hear it knocking around while there’s still water remaining in the pan. Steamed puddings are glorious served with sauce, be it hard sauce, toffee sauce or your favorite soft custard sprinkled with a little fresh ground nutmeg. Steamed puddings have been a time-honored tradition at holiday tables for centuries. Maybe it’s time to make the tradition one of yours.

 

Sue Ade is a syndicated food columnist with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at kitchenade@yahoo.com or 843-683-0375.

FIGGY PUDDING

1 cup chopped Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Calimyrna or Mission Figs, stems removed

¼ cup brandy

¼ cup water

½ cup buttermilk

1/3 cup butter, at room temperature

½ cup packed brown sugar

1 large egg

¾ cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon each: salt and ground cinnamon

1/16 teaspoon each: ground cloves and ground ginger

½ cup chopped, toasted pecans

¼ cup raisins

 

Hard sauce recipe follows

In small saucepan, combine figs, brandy and ¼ cup water. Cover, bring to a boil over high heat then reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Cool to lukewarm. Drain figs, discarding liquid. Reserve 1/3 cup figs. Purée remaining figs with buttermilk in food processor. In bowl of electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and creamy. On low speed, beat in egg. Mix flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Beat in flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk mixture. Stir in reserved figs, pecans and raisins. Spoon into buttered 4-cup ovenproof bowl or baking dish. Cover tightly with a piece of buttered foil. To steam, place a rack in the bottom of large stockpot. Add boiling water to depth of 1 inch. Cover pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently for 65 to 75 minutes (replenish boiling water if needed) or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let sit for 5 minutes. Invert onto serving plate. Serve with hard sauce. Makes 8 servings.

 

¼ cup (½ stick) butter, room temperature

¾ cup sifted powdered sugar

4 teaspoons brandy

 

Beat butter with electric mixer until light and creamy. Gradually beat in powdered sugar. Beat in brandy. Cover and chill. Makes about ½ cup.

 

DATE-NUT STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING

¼ cup honey, divided

1 cup pitted dates, finely snipped

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ cup boiling water

1/3 cup butter

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1 cup self-rising flour

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon allspice

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

½ cup milk

1 large egg, lightly beaten

½ cup chopped, toasted pecans


Toffee sauce (recipe follows)

Butter a 6-cup pudding mold (or deep ovenproof bowl of equal capacity), including the lid. (If you do not have a lid, use a piece of aluminum foil in its place.) Pour 2 tablespoons of the honey into the mold; set aside. Combine the dates, soda and boiling water in in a medium mixing bowl and allow to stand for 15 minutes. While the date mixture is standing, combine the butter, sugar and remaining 2 tablespoons of honey in a small saucepan, stirring over low heat until the mixture is smooth. Pour butter mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer. Combine the flour with spices. With mixer set to low, add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture in the bowl. Mix in milk, then egg, blending just until mixed. Stir in dates, including liquid; mix in pecans. Spread mixture into the prepared mold. Cover the pudding with the mold’s lid. (If your mold is not equipped with a lid, cover the mold with buttered aluminum foil turning the edges of the foil down and pressing it tightly against the mold’s sides. Tie the foil onto the mold with kitchen string to secure.) Place the pudding on a rack set inside a large kettle (or Dutch oven). Pour enough water into the kettle to come about three-quarters of the way up the sides of the mold. Bring the water to a boil, cover pot tightly and reduce heat to its lowest point. Steam for 1 hour, checking water supply to replenish, as needed. Remove pan from heat. Carefully lift mold from water, allowing to stand for 5 minutes. Remove lid, then invert onto a plate. Serve warm with toffee sauce. Serves 8.

EASY TOFFEE SAUCE

1 cup packed light brown sugar

½ cup heavy cream

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Pinch salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 

Mix all the ingredients, except the vanilla in a small saucepan. Over medium-low heat, whisk until mixture is smooth and thickens, about 8 minutes. Serve warm. Makes about 1½ cups.

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