Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Steamed Mincemeat Roly Poly Pudding

I do love steamed puddings! To me, they represent so much about what food can be; warm, comforting, sustaining and delicious. There is no doubt about it though; they can be rich and heavy to eat, so you really do need to have a built up an appetite in order to fully appreciate them. Also, you don’t tend to eat pudding on its own – it is almost mandatory that they should come with a rich, sweet sauce, loads of custard or if you’re feeling a little restrained, just some softly whipped cream! This is not food for the faint-hearted (or for those counting calories).

Steamed puddings are definitely winter dishes - I’d be hard-pushed to think of one that you would eat at the height of summer - but like so many foods that are seasonal, I think you enjoy them all the more because of the fact that they are not available throughout the whole year.

Although most recipes for steamed puddings these days seem to be for sweet versions, historically, many were actually savoury puddings containing meat and vegetables. A traditional steak and kidney pudding, which is still very popular today, is exactly that – a pudding which is encased in a suet pastry and steamed for a number of hours, during which time the meat is tenderised and a delicious gravy is created.

The most popular steamed pudding must be Christmas pudding, but as I have noted in previous posts, it is not to everyone’s taste as it is laden with dried fruit and is incredibly rich. Personally, even though I absolutely love it (especially when served with brandy butter), it is a rather challenging dish to eat after a large meal and all the feasting on Christmas Day. I often serve a pavlova instead, which is much lighter on the stomach and still finishes off the meal on a sweet note without being so rich. I top the pavlova with clementines or pears poached in spicy mulled wine to follow through with the festive flavours.
 
There are a number of recipes for steamed puddings using mincemeat (the stuff you use in mince pies at Christmas) and they have always appealed to me because they are less- fruit laden than traditional Christmas puddings but still have all the tastes you associate with Christmas.
 
This recipe is based on one by the British food writer Simon Hopkinson, who has written a number of fabulous cookery books including one called Roast Chicken and Other Stories which he wrote with fellow food writer Lindsay Bareham and which is regularly cited on lists of the best cookery books. Simon calls this his Swirly Mincemeat Suet Roly-Poly Pudding. The pudding is made by making a suet pastry, rolling it out, spreading with mincemeat and then rolling up again like a traditional jam roly-poly pudding. However, the mincemeat roly-poly is then cut into slices and these are used to line a well-greased pudding basin before being covered and steamed. The slices of rolled pastry make a lovely pattern when turned out and given the fact that steamed puddings, by their very nature don’t tend to be the most elegant looking desserts, I was very pleased with the end result.
 
As already stated, this is my tweaked version of a recipe by Simon Hopkinson which I found in the on-line version of The Independent. The original recipe can be found here.

Ingredients:

25g butter, softened
50g light brown muscovado sugar
250g self-raising flour
125g suet (I used Atora)
60ml cold water
300g mincemeat
 

Method:

1. Grease a 1 litre pudding bowl with the butter making sure that the entire surface, particularly the base of the bowl is well buttered. Use a little extra butter, if necessary (you do not want your pudding to stick when you come to turn it out).
2. Sprinkle the buttered surface of the bowl with the sugar, making sure that it is well coated and set aside.
3. Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the sugar, mixing it through the flour so that it is well distributed. Make a well in the centre and add the water. Mix with a fork until, the mixture comes together into a soft dough – if you need to, add an extra tablespoon or so of cold water to achieve the correct consistency.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work-surface and roll into a large rectangle about 30cms x 20cms. Spoon the mincemeat onto the suet pastry and spread out to within 4cms of the edge using a palette knife. Roll up neatly, nut not too tightly along the long edge to create a long ‘roly-poly’.
5. Use a sharp knife to cut the roly-poly into equal sized slices about 1.5cms thick. Use to line the sugared bowl, pressing them well into the sides of the bowl.  Pack the remaining slices into the centre of the bowl.
6. Cover the bowl with a sheet of pleated non-stick baking parchment and then a sheet of pleated aluminium foil and secure both in place around the lip of the bowl with twine.
7. Steam for 2 hours, either in a proprietary steamer or in a large saucepan with simmering water, making sure to keep the water levels topped up so that they come half the way up the edge of the bowl.
8. After the steaming time has elapsed, remove the pudding from the steamer/saucepan and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Remove the aluminium foil and baking paper and upturn the pudding on to a serving plate. Serve whilst still hot with warm pouring custard.
 
Serves 6-8.