There’s a slight chill in the air. The leaves are turning.
Autumn makes me think about weekend family lunches, especially the classic roast. Plenty of crunchy roast potatoes with fluffy centres and the occasional Yorkshire pudding if you are very, very lucky, followed by something stodgy with custard. Heaven.
Except for the unbelievably heavy bowling ball that appears in the pit of your stomach upon finishing your banquet. All you want to do is have a lay down, but the kids need entertaining and the sun is out. How about a nice walk in the woods? Bleuhhh.
I’ve got a beautiful pudding that will banish that energy crash and put some pizzazz back in your day without leaving you feeling short-changed. My Steamed Ginger Sponge with Bay Infused Chocolate Custard is completely delicious but won’t strip you of your will to get off the sofa. The last joyful lick of the scrumptious tasting spoon will leave you feeling effervescent.
There’s no energy-stripping nutritionally empty white flour, in fact there’s no gluten either and only about a ¼ of the sugar you’d usually expect. Instead I use ground almonds and a just a little bit of sugar, blended with the natural sweetener Stevia. This is brilliant stuff and you can buy it, ready blended, in your supermarket and use it in place of sugar in most recipes. Look for the blended sugar and Stevia brands like Truvia’s ‘Baking Blend’ or Tate and Lyle’s ‘Light at Heart’.
I also use some other sweet tastes, a few dates, packed full of vitamins adding a complex treacly sweet flavour and a little coconut palm sugar which has a lower GI than normal table sugar and a deep caramel flavour that works really well with the ginger.
In terms of cooking, there are a couple of ways to approach this. The first is to worthily steam your pud for a couple of hours. It will make a fluffier and altogether lighter sponge, you can even steam it ahead of time and give it a quick 20 minutes just before serving. But if you don’t have the time, the inclination or frankly the hob space, you can cover your heat-proof pudding basin and stick it in the microwave for a few minutes; it will still be divine.
The chocolate and bay custard is a wonderful accompaniment. Rich, shiny and silky chocolate, with a hint of heady bay that warms your heart and pairs beautifully with the ginger in the sponge.
You could also steam this in individual pudding bowls, set your oven to 160C, place 6 filled pudding bowls (metal or pyrex) with a circle of parchment on the top of each, in a baking tray with high sides. Fill the tray half way up with water to create a bain marie and cover the whole tray with foil, sealing the sides as much as possible. Bake/steam in your oven for 45 minutes.
You will need:
A 900ml pudding basin and some cook’s string and baking paper and foil to make a lid if it doesn’t have its own…
or 6 individual pudding molds, a large roasting tin, parchment and foil.
For the Sponge
150g Softened unsalted Butter
60g Stevia Baking Blend (Sugar and Stevia mix see above)
30g Coconut Palm Sugar
3 Medium Eggs
100g Ground Almonds
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tablespoon Finely Grated Fresh Stem Ginger
1 tablespoon Ground Ginger
10 Finely Chopped Dates
Chocolate and Bay Custard
4 egg yolks
200ml Double Cream
200ml Milk (Full Fat)
100g good quality 70% or above chocolate
20g Stevia Blend
20g Coconut Palm Sugar
3 Fresh Bay leaves
- First prepare your 900ml heat-proof pudding bowl. Grease with butter and set to one side.
- Place the softened butter, Stevia Blend and coconut palm sugar into a large bowl and cream together until light and fluffy.
- Add one egg and continue to beat until pale.
- Add the other two eggs, ground almonds, ground ginger, fresh ginger and chopped dates and beat until all incorporated.
- Scoop the mixture into the prepared pudding basin.
- Create a lid for the basin with a layer of bakingparchment and a layer of foil, tie with string to hold in place. Both the parchment and foil must have a pleat to allow for the pudding to rise.
- Seat the covered pudding into a large saucepan* with a lid and fill up with water so that it reaches at least half way up the pudding basin.
- Pop the lid on and steam for 2 hours. Top up regularly to ensure it doesn’t boil dry. Meanwhile, make the Chocolate and Bay Custard.
- Place the egg yolks and sugars in a heat proof bowl
- Heat the milk and cream to just boiling and then quickly but carefully pour the milk and cream onto the eggs and sugar whilst furiously whisking. Continue whisking until well incorporated.
- Then transfer back into the saucepan with the addition of the bay leaves and heat gently while whisking continually, until it thickens. It should coat the back of your spoon.
- Allow to cool a little and then add the chopped dark chocolate and swirl in the pan until melted and combined.
- Pass through a sieve to remove the bay leaves and any cooked egg, serve warm with the steamed pudding and watch as your guests drool.
- Uncover your pudding once steamed, place a plate on top and carefully flip so that your lovingly made pudding lightly flops pleasingly onto the plate.
- Serve drizzled with the Chocolate and Bay Custard. Once devoured, skip out into the autumn sunshine feeling warm and full of vim and vigour!
*If you decide that steaming is a step too far, at step 7. cover your basin with cling film and place in the microwave on full power for between 4 and 7 minutes, depending upon the strength of your microwave.