Monday, 16 April 2012

Steamed sponge pudding with my mum’s marmalade. And Custard!

I’ve finally got round to doing that sponge pudding with the marmalade I made in January. It turned out belter! Light, sticky, tangy and sweeeet.

I served it for a wine and food evening last week. The French guests apparently expressed concern that English patisserie wouldn’t be up to much. I won them over. It may not be common knowledge over here, but the British are very good at this kind of thing!

Steamed Marmalade sponge

8oz/225g butter, softened
6oz/175g sugar
2 lemon zest
1 orange zest
Seeds from a vanilla pod – if you have it. Don’t worry if not.
Fresh ginger, grated. The size of a fat man’s thumb. This is optional too (you can put in some all or none of the flavourings...)

4 eggs
8oz/225g Self-raising flour – or, if you live in france, 225g normal flour + ½ a packet of levure chimique (5g/1tsp baking powder)
A pincho salt
2 lemon juice

A big fat dollop of golden syrup
A big fat dollop of (ideally My Mum’s)Marmalade.

You will need a 2 pint pudding basin (or something which will approximate to one), and a pan or steamer with a lid, in which it will comfortably sit. And some foil (or baking parchment + muslin + string).

Before you forget, smear a bit of butter all over the inside of your pudding bowl, then tip in some flour and roll it around so as to entirely coat in a thin layer of white. Discard any excess. Spoon in a generous dollop of golden syrup and then the same of marmalade. Does it look like there will be plenty of syrupy lava splooging down the sides of the cake when it is cooked and unleashed? If not, add a bit more of both. Good work!

Now cream the butter, sugar and your chosen flavourings until white and fluffy. It’s important to get plenty of air in. And that your butter isn’t hard, or you’ll be there all day...

Mix in the eggs, one at a time.

Add sifted flour and salt. Mix gently until uniform.

Spoon on top of the syrup in your bowl. Try to ensure all the syrup is covered by the cake mix.

Butter the underside of a peice of foil and loosely cover the bowl. You can use a piece of greaseproof paper, buttered and with a pleat in, just hanging over the edge of the bowl. Next, a muslin covers that, also with a fold in it, which must be secured with string. This is the old fashioned way of doing things, but I’ve tried both, and the second method is just a lot more faff for no benefit at all...

Place in your steaming device for 1 ¼ - 1 ½ hours. Don’t let it boil dry! It’s cooked when it is springy to the touch, and a skewer inserted will come out clean.

Turn out while still hot and eat the glorious, steaming sponge, and it’s frankly dangerous molten lava topping, with a very generous puddle of custard. If you have the good fortune to be dining with abstemious types, eat theirs too!  

Proper Custard

This is a rich crème anglaise. If you’re feeling a bit more frugal, you could substitute the cream for more milk and perhaps change 4 of the egg yolks into a whole egg...

200ml/ pint Double cream (or milk, if frugal)
300ml/ ½ pint Milk (not skimmed! What’s the point in that?...)
A vanilla pod (use the one you scraped the seeds out of for the sponge – or a splash of vanilla extract)

5 egg yolks (or 1 if frugal)
1 whole egg (or 2 if frugal)
30g/1oz Sugar

Heat the milk and cream with the vanilla in a saucepan.

Rest a sieve on top of a bowl big enough to contain all the ingredients. Put it somewhere close to the stove. You will need it later.

When the milk is hot, reduce the heat and combine the sugar and eggs. Beat till light and a bit fluffy.

Pour half the hot liquid into the egg. Mix thoroughly. Don’t mess about – the eggs will cook in the milk so you need to be quick to avoid scrambling.

Pour your eggy mix into the remaining milk in the pan. Over a lowish heat whisk the custard diligently  till it starts to thicken. Make sure you scrape the whisk over every part of the pan bottom, especially the corners. You will start to see traces from the whisk in the thickening custard. Still whisking, remove from the heat and immediately pour through the sieve into your waiting cool bowl.

If, in spite of your best efforts, the custard has still split, fret not. Give it a good old blitz with a hand blender (the saviour of many a batch of crème brulée ) and it will come back, albeit a little less thick.

Serve hot and fresh-made or cold. Don’t try to reheat it, it will almost certainly split.

Sponge pudding and custard. If you don’t like this I pity you...