Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Daring Bakers Challenge: Traditional English Pudding

English Sticky Toffee Pudding

April’s Daring Baker’s challenge did not strike me as something I would eat, much less prepare. Pudding? My immediate response was thoughts of being unable to swallow pudding as a kid. I imagined gluey pudding. Ugh. I have texture issues with slimy substances. Errantly, I concluded traditional pudding to be similar to the American JELLO instant pudding. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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.

After being quite convinced I’d never like or make pudding, I decided to at least look at some recipes to see if there was something I’d be willing to try. What’s more? Could I find something even my family would eat if I made it as an Easter dessert? After bouncing between rhubarb pudding (since I received rhubarb from my co-op) or something sweeter like toffee pudding (my Uncle Ricky LOVES toffee and Heath bars). Contemplating my family and what I thought they’d try and enjoy, I went with Toffee Pudding. It called for butter rather than suet. Suet was not a required ingredient and was likely to be met with appall from my family. Additionally, there was concern about availability in my small hometown. I figured if I'd checked with our local butcher ahead there was a chance but I wanted to make it for Easter and the notice went out only a couple days before that. Since it was optional, I decided maybe I'd try suet it another time. I wasn't sure I'd like the pudding in the first place so at least that eliminated one variable. With the help of a recipe from the Food Network, I was off!

Step 1: Find the ingredients. Most of these were pretty common. I was concerned about finding dates in my hometown. Food City had it covered! I didn’t find them myself, though. Fortunately, the young guy stocking the shelves didn’t take it the wrong way when I asked him if he knew where I could find dates! Instead, he smiled, reached forward to the shelf in front of him and said, “Here are the dates, ma’am.” Ma’am?!? Oh well. I really didn’t know I was quite ma’amable. However, considering I was in my small hometown and I was older than his apparent high school age, the ma’am was a conventional respectful reply. I could handle that. My sister, Tiffany, laughed out loud at me.

Step 2: This dish was prepared the same day as the mildly catastrophic recipe of caramel sticky buns. After that experience, I determined not to prepared both the toffee sauce and cake at once, thank you very much. I started with the pudding. I chopped the dried dates finely and placed them in boiling water. Then mixed up the dry ingredients and combined the moistened dates and their water with the dry ingredients. At this point, I panic. Water? Most cakes I’ve made call for milk. What on earth would this be like? The recipe had a good rating so I decided to go with it. I stirred the mixture together. It looked runnier than pancake mix! I poured it in the oven/heat safe bowl and hoped it came out correctly, which as I understood would be a spongy cake.

Step 3: While the pudding cooked, I put together the toffee sauce.

Toffee Sauce

Step 4: The cake came out, right on time. The toffee sauce finished a couple minutes later and I went ahead and dumped half the sauce on top to soak into the pudding. I stored the rest of the toffee in a container for topping off the pudding.

Waiting while the caramel soaked into the Pudding

Step 5: Whipped cream. Easy breezy. No problem.

Step 6: Taste and see. Others were done with their Easter dinner well before me but the disappearance rate of the pudding suggested it was a hit. My mom scooped a portion for me before it was gone. There were no leftovers and a lot of fans! Yay for British pudding! Maybe I’ll try making the rhubarb version next!

Scooping the Pudding after the toffee sauce soaked into it

English Sticky Toffee Pudding with Whipped Cream and a Drizzle of Toffee Sauce!

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