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'm not going to lie... I contemplated skipping this challenge. The image of suet intimidated me as did the steaming, which was a foreign concept for anything other than vegetables. But when I saw the time and thought Esther put into addressing everyone's concerns I knew I had to at least try.
Luckily I had the day off work yesterday to recover from a long weekend visiting a friend in Minneapolis because between putting this together, which took me much longer than 20 minutes, and steaming the three little ramekins for 2.5-3 hours I needed the time. I replaced the suet with Spectrum's Vegetable Shortening to create a vegetarian version with a simple, improvised Pea, Shallot and Mushroom filling.
While totally edible (and I'm proud because for once I chose the savory side!), I'm not thrilled with my results. I suspect I did something wrong as my dough was super, super moist after a mere two tablespoons of water and that can't be right! I used the provided measurements though so what can a girl do? Perhaps I'll try the sweet version sometime in the future and have better success.
In the meantime I'll eat my remaining ramekin tomorrow. It is warm, filling and the crust is nice and flaky so that is satisfying enough for these rainy days.
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...I used Spectrum's Vegetable Shortening.)
(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.
Pea, Mushroom and Shallot Filling
(This makes way more than enough to fill 3 ramekins. I plan to eat the rest in pseudo-quesadillas with brie and whole wheat tortillas.)
1 bag Frozen Peas
1 tbsp Olive Oil
3 Small Shallots, finely chopped
1 pint Pre-Sliced Baby Bellas, sliced in half away
1 tsp. Dried Thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste
1ish tbsp Flour to coat mixture
Steam frozen peas. Heat olive oil. Add finely chopped shallot and saute for 3-5 minutes until slightly brown. Add mushrooms and saute 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in thyme, salt and pepper to taste and flour.