This steamed pudding is the ultimate comfort food

Lilly Higgins recipe: A festive pudding with an exotic twist

This is the perfect way to use up leftover mincemeat, wether you make your own or use a jar of quality shop bought

This is the perfect way to use up leftover mincemeat, wether you make your own or use a jar of quality shop bought

 

Steamed puddings, an old school dessert that is the ultimate comfort food. They have a fantastic soft sponge texture and make a really lovely centrepiece. This pudding is a great alternative to the usual plum pudding served this time of year, it’s much lighter too with only a fraction of the usual dried fruits.

Steaming the sponge prevents it from drying out and there’s no need to turn on the oven. It’s a great way to get moist light desserts and a lovely ‘all in one bowl’ recipe once you add a jam or sauce at the bottoms of the pudding bowl. You can also make these in individual pudding bowls and steam for 30 minutes.

This is the perfect way to use up leftover mincemeat, wether you make your own or use a jar of quality shop bought. I usually buy a few jars of good quality mince meat then add a little more brandy and some extra dried fruit, along with some fine orange zest to really pack it full of fresh luxurious flavours.

If you’re not a fan then blueberry, blackberry or raspberry jam are delicious substitutes for the mincemeat. A steamed pudding is usually a great way to use up all of those jam jars half full at the back of the fridge. 

Saffron gives this light steamed pudding a golden glow and a delicate floral honey flavour. Always soak the saffron threads in a little warm water before using to soften them and bring out that intense colour and flavour. Or omit the saffron and fold a mashed banana into the batter, serve with a caramel or toffee sauce instead of the mincemeat.

I love edible gifts this time of year and sweet flavoured butter is a real favourite. A little jar of this along with a homemade pudding makes an excellent gift. I like to make mine with brandy or rum, real Irish butter, and a mixture of icing and soft brown sugar. I sometimes add the finely grated zest of an orange or lemon and I always add a tablespoon or so of fine ground almonds. It’s especially good with spiced rum butter. A generous dollop of rum butter can transform even the saddest looking mince pie into something celebratory. 

Festive steamed pudding with saffron and orange 
Serves 4-6

250g mincemeat (homemade or a jar of good quality)
1 pinch saffron threads
150g butter
130g soft brown sugar|
3 eggs
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
150g self raising flour

Grease a 1.5 litre pudding bowl with butter. Spoon the mincemeat into the base of the bowl. Set aside. 

Place the saffron threads in a little tea cup along with 2 tbsp hot water. Leave to soak. 

Beat the butter with the sugar until paler and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition. Gently fold in the flour, orange zest and add the saffron water as you go. Pour the batter into the pudding bowl, covering the mincemeat base. Smooth the top of the sponge with a spoon. Cover with a pleated piece of greaseproof paper, a pleated piece of tinfoil and tie tightly with twine. Place in a saucepan half filled with boiling water, cover with a lid and simmer for 1½ hours over a low heat. Top up the water as necessary. 

Once cooked remove the pudding bowl from the pot. Be careful as the lid is usually puffed up with hot steam. Remove the paper and foil and turn the pudding out onto a serving plate. Serve hot with gently whipped cream, brandy butter or custard.

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