Daring Bakers, April: Traditional British Pudding
Actually, perhaps this month, we should call ourselves the Daring Steamers!
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.
Here's the recipe on Esther's page.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find suet (pronounced SUU-it), but regardless, it was not supposed to look like this:
This is my headless steak and onion pudding.
Except from my post on the DB forum today:
It's do-or-die day, and I'm at home, hobbled with some sort of tendon injury. I kept putting the challenge off while I tried to find suet, but I wasn't able to find suet in all of Metro Phoenix (any Phoenicians out there able to?). I almost passed on the challenge, but Audax's description of the steak and kidney pie were irresistible (way to pitch it, Audax). I couldn't find kidney, either, but I didn't try as hard with that one. Instead, I've got a steak and onion pie in the stock pot, atop a precariously improvised steamer. I used shortening for my crust. It's horrible.
Pie crust recipes that don't work out for me reduce me to such a blubbering baby. The first time I tried to roll it out, it stuck. The second time I rolled it out, I floured the bench liberally, and when I tried to move the crust, it cracked and broke everywhere. I turned it into a "pat-into-the-pan" crust, despite Esther's warning that overhandling would turn the crust tough. I tried to do better with the lid, but again, it was like a bull in a china shop--breaking everywhere, right on top of the filling, so I just pushed the floating islands of crust together best as I could, flopped the excess side crust down on top (it cracked at the fold), then vanished into my happy place, auto-piloting through covering the improvised pudding dish (a stainless steel bowl that's taller than it is wide, at least) with foil, tying it around the rim to keep the water out (laughable, since the inside is as open as a public swimming pool in the middle of summer), and there it steams. Unless it's all tipped over, in which case, there it spills. Dinner will be late tonight, since I'm going to try to steam it for all of 5 hours. I'm going to try to improvise a sweet pudding in some coffee cups and my smaller steamer. Wish me luck!
Chuck, onions, and herbs.
The failed puddin' head. The topping crumbled as I tried to put it on top of the pudding, and the sides cracked at the edges as I tried to fold them down over the top. Fail!
I much prefer the look of it all tied up. I made sure it was tied tightly enough to keep steam from creeping up under the foil and into the pudding--that would've made it wet--wetter than just having large cracks in the top crust made it, I reckon.
I improvised a giant steamer using my big crockpot and a precariously balanced steam tray inside. The tray had a stick and ring coming out of the middle for lifting the tray out, so I couldn't just open it up and use it as I'm supposed to--I flipped it over so I could balance my improvised pudding bowl (a bowl that's taller than it is wide) on top of it. I opened up the tray part to help balance. It didn't work--the pudding toppled to the side a bit, but it wasn't tilted, so I left it as is and steamed it for 5 (fraggin' long) hours.
The edges of the top crust were all right--flaky as it should be--but as expected, the center was mush and brainy-looking (not to be confused with smart-looking).
Oh yeah--the recipe said to roll the dough out and line the bowl, but since my rolled dough kept either sticking or cracking/falling to pieces, I patted it into my greased bowl. Maybe that's why it ended up sticking mercilessly to the inside of the bowl. Maybe it's because I used shortening instead of suet. Maybe it's better that it stuck and I opted not to eat it, since I really don't need that extra fat in my diet.
I did not want to put this in my mouth. But I did.
The good news: the meat was wonderfully tender, so bonus there! Maybe I should start steaming my roasts.
I made the sweet pudding recipe, using butter instead of suet, and adding Heath toffee chips and topped with some fig jam, and by topped, I meant it was at the bottom of my bowl. Unlike the meat and onion pudding, it looked frightening at the beginning, and better at the end.
Not bad. There are better ways to make a cake, but this was an interesting experiment. Maybe if I ever find some suet, I'll try this again.
My notes are scattered throughout the post. I will say that I've never liked shortening in pastry crust, and it was an utter failure here--it would not roll out. Perhaps a rest would've helped, or using less shortening and adding water, as in a traditional crust recipe. Whatever the case, a pat-in-the-pan crust didn't work for me at all, as that's what the recipe turned into when it refused to stay together as a roll-out dough. The crust stuck in the greased bowl, and I couldn't roll out a piece for the top.
Want to see some other puddings--many of which are much cuter than mine? Click here!