This is the sort of steamy pudding suited to grey, dark, winter evenings, when the sun sets early and the frosts settle in. I thought I would share this recipe from my cookbook “A Handful of Flour” as it’s a great alternative December dessert for those who don’t like the traditional Christmas pudding.
The popcorn brittle is optional but it enhances the corn notes of the pale golden Khorasan flour. The brittle is actually also great by itself for a movie night, as a standalone recipe.
You can find our stone ground Khorasan flour here. It is produced from an ancient variety of durum wheat named after what was formerly known as the Khorasan province of Northern Iran. The flavour of this flour is almost buttery, with a maize-like aftertaste.
Recipe extracted from “A Handful of Flour – Recipes from Shipton Mill”. Photograph copyright Jonathan Gregson Photography.
Start by making your caramel sauce for the pudding. Melt the sugar, salt and butter over a medium heat in a small, heavy-based pan to form a smooth paste. Add the milk, and turn up to a medium-high heat so that it starts to bubble. Wait until you have a thick caramel sauce – it should take around 3-5 minutes.
Grease a 1-litre pudding basin with butter. Pour around two thirds of your caramel sauce into the bottom of the basin, and place it in the fridge to set for at least 30 minutes. Keep the rest in the pan to be reheated for serving.
Move on to the pudding. Beat your butter and sugar together using an electric hand whisk or stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs gradually, beating after each addition to avoid curdling. Add the flour, salt and baking powder, and keep beating until evenly combined. There is no need to sift the flour, because we stone-grind our Khorasan and you don’t want to sift out the flakes which contain the flavour. The mixture should be of dropping consistency. Add a dash of milk if you need to loosen it slightly.
Pour your mixture into the pudding basin. If it doesn’t already come with a lid, you can make one using a sheet of foil and a sheet of greaseproof paper. Place the foil on the top of the greaseproof paper and fold a 2.5cm pleat down the centre. Cover the top of the basin with the foil on the outside, and the pleat running down the middle of the bowl. Tie tightly with string under the rim of the basin. Trim off the excess to leave you with roughly 5cm of foil under the string. Tuck the remaining foil up and around the greaseproof paper to seal the pudding off from the water. Create a string handle so that you can lift your pudding in and out of the steamer or pan. If you don’t have a steamer, you can make your own by placing a heatproof metal trivet in the base of a large pan, and filling it roughly a quarter full with water. Balance the pudding bowl on the trivet just out of the water, and put the pan lid on top, or cover it with foil. Steam your pudding for 1½ – 2 hours over a low heat. Remember to keep topping the water level up so that it doesn’t boil dry. You will need to check on it regularly for this reason.
While your pudding is steaming, make your popcorn brittle. Melt the knob of butter in a large pan. Add the popcorn kernels and salt, and cover with a pan lid. Once the kernels start to pop, turn the heat right down to very low and give the pan an occasional shake, until most of the corn has popped. Remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, in a heavy-based pan, melt the 50 grams of butter, the sugar and the water over a medium-high heat. Stir it very occasionally to prevent it burning on the bottom. After about 5 minutes or so, it will be bubbling and thick. Test a small spot on a sheet of greaseproof paper – if it hardens as it cools, it is ready. Pour it out on to the sheet of greaseproof paper. Sprinkle the popcorn over it immediately so that it sticks, and leave it to cool. Once it is hard and brittle, break it up into shards, to serve with the pudding.
To check whether your pudding is done insert a metal skewer into it – if it comes out clean, the pudding is ready. Wear oven gloves to protect your hands against the hot pudding basin when handling it. Remove the lid, and place a heatproof plate over the top of the basin. Flip it over, and lift off the basin. Heat up your remaining caramel sauce in a small pan, and pour it over the top. Sprinkle each portion with popcorn brittle and serve with pouring cream or ice cream. This pudding is best enjoyed on the day of making, although any leftovers are fine the day after as well.