Tripping down memory lane
In the days when kitchens and entire homes were heated by wood- or anthracite-burning stoves, steamed puddings, which are made from basic ingredients, were often prepared in one of the ever-present saucepans of water simmering on the stovetop. In today’s fast-paced world, steamed puddings are less common. However, this dessert may well transport you back to cozy family gatherings with grandparents in South Africa.
The steamer present in many a South African household was an aluminum container with a lid that clamped down and firmly sealed the contents. I haven’t found anything like this in the US; please let me know if you have! I’ve always used a bowl, sealed well with heavy duty foil, and this works just fine. The bowl is placed on a rack or thick wad of kitchen toweling in a large saucepan of boiling water. This setup ensures that the bowl isn’t in direct contact with the base of the saucepan.
This recipe was passed on to me by a dear friend who grew up on a farm in Graaff- Reinet. It’s a delicious, rich cake-like pudding smothered in a sticky layer of caramelized golden syrup.
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons butter, roughly diced
- 2 eggs
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 1½ cups golden syrup
- Before starting with the pudding, set a large saucepan of water on the stove and leave to heat to boiling point. If using a rack, position it in the saucepan.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into a mixing bowl.
- Rub the butter into the mixture with light fingers—“hy moet wind kry” (the mixture must be well aerated)!
- Whisk the eggs and fold in lightly with the buttermilk to form a soft dough. Do not over-mix.
- Pour and scrape the golden syrup into a 3-3½-pint heat-proof bowl and tilt the bowl to line the sides, as well as the base, with a layer of syrup.
- Pour and scrape the dough into the syrup-lined bowl and cover with a layer of heavy duty aluminum foil, shiny side down, large enough to cover and seal the top of the bowl. The foil must fit snugly round the rim to prevent water (steam) from reaching the pudding. It can be secured with string tied in such a way as to create a handle for lowering the bowl into the boiling water. (I did not use string.)
- Carefully add a wad of kitchen toweling (if a rack is not used) to the saucepan of boiling water and position the bowl on top of the barrier so that the bowl is not in direct contact with the base of the saucepan. The water level must be about halfway up the side of the bowl.
- Cover the saucepan with a lid, and continue to simmer the pudding for about 1 hour 45 minutes, until done (test with a skewer). If the water level drops, replenish with boiling water, as the water must not go off the boil.
- When done, carefully remove the bowl from the saucepan, run a knife around the edge of the bowl and tip the pudding out onto a suitable platter with a rim (to contain the syrup).
- Serve hot with custard or cream.