When I was asked to cook my favourite pudding for a bake-off with Debbie, Craig and Claire, my only hesitation was 'how do I choose my favourite?' It's no secret that I love my food – puddings in particular – but in the end I decided to show you one of the dishes I cook as a finale to Sunday lunch when we have friends joining us.
Steamed syrup pud -it gives maximum pleasure for the least amount of time and effort – a nursery favourite that takes moments to prepare and can then be left to fend for itself. And it doesn't matter if lunch runs late (which mine invariably does!) – it won't be spoilt.
To serve 8 you'll need:
Several spoonfuls golden syrup
8oz wholemeal flour
8oz soft brown sugar
4 tsps baking powder
A plastic, glass or ceramic bowl with a little lip on the rim
You can use white flour and sugar if you prefer, or muscovado sugar for a more treacly taste. I use olive oil spread, but any soft butter or margarine is fine. Eggs are medium or large – whatever I have in the fridge. I use lots of syrup but you could use less and warm some up as a pouring sauce to serve with the pudding. There are no rules!
If you want to serve 4, just halve the recipe and reduce the steaming time by about half an hour. I sometimes make a 12oz recipe to serve a crowd. It's also lovely cold for breakfast! (Don't tell anyone that I said that, though!)
1. Firstly, smear butter all around the bowl, then pour or spoon the syrup into the bowl.
2. Put all the other ingredients into another bowl and beat or whizz in a mixer until combined and you have a cake mix. Pour this into the bowl on top of the syrup and smooth to a flattish surface with a spoon.
3. Tear a piece of foil about one and a half times larger than the diameter of the bowl. Fold slightly to one side of halfway, and then fold back an inch from the first fold, so that you have a pleat in the centre. (To allow the foil to expand so that it doesn't tear.) If your foil is thin you may prefer to use double thickness, or you can use a layer of greaseproof paper and then the foil.
4. Place this over the bowl, fold down around it and tie tightly in place with the string. You can create a handle for easy lifting by taking the loose end over to the other side and tying in place.
5. Place in a steamer, or a large pan with a trivet or an upturned saucer and an inch or two of water in the bottom. Bring the water to the boil, turn down to simmer and put a good fitting lid on.
6. Leave to steam for two hours (three will be fine if you're running late), pour yourself a drink and relax with your family and friends.
7. When ready to serve, carefully remove the pudding from the pan, cut the string and take off the foil. Upturn a serving plate or dish onto the bowl and turn it all over, so the pudding slips out of the bowl onto the plate. It's delicious served with hot custard, cream, ice cream – or all three!
With the clocks springing forward very soon the season for syrup pud is coming to an end again, but this pudding is so versatile it can suit any occasion with a few tweaks…
1. Try adding the zest and juice of a lemon to the cake mix, and replace the syrup with plenty of lemon curd – mmm! Serve with cream or vanilla ice cream. Mouth-wateringly fresh!
2. Or, simply pile some mixed berries (I keep a bag of frozen berries in the freezer for smoothies and crumbles) into the bottom of the bowl before adding the cake mix.
3. How about chocolate? Replace some of the flour with cocoa, and break some (or lots!) of chocolate into the bowl – it will melt and flow down the pudding as a delectable sauce when you turn out the pudding.
4. Add a touch of sophisticated spice with stem ginger in syrup in the bowl, with ground ginger in the cake mix.
5. Dried fruit such as sultanas, raisins and chopped dried apricots will give you the pleasure of spotted dick without the suet.
Just adapt this pudding to use your own favourite flavours – if you have any more ideas I'd love to hear them. Just post on this blog and we can all vote on our favourite variation. And do let me know if you try this – especially if it's the first time you've steamed a pudding. I promise you, there's really nothing to go wrong and even confirmed pudding non-eaters usually succumb to this one!
I hope you love it too!
See all the bake-off videos and don't forget to vote for your favourite!