Fruity steamed pudding with Madeira sauce

This is the perfect dish for a cold rainy day.  There are few dishes as warming as a British steamed pudding - they are still regarded as an ultimate comfort food.  The original and heartiest versions were made with suet and studded with dried vine fruit, but in the nineteenth century, slightly lighter recipes were developed with the invention of raising agents and the liberal use of different types of fruit and sugar.   Ive adapted the two methods to create a lighter modern version. The Madeira sauce originates from the nineteenth century and adds a further warming glow to the eater.

This recipe illustrates the importance of temperature in my latest book Sight Smell Touch Taste Sound A New Way to Cook (see Books page).

Serves 8

55g/2oz raisins

55g/2oz sultanas

55g/2oz currants

55g/2oz chopped mixed candied peel

3 tbsp brandy

175g/6oz unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

175g/6oz light brown muscavado sugar

tsp mixed spice

finely grated zest of 2 lemons

juice of 1 lemon

3 medium eggs, lightly beaten

175g/6oz self-raising flour, sifted

85g/3oz fresh white breadcrumbs

115g/4oz peeled, cored and roughly grated cooking apple

For the sauce

250ml/9 fl oz  rich (sweet) Madeira

85g/3oz caster sugar

15g/ oz arrowroot

3 tbsp cold water

juice of 1 lemon

Place the raisins, sultanas, currants, candied peel and brandy in a sealed container and shake.  Ideally leave for 4-5 days, (although 24 hours will suffice) mixing regularly.

Take 8 x150ml/5 fl oz pudding basins.  Using the bottom of a basin as a template, draw 8 circles on some baking parchment.  Use the top of a basin to draw 8 more circles.  Liberally butter the basins, then line the bottom of the small basins with the small discs.  Cut 7 squares of foil large enough to be fit over the basin tops. 

Preheat the oven to fan 200˚C/220˚C/425˚F/gas mark 7. 

In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, mixed spice and lemon zest until pale and fluffy, then beat in half the beaten eggs.  Fold half the flour into the butter mixture, followed by the remaining eggs, breadcrumbs, juice of 1 lemon, and grated apple. Finally fold in the remaining flour and the macerated dried fruit with any liquid. 

Divide the mixture between the pudding basins the mixture will need a little space at the top as it rises slightly on cooking. Cover with a disc of parchment and then a square of foil, tucking the foil around the rim of the basins to neatly form a baggy seal.  Place the basins in a small roasting pan.  Pour in enough boiling water to come over halfway up the sides of the basins.  Cover the pan with foil and cook in the oven for 1 hour.

Remove from the puddings from the oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes. The sponge will shrink back slightly, making it easier to turn out. 

Meanwhile, make the sauce.  Put the Madeira and sugar in a small saucepan and bring up to simmering point.  Place the arrowroot in a small bowl and gradually stir in the cold water, followed by the lemon juice, until you have a smooth white paste.  Slowly stir the hot Madeira into the arrowroot before returning the mixture to the saucepan.  Set over a low heat and keep stirring until it has thickened and turned clear. 

Turn out each pudding, removing the baking paper as you do so.  Serve liberally drizzled with the hot sauce.


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