My book club is currently reading Anne Bronte’s Agnes Grey. It’s the second Bronte we’re tackling and a very different experience indeed to the emotional maelstrom that Wuthering Heights was.
Like Wuthering Heights, we’re working through this one in sections of 5 or so chapters every couple of weeks. And, like Wuthering Heights, I’ll be posting recipes inspired by the book.
Agnes Grey is a governess so associating “nursery-style” comfort food with this novel was a no-brainer. This style of pudding sounds stodgy, but it’s actually quite light tasting. It is, though, perfect for dark, cold nights such as you’d get in England during autumn, winter and early spring.
Although not terribly photogenic, there’s something terribly nostalgic about a steamed pudding – even though the only steamed pudding we ever had growing up was a Christmas pudding. As an aside, my mother makes a really lovely steamed Christmas pudding.
So, even though I’ve come from an Australian family that never really had a steamed pudding tradition, steamed puddings still feel homely, comforting, and like family.
I’m almost ashamed to say that I hadn’t thought much about steamed puddings until we were at a friend’s house earlier in the year and were served an amazing sticky date syrupy pudding for dessert. In the middle of a Queensland summer. Granted, the friend in question is English, but man, that pudding was good. It was even good enough to tempt a non-dessert eater like me. That good.
Inspired I promptly took myself off to buy a pudding steamer (I have no idea if that’s the right technical term for them).
Armed with a shiny new pudding basin it was time for the pudding – even in the middle of a Queensland summer. In deference to the weather, I went for a lemon pudding. Now I’ve made one pudding I’m an absolute convert. I might even be tempted to do one with suet and steak and kidney during the winter…but before my husband gets too excited I’m not making any promises in that direction!
Anyways, the lemon pudding…without further ado here’s the recipe.
What you need…
a pudding basin and…
For the syrup:
- 6 tablespoons golden syrup
- juice of half a lemon
For the pudding:
- 175g butter, at room temperature
- 175g soft dark brown sugar
- 1 lemon – rind finely grated
- 4 eggs
- 175g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
What you do with it…
- Grease a 1.5-litre pudding basin with melted butter (mine is a 2-litre basin). If your basin is not a non-stick one, line the base with baking paper.
- For the syrup mix together the golden syrup and lemon juice and pour into the bottom of the pudding basin.
- Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Stir in the lemon zest and vanilla seeds.
- Add the egg one at a time and beating well in between. If the mix starts to split beat in a tablespoon or so of the flour.
- Using a metal spoon, fold in the flour and baking powder and stir to a smooth thick batter.
- Spoon the batter over the syrup – don’t worry if the lemony sugar mix creeps up the side.
- Cut some baking paper into a disc and place over the surface of the pudding and pop the lid on. If your basin doesn’t have a lid, cover with foil, and secure with string.
- Place the basin in a large saucepan – I used my soup pan – and add enough boiling water to come halfway up the side of the basin. Cover the pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 1.5 hours. You might need to top up the boiling water from time to time.
- Remove from heat and let it stand for 10 minutes or so before inverting onto a plate.
Serve with custard.