Traditional English Pudding

28 Apr

Beef & Guinness Pudding

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.

I found this challenge slightly disconcerting as we had to make the pastry using suet. Suet. It is the hard but flaky fat found on the inside of a cow or sheep around the kidneys and that area of the body. Yuck. However, I had to try to ignore this and get on with the challenge. I chose to make a suet crust pudding with a filling which would be steamed in a pudding basin.  I filled it with a beef and Guinness (which I browned first and simmered gently for a few minutes before adding it to the pudding).

Triple wrapped pudding

I wrapped mine, first in parchment (with a fold to allow room for the steam) and followed by two layers of tin foil – the mother’s recommendation.

I cooked this for about three hours; the filling turned out beautifully and the crust, the crust (quite surprisingly) had a wonderful golden hue. I assumed it would be rather bland looking from being steamed. I must admit, I was afraid to taste the crust! I know, I’m sorry but, well, suet! I got over it and sampled the delicacy and, I liked it, though I probably won’t be making it again.

Pudding Crust for both Savoury Pudding or Sweet Pudding (using suet or a suet substitute):


(250 grams/12 ounces) Self-raising flour (Note* If you cannot find self-raising flour, use a combination of all-purpose flour and baking powder.)
(175 grams/6 ounces) Shredded suet or suet substitute (i.e., Vegetable Suet, Crisco, Lard)
(a pinch) Salt and pepper (Note* If making a savory dish, can be replaced with spices for sweet if wished.)
(210 millilitres/a little less than a cup) Water (Note* You can use a milk or a water and milk mix for a richer pastry.)

1. Mix the flour and suet together.
2. Season the flour and suet mixture with salt and pepper if savory and just a bit of salt and/or spices if sweet.
3. Add the water, a tablespoonful at a time, as you mix the ingredients together. Make up the pastry to firm an elastic dough that leaves the bowl clean. The liquid amounts are only an estimate and most recipes just say water to mix.

4. Don’t over handle the pastry or it will be too hard.
5. Reserve a quarter for the lid and roll out the rest and line a well-greased bowl.
6. At this point add your filling.. a couple of options are give below but have fun and go wild!
7. Roll the final piece of pastry out into a circle big enough to cover the top of the basin, dampen the edges and put in position on the pudding, pinching the edges together to seal.
8. Seal well and cover with a double sheet of foil – pleated in the centre to allow room for expansion while cooking. Secure with string, and place it in a steamer over boiling water.
9. Steam for up to 5 hours, you may need to add more boiling water halfway through or possibly more often. There is a lot of leeway in this steaming time and different recipes give different steaming times. Delia Smith says 5 hours for Steak and kidney where as Mrs Beeton says 2.5 for a similar dish! One way to tell that it is cooked is when the pastry changes colour and goes from white to a sort of light golden brown. It is also hard to over steam a pudding so you can leave it bubbling away until you are ready.


3 Responses to “Traditional English Pudding”

  1. Audax Artifex April 29, 2010 at 5:29 am #

    That photo is superb and great work on this challenge. The colour of the pastry is exquisite lovely.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  2. Kim April 29, 2010 at 2:52 pm #

    That looks great! The crust looks nice and browned. Hopefully it was tasty. I also made a steak and mushroom with guiness and we enjoyed it. Nice job on the challenge!

  3. Angelica April 30, 2010 at 10:17 pm #

    Love the gold crust! I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that steaming could brown up dough 😀 Great job on the challenge!

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