Baking challenge: little marmalade and sticky toffee fig steamed puddings

This post is part of my challenge to bake my way through all the challenges of the Great British Bake Off. The challenge below is the signature challenge for week six (pudding week) of series three: two different sponge puddings, each served with a different sauce, six of each.

Mini marmalade steamed puddings
Mini marmalade steamed pudding

Running through almost every Belgian I’ve ever known, like a seam of quartz through rock, is an inexplicable Anglophilia – inexplicable because it seems to pulse through Belgians who’ve never visited Britain and have no immediate familial or cultural links to the country. Is it because of Britain’s eventual support for our little country following the 1830 Belgian revolution, when a sentimental song at the opera spurred patriotic (anti-Dutch) riots? Because Britain housed 250,000 Belgian refugees fleeing the German invasion during the First World War? Because Belgians really, really enjoy EastEnders?

Whatever the cause, Belgian Anglophilia is matched by no little bemusement towards British habits. After all, Brits eat stew with mash, rather than the proper accompaniment of frites; they drink pint after pint of weak beer, rather than a modest glass of 8% ABV; and when they do eat chips, they fry them to a crisp toasty brown and sprinkle them with malt vinegar to add insult to injury. But most bemusing of all is…the pudding.

“In Britain,” my grandmother declared one day, “They call everything PUDDING.” As I digested this statement, she leaned forward and added, “Here, the only thing WE call pudding is…PUDDING.”

Figgy sticky toffee pudding
Figgy sticky toffee pudding

You see, like in North America, ‘pudding’ in Dutch (same word, though it sounds slightly different) typically refers to custard (or sometimes jelly)-based soft desserts (like Angel Delight or those Alpro Soya long-life custards), whereas in Britain, of course ‘pudding’ usually means simply a dessert course. This terminology is, for some reason, endlessly amusing. (Notwithstanding this general bemusement, one of the most masterly books on the market about British puddings was in fact written by a Belgian).

For my twelve steamed puddings, I chose to make a marmalade pudding – mostly, admittedly, for the very smug-sounding reason of having an excess of homemade marmalade on my shelves after preserving fever hit me. I adapted a recipe from Justin Gellatly for this, adding orange zest for additional freshness and zip, and baking them as mini puddings rather than one large one. It’s served with an alcohol-spiked custard for absolute indulgence. The other recipe is Gizzi Erskine’s, and is a deliciously fig-laden version of classic sticky toffee pudding, accompanied by a lusciously sticky sauce. (Yes, both are pretty wintery, but although it’s high summer for now, British summer evenings can still get pretty cold, you know…).

Recipes are below the jump, as always.

Marmalade steamed puddings with whisky custard
Adapted from Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding by Justin Gellatly

You will need six dariole moulds or ramekins for this recipe. Mine resemble these.

You will also need kitchen string (or heatproof elastic bands) and baking paper and foil, or baking paper-lined foil.

For the pudding

  • 160g unsalted butter, soft, plus extra for greasing
  • 100g caster sugar (I used golden)
  • 50g light brown soft sugar
  • finely grated zest of one orange
  • 2 eggs
  • 230g plain flour, plus a little extra for dusting
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 4 TBS whole milk
  • 8 TBS marmalade
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Butter the six moulds and lightly dust them with flour. Set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and sugars together with the orange zest until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Sift in the flour and baking powder and mix it in.
  3. Fold in the milk and two tablespoons of the marmalade.
  4. Place a scant tablespoon of marmalade in the bottom of each mould; spoon the sponge mixture on top. Cover each mould with a buttered round of baking paper, then cover with a piece of foil with a pleat in the middle (or a piece of pleated baking paper-lined foil, the baking paper side buttered and facing down) and secure by tying with string. This is a bit of a faff (especially for all six puddings) – you could also secure it with heatproof elastic bands (also known as cooking bands), but I used string.
  5. Place the puddings in a deep roasting tray. Boil a kettle full of water and carefully pour the boiling water in the tray to come halfway up the sides of the moulds. Cover the whole roasting tray with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes until the tops are springy and a skewer comes out clean when inserted (though remember there’s gooey marmalade at the bottom!).
  6. Remove the puddings from the roasting tin and let rest for ten minutes before unwrapping and unmoulding them onto a serving plate. You may need to run a palette knife around the edges of each pudding to loosen them.
  7. Serve warm – you can reheat them in a low oven or microwave if you have any left over.

For the whisky custard

  • 250ml whole milk
  • 125ml double cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 45ml whisky (this is three standard 15ml tablespoons)
  1. Combine the milk and double cream in a heavy-based saucepan and bring slowly to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla paste or extract.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl.
  3. Pour the boiling milk into the yolks, whisking constantly to prevent them from curdling. Return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook slowly over a low heat – I like to use a heat diffuser for this kind of thing – stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until thickened enough to lightly coat the back of the spoon.
  4. Pour the custard through a fine-mesh sieve. Stir in the whisky. Serve with the puddings.

Mini figgy sticky toffee puddings with sticky toffee sauce
From Gizzi’s Season’s Eatings by Gizzi Erskine (miniscule adaptations)

You will need six dariole moulds or ramekins for this recipe. Mine resemble these.

You will also need kitchen string (or heatproof elastic bands) and baking paper and foil, or baking paper-lined foil.

For the puddings

  • 85g unsalted butter, soft, plus extra to grease
  • 150g stoned dates, chopped (the original recipe calls for 150g dates, stoned – but it’s more difficult to find stone-in dates and the weight differential is very minor)
  • 150g dried figs, chopped (I also removed the tiny ends of hard dried stem)
  • 250ml strong black tea (made with one teabag)
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • finely grated zest of one orange
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Butter the moulds.
  2. Place the dates and figs together in a small pan and cover with the hot tea. Bring to the boil and cook for 3-4 minutes, until softened. Remove from the heat and stir in the bicarbonate of soda and watch it fizzle. Set aside.
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time, mixing well together after each addition. Fold in the flour, mixed spice, orange zest, and the date and fig mixture. set aside.
  4. Make the sauce (see below).
  5. Divide half the sauce and pour into the bottom of each dariole mould, keeping back the other half of the sauce to pour over the cooked puddings. Fill the moulds with the batter mixture, leaving 5mm from the top to allow the mixture to expand.
  6. Cover each mould with a buttered round of baking paper, then cover with a piece of foil with a pleat in the middle (or a piece of pleated baking paper-lined foil, the baking paper side buttered and facing down) and secure by tying with string. This is a bit of a faff (especially for all six puddings) – you could also secure it with heatproof elastic bands (also known as cooking bands), but I used string.
  7. Place the puddings in a deep roasting tray. Boil a kettle full of water and carefully pour the boiling water in the tray to come halfway up the sides of the moulds. Cover the whole roasting tray with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes until the tops are springy and a skewer comes out clean when inserted (though remember there’s gooey toffee sauce at the bottom!).
  8. Remove the puddings from the roasting tin, unwrap, tip onto a serving plate, and serve with the rest of the warm sauce and cream, ice cream or clotted cream, if you want to gild the lily.

For the sauce

  • 200g light muscovado sugar
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 300ml double cream
  • pinch flaky salt
  1. Place the sugar, butter, cream and salt into a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a low heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat slightly and let bubble away until thickened and a light toffee colour, 6-8 minutes. Don’t allow it to boil ferociously or it will split.
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