Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Daring Bakers - Traditional British Pudding

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.

The challenge this month was to make a traditional British pudding using suet as one of the ingredients. From the beginning I was nervous because I had never made, nor even seen a British pudding, and I had no idea what suet was. For those of you that are thinking the same thing here is a brief description of both.

Not being British it took me a bit to wrap my head around the fact that they use the word "pudding" to mean many different things. "Pudding" can be a black pudding and white pudding, a sort of meat and grain sausage. It is also used as a generic word for dessert. It also can be any dish cooked in a pudding bowl or pudding cloth, normally steamed or boiled but sometimes baked. And finally, as an endearment (for example, "How are you today my pudding?"). For this challenge the third meaning, a dish cooked in a pudding bowl or cloth, applies.

Now, on to suet. Suet is the hard but flaky fat found on the inside of a cow or sheep around the kidneys and that area of the body. Suet in its raw form crumbles easily into small chunks. It also melts at quite a low temperature, which has an effect on how it works in cooking. Suet can be rendered, which is basically melting it and then straining out any larger pieces, or it can be used in its raw form. So basically we would be making our own shortening.

For this challenge we were given the option of making a savory or a sweet pudding, and total control over the ingredients even to the point of substituting butter or margarine for suet. The method of cooking was the main component of this challenge and we were given the option to steam or boil the pudding. As I started pouring over recipes I realized that there were a lot of options. I also knew that I wanted to make a savory and a sweet. When I came across this video showing how to make Spotted Dick, a traditional British pudding, I knew I had to try it. It is basically a sweet spongecake with golden raisins shaped in the form of a log.

I did use butter in this version because the suet was still frozen from the butcher. The dough was a bit stickier than I thought it would be once it was all mixed together but I was able to get it rolled up decently in the waxed paper. I ended up making two loaves instead of one because of the size of my steamer. You can see that as they steam the loaves swell larger, so they did end up touching each other in the pan but it did not seem to affect their final product. The paper stuck to the spongecake a bit but it maintained its overall structure in spite of it. I made a vanilla custard to go along with it and added some fresh strawberries. My husband and I both thought that the Spotted Dick actually tasted better without the custard but that might be because we are not used to eating custard.

My second British pudding I decided to do a savory pudding with a suet crust. I poured over more recipes and there were a lot, let me repeat a lot, of recipes for steak and kidney pudding. While I know this probably would have been the most traditional I could have gone for I just could not bring myself to buy, cook, and eat kidney. So when I saw this video showing how to make a steak and mushroom pudding I opted for that instead. I did not render the suet, instead I just crumbled it onto the scale to make sure I had the correct amount. There was not much of a smell and it was basically white crumbs, but after crumbling it a bit I did start to get grossed out by the sound it made tearing off the little strips of connective tissue. I could tell it was similar to shortening even at that point when I went to wash my hands and it took hot water and soap to get the greasy feel washed away.

It was very easy to make and tasted delicious, almost like a meat filled pie, but I don't think I'll be making it again, at least not a savory pudding. The savory puddings with a suet crust have to be steamed for about 5 hours and I have learned that 5 hours of steaming is not good for my pocketbook nor my house. Why you ask? First off, my gas stove has got be cranked to about medium high to keep the water boiling which creates the steam, and having the burner on medium high for 5 hours straight uses way more gas than I would ever use to cook a meal. Secondly, I didn't realize that it would put so much condensation into the air that my 110 year old wood framed single pane windows would have water running down the glass and pooling up on the wood frames below. By the way, that process alone created quite the smell. The kitchen smelled great but you would walk out into the living room, dining room, and even our bedroom which is the farthest room away and wonder what the smell was. I realized after my second trip in that it was the wood on my windows releasing an unpleasant odor that only 110 years of being in existence could create. I could have used my slow cooker but there was no way that it would get water up to the boiling point and keep it boiling for the length of time needed to cook the pudding. So while my husband and I enjoyed the final product, we did not enjoy the cooking method as much.

My final pudding was decided on after I saw so many people post the yummiest looking photos of chocolate pudding. I had decided to steer away from chocolate since I do many other desserts with chocolate, but it called my name and since it was relatively easy to do I did it at the same time that the savory pudding was cooking. I'm sure having two steaming pots going, one for 5 hours and the other for about 1 hour, didn't help the dew point being reached in our house. I think that of the three this is the pudding that I would make again. Go figure, it was chocolate. It only took about 45 minutes to steam and it was like an individual serving of chocolate cake. A scoop of ice cream would have gone nicely but I only had a tall glass of cold milk to accompany it. 
This post is already long as it is so I am just going to post the links where I got the recipes instead of actually typing out the entire recipe. Enjoy!

Recipe and Video for Spotted Dick
Recipe and Video for Steak and Mushroom Pudding
Recipe for Very Chocolate Pudding (I made only half of the recipe that is posted and it made two 8 oz. ramekin sized cakes)



Your puds look great! Im particularly impressed with the chocolate pudding. I tried a full sized one today and it just wasnt that great. Im very jealous of yours!


all of your puddings look lovely. i agree that steaming something for 5 hours isnt very economical. hope that your woodwork is ok after it's sauna. :-)

Ruth H.

Your puddings came out beautifully! I steamed mine in the slow cooker, which might save yousome gas costs and worry about your wood! Great job on this challenge!!


These look lovely! And to do multiple versions? Daring indeed! Well done!

shelley c.

Fantastic job on all three - you really did so much research and came up with some fantastic variations! If you have a slow cooker, I would recommend trying that, if you are included to give this method another go - it worked well for us. :) Really great job on all three puddings!!


I love your story about separating the suet from the membrane - I had the same problem with the sound! You are so daring to try all of these different variations. Excellent job!


You went all out and made savory and sweet. They look great. The chocolate was my favorite too - then again that's the only one I made :)

tease-spoon of sugar

Wow - I'm impressed. You kind of put my own efforts to shame! : ) Great blog too.


Beautiful puds! I liked the chocolate, too.


Love all three. Chocolate pudding and ice cold milk, my favorite.:)


Your chocolate one turned out pretty good. I'm onward to making a second one.


Ooh, step by step, I like it! Also, I like it that you made a thing called "spotted dick"...'cause I'm mature like that ;P


Wow, you made two versions, that is impressive! I might have to try the savory version. Well done!


Thanks for your comment, and yours looks delicious! Good job ;)


Wow, i'm amazed you continued even with the smell from the wood frames. great job!


Wow- great job with all your puddings! I'm pretty impressed you hung in there through the third one!


I was a bit grossed out by the suet too--it smelled bad when being rendered. It probably added to your smell problems when making this. Glad you persevered! I too made the chocolate pudding when I saw other people's! I had it with whipped cream and raspberry sauce--yum!


both ur versions have come out beautifully....wonderful !


Three lovely puds there - and I agree, you have to try the spotted dick!


WOW it sounds like all of them were great and tasty and interesting about the 110 year old timber LOL LOL. Wonderful results and marvellous effort. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.


You used real Suet... Awesome.... :)

Nice post... hope the smell in the house is gone...

The Variable, Crazy Over Desserts - Nachiketa
Catch me on facebook @ Crazy Over Desserts


Hey, so we're pudding-twins :)
I love your puddings, all of them!


I agree, the steaming time on the larger pudding prompted me to do mini versions - they're so cute as individual desserts! Nice job on this challenge and thank you for visiting and your compliments on my blog!


Very nice job!! I'm picturing a little rain cloud forming in your kitchen as the dew point rose. :)


awesome work! I wish I could've done it as well :))


Looks wonderful your puddings and what a great looking blog you have!! Thanks for visiting mine by the way ;-)
Congratulations on the challenge! Greetings from Spain!!


I was too scared off by the thought of working with "the savory" (I'm not a cook by nature :P) but your steak and mushroom pudding looks perfect! I may just give it a try. Way to go on this month's challenge and keep up the great bakes :)

Amy Lucille

Beautiful job, and kudos to you for making a sweet and a savory pudding. I love how the whole mushrooms look in the savory pudding. I just got some new ramekins from crate and barrel, gonna have to try a sweet pudding soon.

Sinful Southern Sweets

Great job!! I'd love to try one of the savory pudding. That looks yummy!


yay, we're savory pudding twins! But i have to say, yours looks far more successful than mine ;) Love how you steamed your sweet pudding into a log, the presentation with the strawberries are to die for. Great job on the challenge!

Evelyne @ CheapEthnicEatz

Great three recipes. But what a pain about the smell and humidity ...although I may come over in the winter time to your place to warm up. Craving chocolate now!


I love how all your puddings turned out, the spotted dick looked great and the crust of the savory one was perfect! But I think I like the chocolate pudding the most because it only took 45 minutes to steam :)


I love how all your puddings turned out, the spotted dick looked great and the crust of the savory one was perfect! But I think I like the chocolate pudding the most because it only took 45 minutes to steam :)


I love the rolled version! That looks great with the strawberries.

Barbara Bakes

So fun that you made the Spotted Dick. I thought it would be fun to make a very British sounding one. Very impressive that you made three wonderful puddings.


You used suet and you made 3 puddings! I'm so impressed. The chocolate pudding sounds heavenly...

Reading your entry made me realize what was perhaps my issue! I covered the pot while steaming the pudding. Were we not supposed to? Hmm.

Alex Zeevy

That was quite an adventure! ^_^ I didn't enjoy the cooking process either, not because I had a steam problem, but simply because I always had to keep looking and make sure I didn't ran out of water. I came up with a contraption made of a large skillet and a bamboo steamer, so the water was gone every 10 minutes, which sucked. I really admire your persistence at making 3 puddings! Great job!


I'm impressed with your three versions. Kudos to you that you tried different methods!


Well done for doing three puddings! And hats off to you for using suet :) Have you seen how some of the other Daring Bakers microwaved the puddings and in small cups it took about a minute! Might have to try that version soon.

The savoury pudding looks very delicious, steak and mushroom is such a great combo.


You've done an excellent job with these puddings.
Chocolate's always a winner! :)

bake in paris

Kudos to you for making such variety. Love them all, especially the steak and kidney pudding. Simply scrumptious :-)

Sawadee from Bangkok,


Your puddings look great!! Nice work doing sweet and savoury.


In my opinion not much beats out chocolate! YUM! Nice job on all three of your puddings - that's impressive. I wasn't quite daring enough to take on the savory one, maybe one day...

Fabulous job!


All of yours puddings are beautifully turned out! I agree with you at the conclusion that spends too much gas (money) and time if you do savory puddings, 5 hours od steaming is really too much and it has to be 5 hours if you want them to be good. So, I also will not do them again so very soon. :)


Mmm, I think I'll have to give that chocolate pudding a try!


Nice job on the puddings! They both look yummy!

Ria Mathew

I loved your versions! Good Job! :)


Mmmmm these all sounds so good :) I especially like the sound of the spotted dick and chocolate pudding mm :).

Rosa's Yummy Yums

You did a great job! I especially love your savory pudding. It looks so scrumptious!




Great job! Looks like you really took the time to experiment and try different options! The savoury pudding looks really good - sorry to hear it cost so much!


Well done on making them all! Your chocolate pudding looks delicious!

Vivian - Let's Try These...

thanks for visiting my blog... your puddings look awesome! Love the name of your blog :-)


Ciao ! I love all your versions !!!The chocolate one sounds fantastic !!


I didn't enjoy this steaming procedure, either. Next time I'd use butter, too because with suet, it was not that good.
Great job :)