I have a wonderful sister. Anyone who takes the time to pick and pack fruit then mail it to the other end of the country is, in my book, admirable.
I adore getting these fragrant packages crammed with huge lemons, picked on the day of dispatch. I find it hard to imagine lemon and mandarin trees groaning with fruit; there's something quite magical about it.
Today's recipe is virtually novice- proof. If you have never made a steamed pudding before, this economical version is a good starting point. I use a thick pottery bowl with a good lip, which is handy when it comes to tying the paper and foil in place. You can also buy metal steaming bowls with clip-on lids; it's a good idea to put a layer of greased paper or baking paper over the pudding to stop it sticking to the lid.
Before you start, make sure your bowl fits comfortably into the boiling pan. As the pudding cooks, keep the water level about halfway up the side of the bowl.
Old recipe books proliferate with steamed pudding recipes, with good reason. Before the electric stove became standard in virtually every home, the top of the coal range was the perfect place to cook the pudding while the meat roasted merrily in the oven.
The batter for this pudding can be varied according to whatever fruit you put in the bottom of the bowl. Cinnamon goes well with apple slices, for example, while pears marry well with ginger.
SPICY MANDARIN PUDDING (serves 4)
butter for greasing bowl
4 Tbsp golden syrup
60g melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground ginger
about 3 Tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
Thoroughly grease a 1-litre capacity bowl.
Peel and slice mandarins, removing any pith.
Put 3 Tbsp syrup in bottom of bowl, swilling it around until it coats evenly. Arrange mandarin slices over the syrup and a few around the sides. Set aside.
To make batter, put melted butter, 1 Tbsp syrup and sugar in a small bowl. Beat well then add egg, beating until creamy.
Sift flour, baking soda and spices together.
Add half to the creamed mixture and combine. Add a little milk and remainder of dry ingredients and stir until combined.
Add more milk if necessary so mixture is of dropping consistency.
Spoon mixture carefully over the fruit and syrup. Cover with a layer of greased baking paper.
Clip lid into place if using a steamer.
If using a pottery bowl, cover baking paper with two generous layers of foil and tie firmly into place under lip.
Lower bowl into boiling water and place lid on pan. The water should be halfway up the sides of the bowl. Cook gently for 90 minutes. Check water level periodically and top up if necessary with boiling water.
Using oven gloves, lift bowl from pan, and invert over flat serving plate.
Serve hot with custard and cream.
- © Fairfax NZ News