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Archive for December 26th, 2009

The Feast Day for St Stephen falls on 26 December (also usually called Boxing Day unless it is a Sunday), hence words in the Christmas Carol Good King Wenceslas:

“Good King Wenceslas looked out
on the feast of Stephen, …”

However, I have no idea why this is called St Stephen’s Pudding.  There is no reason given with the original recipe, where it is suggested as an alternative to the usual heavy fruit filled Pudding traditionally served on Christmas Day, but it somehow seems fitting to serve it on 26th December.  We love traditional Christmas pudding, however this I find makes a similarly comforting, but lighter, lemony-apple & raisin flavoured dessert for Boxing Day, when the first course is usually cold meats and vegetables served with chutney and pickle. It is a good way to use up any suet you have left from making your rich fruit Christmas pudding. For a more lemony pudding than the original I add not only the zest of the lemon, but the juice as well, putting in less milk.  I felt that the pudding needed a slightly longer cooking by an extra 30minutes, or so.  The addition of ½-1tsp cinnamon or ginger and some small pieces of crystallised ginger would add a lovely extra dimension.

The original recipe for St Stephen’s Pudding comes from Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course and she says it was passed on to her by an East Anglian television viewer. In River Cottage Food Heroes, a programme broadcast a few days before Christmas, there was a recipe for Thimble Mill Pudding, which is somewhat similar.  (For Thimble Mill pudding the pudding basin was liberally smeared with butter and coated with demerara sugar before the pudding mixture was added, something that would also work well with St Stephen’s pudding.)

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

St Stephen’s Pudding
(Serves 4-6)

4oz (110g) white breadcrumbs
2oz (50g) self-raising flour, sifted
2oz (50g) light brown soft sugar
3oz (75g) shredded suet
a pinch of salt
4oz (110g) seedless raisins
2 medium Bramley cooking apples, peeled and grated
1 lemon – Grated zest & juice
1 large egg
1 tbsp milk, aprox – (total amount of lemon juice & milk should be 3tbsp)
Optional extras:
½-1tsp cinnamon or ginger
  and/or
4-6 pieces of crystallised ginger, chopped (as well as or in place of the raisins)

1.  Lightly grease a 3 pint/2 litre pudding basin.  If you wish, you could use butter and add a coating of demerara sugar as for Thimble Mill Pudding.  The demarara sugar could be mixed with ground cinnamon or ginger for this coating rather than mixed into the pudding.

2.  Combine all the breadcrumbs, flour, sugar, suet and salt (plus spices if using) in a large mixing bowl.  Add the raisins, grated apple and grated lemon zest and stir well. (Plus the chopped ginger if using.)  Add the lemon juice and stir well.

3.  Mix the egg and milk together and stir into the mixture.  Stir well to thoroughly combine the ingredients.

4.  Spoon the mixture into the pudding basin, pushing it down well with a spoon.  Cover the basin tightly with its lid.  For a lidless basin cover with a sheet of baking parchment with a pleat in the centre to allow for expansion and then with a sheet of foil.  Secure with string.

5.  Boil a kettle, pour the boiling water into a saucepan to about halfway.  Bring to the boil, fit a steamer on top and then reduce to a medium heat.  The pudding can also be cooked in a panful of simmering water. Steam the pudding for 2½ hours, checking reguarly to keep the water level topped up. If you have an electric stacking steamer then this can be used very successfully, also regularly checking the water level.  (You can also use a slow cooker or pressure cooker – consult the instruction booklet for timings.)

6.  Serve with custard, cream or alternatively with brandy or rum butter.  I have also served this with Dulce de Leche/Confiture du lait/Toffee Sauce and crème fraîche.

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