Monday, April 26, 2010

April DB Challenge Pudding using suet

This month's is to try a very British dish (pudding) and a very British ingredient (suet).

The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.

This was one of the most interesting challenges so far to do - a steamed pudding using suet. This challenge seems to intimate some of the members but it was so great to hear all the stories when they did successful versions of the recipe. Suet pudding can be made into two versions, a crust type (steak and kidney pie) and a sponge cake type (Traditional Christmas cake).

I made a lot of versions since I was very intrigued by the steaming process.

First Batch
I decided to do the suet sponge version of the challenge since I just adore traditional Christmas cake. I love it with lots of dried fruit, citrus peel, red glacé cherries and oozing with brandy and rum.

Since all the butchers are closed here (Good Friday) I used suet mix in a box.

Here is what the suet looks like – it is 44% suet and the rest is SR flour.

I used a one litre (Chinese dish) to be the pudding bowl notice how it doesn't need a rim (though it is better if it does have one). I used parchment paper and twine to seal the pudding during steaming.

None of my pots were big enough to hold my pudding so I used my large slow cooker with a steaming platform. Lid not shown.

The great thing about using the slow cooker is that the steam doesn't escape very easily so there is little loss of water throughout the hours of steaming.

You could use a large casserole dish in the oven to contain your pudding set at 120C (250F) fill about 1/3 to 1/2 way up the side of the pudding bowl. Remember to use a stand or a tea-towel on the bottom.

The slow cooker set on high produced a 'burp' of steam and gas very 30 secs so I could hear it working. It took 4 hours to do a one litre Christmas pudding you can tell it is ready by pressing lightly on the top of the pudding it should feel firm yet springy. It takes about 2 hours for it cooling down to a warm temperature suitable for serving. Run a rubber spatula around the edge and it comes out cleanly.

The recipe I used (see below) is super quick to put together (only 10 mins) and produces a lovely traditional pudding that tastes spot-on moist rich and oh so boozy. This certainly is the easiest and fastest recipe I have done so far for the Daring Kitchen (not including the steam time).


Suet Christmas Cake
125 grams of suet mix (½ box)
¼ cup plain flour
½ tsp salt
1 ¼ tsp mixed spice
¼ tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 cups mixed dried fruit
2 tablespoons dried peel
3 tablespoons almonds, chopped
¾ cup brown sugar
1 cup dried breadcrumbs
2 eggs, lighten beaten
4 tablespoons brandy or rum (or orange juice with rum flavouring)
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons boiling water (or use very hot rum or brandy)

1.Combine dry ingredients, except the bicarbonate of soda, in a large bowl. Add eggs, alcohol and bicarbonate of soda dissolved in boiling water. Mix well until combined.
2.Spoon into a lightly greased 1 litre pudding streamer. Cover securely with lightly greased, pleated greaseproof paper, aluminum foil and twine.
3.Immerse in pan of boiling water. Ensure water comes half way up the sides of the pudding bowl.
4.Steam 4 hours.

OBTW while I was waiting I made focaccia - one half rosemary and sea salt the other half olives, no use wasting time. The use of the slow cooker does free up your time totally.

Second Batch
I got hold of fresh suet from the butcher's for free and I decided to do a Steak 'n' kidney and oyster sauce suet pudding using the recipe below.

Well I was proved wrong! I always thought you needed to brown the meat first when you make stew, pies and etc. This recipe uses raw cubed chuck steak and kidney with a red wine and oyster sauce stock and when it is finished you add some extra meat trimmings/red wine/oyster sauce gravy.

It was absolutely and utterly the best steak 'n' kidney pudding I have ever had and my friends thought so to. I was totally gob smacked at the colour of the suet pastry of the steamed pudding it looked like I had baked it. The flavours of steak, kidney, oyster and red wine is truly delicious and so so rich in flavour and deliciousness I will be making this again if I need to impress any carnivores that come to dinner. This recipe is beyond belief, and they say the English can only make stodgy bland food this is flavour heaven personified I could of eaten all of it and damn the fat and the other tasters!


Steak 'n' kidney and oyster sauce suet pudding
Adapted from here

For the suet crust pastry
225g/8 oz self-raising flour
salt and freshly milled black pepper
115 g/4 oz shredded beef suet
cold water, to mix

For the filling
380g/13 ½ ozs chuck steak
115g/4oz ox kidney after trimming (so buy extra about 15%)
3 tablespoon of oyster sauce and enough red dry wine to make a little over ½ cup
4 teaspoon plain flour, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-2 fresh bay leafs

For the gravy
meat trimmings from the steak and kidney
1 onion, halved
570ml/1 pint red wine
1 tsp beef dripping
2 tbsp flour
1 tablespoon of oyster sauce

You will also need a well-buttered, 1 litre/1 US quart capacity pudding basin and a steamer.

For the pastry, first sift the flour and the salt into a large mixing bowl. Add some freshly ground black pepper, then add the suet and mix it into the flour using the blade of a knife. When it's evenly blended, add a few drops of cold water and start to mix with the knife, using curving movements and turning the mixture around. The aim is to bring it together as a dough, so keep adding drops of water until it begins to get really claggy and sticky. Now abandon the knife, go in with your hands and bring it all together until you have a nice smooth elastic dough, which leaves the bowl clean. It's worth noting that suet pastry always needs more water than other types, so if it is still a bit dry just go on adding a few drops at a time.

After that, take a quarter of the dough for the lid, then roll the rest out fairly thickly. What you need is a circle, about 21.5 cm/8½ in in diameter. Now line the bowl with the pastry, pressing it well all around. Next chop the steak and kidney into fairly small cubes (reserving the trimmings for the gravy), toss them in the seasoned flour, then add them to the pastry-lined basin with the slices of onion. Add enough oyster sauce/water to reach almost the top of the meat and sprinkle in a few drops of Worcestershire sauce and another seasoning of salt and pepper.

Roll out the pastry lid, dampen its edges and put it in position on the pudding. Seal well and cover with a double sheet of foil, pleated in the centre to allow room for expansion while cooking. Now secure it with string, making a little handle so that you can lift it out of the hot steamer. Then place it in a steamer over boiling water. Steam for five hours, topping up the boiling water halfway through.

For the gravy, simply place the meat trimmings in a saucepan with the half onion, cover with one pint of red wine and 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, simmer for approximately one hour. Then strain the stock, and in the same pan, fry the remaining onion, chopped small, in the beef dripping until soft and blackened at the edges. Then stir in the flour, gradually add the meat trimmings/red wine/oyster sauce stock little by little to make a smooth gravy, adding a spot of gravy browning if it's needed. Taste to check the seasoning.

When the pudding is ready place a small hole in the top of the pudding and pour in as much of the gravy as you can.

To serve, either serve the pudding by spooning portions straight out of the bowl, or slide a palette knife round the edge and turn the whole thing out on to a serving plate (which is more fun!).

The suet pastry

The steak 'n' kidney

The pudding bowl lined with the suet pastry

The steak 'n' kidney in the pudding bowl & topped up with oyster sauce and red wine

The pudding topped with a suet pastry lid

The meat trimmings/red wine/oyster sauce gravy (this is to die for it is so so good)

The steamed pudding (an amazing colour)

The gravy placed into the pudding

The inverted pudding (notice how flaky the crust is, it was bloody excellent, I never knew that steamed English suet crust could be so good, so light and tasty!)

A slice of steak 'n' kidney and oyster sauce pudding

Inverted and cut pudding

What the tasters thought of the pud - all the plate licked clean yum YUM YUMMINESS

Thank you for this challenge. As you can tell I was impressed with this recipe and the whole idea of suet!

About the steak 'n' kidney and oyster sauce suet pudding - I was totally astounded and stunned speechless for a min or two when I opened the pudding paper/foil/twine and saw a browned flaky pudding crust. I have made a lot of baked flaky butter pie crusts BUT this was easily the best and it was steamed in a slow cooker I can't figure out what I did right the pudding pastry preparation is so simple unlike the normal pie crust. I was expecting a white insipid slightly spongy but heavy crust but I got the complete opposite I will have to look up google images and see how it should look like and see if this is normal or not. And the meat was spot-on nice and soft with a bit of a bite to it so you can tell you were eating steak pieces and the kidney was extra tasty. A wonderful recipe I hope I reproduce it again with as much success. And thank you again Esther I never would have tried this without your intriguing challenge "Old fashioned English suet pudding". I usually don't rave about a baking process but this is one time I'm going to really explore it to its fullest. Expect a lot more puds.

Update - after looking at google images most of the pudding crusts seem to be very white and insipid but they are only done for 3 hours the better looking ones are steamed for 5 hours - so maybe that is the trick go the whole hog and do the full 5 hours and maybe using a slow cooker helped somehow. And most of the postings say you cannot invert the pudding I think adding the meat trimmings/red wine/oyster sauce gravy helped with that.

Third Batch
Pâté en graisse de rognon terrine – cold jellied meats enclosed in suet pastry this is a wonderful and tasty dish for picnics, casual parties and social gatherings and so easy to make.

I couldn't help myself I wanted to make a cold picnic suet terrine-like dish since I had a freezer spring-clean out and had a lot of left over meat off cuts and had to use them up. After some researching I decided on a cold pâté terrine enclosed in a English styled suet-rich pastry. The name of the dish comes from :-
1.the medieval usage of pâté and terrine; pâté was the filling for a pie, but the terrine was a pâté baked in a dish called a terrine, coming from the earth (la terre) and,
2.the modern French graisse de rognon meaning suet.

I got the idea of jellied meat pie while watching Pride and Prejudice with a girl friend and she mentioned that it was a very popular and posh looking dish for picnics. I have a thing for picnic recipes and have a large hoard of them that I do often and I couldn't resist.

About beef tendon it is wonderful it is mainly an Asian ingredient (called gan) it is marvellous it melts down after stewing into a wondrous collagen jelly that enriches any stew, braise or soup with a superior mouth-feel. I found out about it while doing the Daring Cooks' Phở challenge it was one of the ingredients in that famous Vietnam soup. It forms jelly like nuggets of richness in the soup very very nice and a great ingredient to use so cheap and easy to use just remember to chop it very finely so it will melt in the same time as the other meats.

See here for more information about it - I use it a lot now since I have a lot of Asian butcher's in my local area in Sydney Australia and it is so cheap they almost give it away.

Esther I have to especially thank you for introducing a new (but very old-fashioned baking/cooking technique) process to the Daring Bakers' I have never steamed anything except fish and veggies and it is an eye-opener to me (and I hope to the other DBers) how versatile and easy steaming/boiling suet pudding is and how tasty and homely the final dishes are, I never realised the comfort-food factor in these recipes and the ease and simplicity of the recipes. ((((Hugs)))) to you from me. I will be making some more.

This really is one of the simplest challenges so far (I think) so please try it don't be afraid the results are fabulous. And this challenge will really give you a whole new line of baking recipes for family, friends and guests that will illicit feelings of home and comfort.

Yes I know what you mean my butcher 'loves' me since I ask for the most unusual ingredients and I actually listen and use his advice he really looks forward to the 1st (DBers) and 17th (BCs) of the month to see what I want.

OBTW I should mention his only has one thumb and no fingers on his right hand (due to a butchering accident) and he is a most pleasant man with a wealth of information on all things to do with meat and cooking it and really seems to enjoy my asking him all sorts of strange questions/requests about meats.

Remember to seasoned strongly since it will be served cold. I was surprised how tasty this was it is delightful and oh so delicious. The jellied meats and the jelly stock combine to make a glorious looking terrine that will be sure to impress your guests. And don't worry the suet pastry tastes great cold and combined with the jellied meats has a pleasant smooth mouth-feel (i.e. there is no fatty layer sticking on the roof of your mouth).


This is a great dish to use up any stray pieces of raw meat (not fish) in the fridge.


Pâté en graisse de rognon terrine

Suet pastry
150 grams suet
225 grams self-raising flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons peppercorns, freshly milled

500 grams cubed raw left-over meat (beef, chicken, sausage, game, offal etc, no delicate flesh meat like fish, crocodile etc)
4 teaspoons plain flour, heavily seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup (approximately) of jelly stock, warmed and liquid (or 2 teaspoons gelatin dissolved in ½ cup hot water)
1-2 fresh bay leafs

1 cup (approximately) jelly stock, warmed and liquid (or 4 teaspoons gelatin dissolved in 1 cup of hot water)

1.Make the suet pastry – add cold water in small amounts until it comes together leaving the bowl clean. Reserve ¼ for the top. Roll out the remaining ¾ as the lining for the pudding bowl.
2.Lightly grease the pudding bowl. Line pudding bowl with the suet pastry. Fill with the flour-dredged raw cubed meat add bay leaf and add liquid jelly stock to just below the level of the top of the meats.
3.Place lid on top and seal well. Secure the bowl using parchment paper, aluminum foil and twine.
4.Steam for 5 hours. Checking on water level every hour or so.
5.Pierce a small hole in the top of the crust and pour as much of the warmed liquid jelly stock as possible into the terrine.
6.Leave overnight in the refrigerator.
7.Slice thinly when serving.

Jelly Stock
2 pigs feet, halved
1 pork shank
1 beef tendon, finely chopped
1 cup of soup stock veggies, chopped (carrot, celery, onion etc)
2 tablespoons of soup stock herbs and spices (garlic, whole peppercorns, allspice, bay leaves etc)
1 tablespoon vinegar
water as needed

Simmer slowly, skimming regularly, add water as needed, for 3 hours. Strain, will produce a very firm jelly when cooled. Makes about 5-6 cups of jelly stock.

Fourth Batch
Four puddings - three sweet and one savoury
These are a little over one cup in volume and took 3 hours to steam. The savoury was the best (but not by much!) so light it was the best scrambled eggs, sausage and tomatoes I have had. Use the sponge suet recipe and add a raw chopped sausage, one medium tomato chopped and use an egg as the liquid the tomato adds a lot of moisture even after 3 hours it was delightful.

Black Sultana - lovely with shiny black nuggets of yum

Candied peel - very zingy and tangy

Cherry coconut and chocolate - one huge cherry ripe almost to rich if that is possible

Spanish sausage with tomatoes - this was so nice light and tasty

Fifth Batch
Boiled Sticky Toffee Roly Poly (or in Australian Boiled Sticky Date Roly Poly)
I liked the idea of a sticky toffee pudding but since I hadn't done a boiled roly poly so far in this challenge I thought I would do it in that form. This was so delicious the 'jam' was rum soaked chopped dates, cocoa, brown sugar, butter and a hint of chilli. The pastry had 75 grams suet, 140 grams SR flour, 2 tablespoons of cocoa and 6 tablespoons of dark brown sugar and one tablespoon of dark honey. This was really delicious much better that the normal baked one using butter. I boiled it for 3.5 hours. Notice how light and fluffy the pastry is it is full of lots of little holes which is a characteristic of suet pastry. The roly poly floated about halfway up when it was boiling.




Sixth Batch
Boiled beurre noisette lemon and lime Sussex Pond

I had to make a Sussex Pond it sounded so good, I tweaked the recipe instead of using plain butter I made a lot of beurre noisette (burnt butter strained to remove the small burnt bits) and added a chopped lime, a chopped lemon and used black sugar. I boiled it for 5 hours then refrigerated it overnight then boiled it again for 2 hours.

This form of the Sussex Pond is utterly delectable it is a combination of tangy lime/lemon zing with a beautiful sweetness that is in perfect balance – it is a wonderful dessert. And after so much boiling the citrus had candied they were so soft and totally delicious. It is like a huge dumpling it is soft and so luscious. I think boiling really adds a wonderful extra dimension to the dish. So good it was 10 on the Richter Scale. Really one of the best desserts I have made and so simple to make.



Question - It looks wonderful... this boiling process 5h/fridge/2h... is there a special reason for that?

Uhmm ... I wanted the citrus to be really candied so you could eat it and I just wanted to see if you could overcook it really. It seems like is it almost impossible to overcook a suet pudding good to know. I also made the crust very thick about 40 mm (1.5") since in the Sussex Pond you really are eating the pastry and the sauce, normally you don't eat the "frog in the pond" (ie the lemon or lime) but after so much boiling the "frogs" were delightful. The whole dish was so tasty and tangy and the texture is light and oh so homely. Like a luxury golden syrup dumpling if you are an Australian (but much much better).

And be careful when cutting it open it really does gush out and it is very very hot and the smell is amazing.

Seventh batch
Suet Sponge Lamingtons
Lamingtons are cubed (day old) sponge cake coated in a layer of flavoured icing (traditionally chocolate) then desiccated coconut. Lamingtons are very popular in Australia so much so many charities have "lamington drives". I made a small plain suet sponge yesterday for testing purposes and thought I might use it to make lamingtons they are much lighter than normal but taste about the same.

Chocolate, raspberry and pineapple lamingtons


Eighth Batch
Thai squid and crab pudding

I had a lot of seafood in the freezer which needed to be used up (my annual freezer spring clean-out) so I thought about a suet pudding, this is a very interesting recipe it uses suet and fresh breadcrumbs instead of suet and flour. Also it uses a lot of Thai herbs and sauces. It sure smells good when it is steaming. And it is steamed only for 1½ hours so it is a very quick savoury pudding. I used squid rings and crab sticks as the seafood filling.

The finished pudding is so sophisticated looking and it has a slight wobble in it when you are carrying it to the table, the texture is like a firm pâté (with a slight wobble) that cuts very cleanly this was a great lunch. The squid and crab were soft and not overcooked the Thai flavourings were strong but didn't overpower the seafood. A most unusual pudding yet very elegant in presentation. It has such a lovely colour. I was very pleased with it.

Thai squid and crab pudding
serves 4
½ lb (250 g) squid rings, chopped
½ lb (250 g) white fish fillet (cod, haddock, hake, ling), skinned and finely chopped
OR ½ lb (250 g) crab sticks, chopped
fat for greasing
4 oz (100 g) shredded suet
3/4 cup (50 g) fresh white breadcrumbs (not the dry packet kind)
4 tbsp (60 ml) Thai herbs, chopped (coriander, lemon grass, lime leaves, chilli etc)
4 tbsp (60 ml) Thai sweet chilli sauce
1 tbsp Fish sauce
salt and pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup 125 ml (4 fl oz) milk

1. Grease a 2 pint (1 litre) pudding basin. Prepare a steamer or half fill a large saucepan with water and bring to the boil.
2. Combine the squid, fish, suet, breadcrumbs, herbs and sauces in a bowl. Mix well and season with salt, pepper.
3. Stir in the eggs and milk. Spoon the mixture into the prepared basin, cover with pleated greaseproof paper and foil and secure with string.
4. Put the pudding in the perforated part of the steamer, or stand it on an old saucer or plate in the saucepan of boiling water. The water should come halfway up the sides of the basin. Cover the pan tightly and steam the pudding over gently simmering water for 1 1/2 hours.
5. Leave for 5-10 minutes at room temperature to firm up, then turn out on to a warmed serving plate. Serve with extra Sweet Thai chilli sauce sauce, if liked.

Ninth batch
Baked wild goat and mint sausage suet tart
I found some wild goat and mint bangers in the bottom of freezer so I thought I would do baked suet tart, yes you can bake the pastry recipe. I par-boiled the bangers first and then chopped them roughly. I added some home-made (very mild) chilli gravy and then topped with some suet pastry and baked for 40 mins. It is a lightly browned pastry that has a very interesting (in a good way) texture a little like rice flour pastry it certainly isn't like normal pastry but you get used to it very quickly. It cuts cleanly and it seems to improve when cooled a little while. The wild goat and native mint was delicious and didn't have a gamey taste at all.

This challenge is about 1. steaming and 2. using suet so I thought baked suet pastry would still be within the guidelines.


The unbaked tart

The baked tart

I made some sausage rolls also these are very good the kids liked them a lot.

Tenth batch
Stained Glass Pudding
A pudding where you place dried fruit and cherries so they are like a stained glass window.


Eleventh batch
Moulded Very Complex Chocolate Suet Pudding
I wanted to make at least one pretty moulded pudding - I have a very complex bunt tulip baking pan (that is very heavy and thick) and I thought it would be perfect to make a pudding it is non-stick and consists of a series of tulip flowers around the top with a lot of sharp corners and leaf shapes on the sides, it is octagonal shaped on the base I thought the pudding would be pretty when turned out. Remember to seal the central hole also. I adapted the Very Chocolate Pudding that everybody seems to have fallen in love with in the forums, I used suet, black sugar, chilli powder, instant coffee and catsup manis (sweet soya sauce).

There is something about steamed cakes that is very homely and when you steam it you have a lot of latitude about the steaming time.

The complex tulip mould I used (very pretty!) a gift from my friends one Christmas a while a go.

The unmoulded pudding (it came out cleanly thanks goodness)

Cut slices of the moulded pudding

It certainly doesn't need sauce and the coffee/chilli/manis really adds a wonderful complexity to the flavour profile and adds a delightful zing to the base chocolate flavour. You cannot taste the coffee/chilli/manis as individual taste sensations they help to make the chocolate flavour stronger. And I could only have a small piece it is very very chocolaty almost too much if that is possible. The texture is so nice, moist, it has a slight wobble when you serve it and cuts very cleanly. This pudding serves 16 people!

Very Complex Chocolate Suet Pudding Recipe
120g Suet, grated finely
120g Black Sugar, powdered
120g Self-raising flour, sifted
60g Cocoa Powder, sifted
60g Dark chocolate, grated finely
1 tablespoon (high quality) instant coffee
1/2 tsp hot chilli powder
1 tablespoon catsup manis
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
1-4 tablespoons of sour cream
Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl mix together using a spatula, add the eggs and catsup manis and mix until it is thoroughly combined and has the consistency of a thick cake batter add sour cream until you get the right consistency, spoon into well-greased mould. Steam for 2 hours, store overnight in fridge, steam for 20 mins when you want to serve it, this helps to release it and the pudding will be warm.

Twelfth batch
Durian fruit, preserved mango and sugar banana pudding
I decided to do a topical flavoured pudding using durian fruit, preserved mangoes and sugar bananas. Durian fruit's taste can only be described as...indescribable, something you will either love or despise. For most people durian fruit has a unique flavour that can be best described as the most exquisite flavour that cannot be surpassed - a rich vanilla custard highly flavoured with almonds but there are occasional wafts of flavour that call to mind cream-cheese, onion-sauce, sherry-wine, and other incongruous dishes that meld into a sublime flavour feast for the palate. For the rest it's taste is best described as utterly disgusting something akin to raw-sewage laced with turpentine and onions, garnished with a sweaty gym sock that has been festered for a week ... it really really does have this drastic dipole reaction in tasters. Fresh durian fruit can be smelt from over half-mile away so please use the durian paste (called durian cake) and remember to seal it in aluminum foil well or you will have to replace the refrigerator's contents and maybe the refrigerator itself. So be careful make sure you are serving to people who like durian fruit because the rest will think you have poisoned them. I like it so the final pudding was excellent. I did a layer of preserved mangoes that adding a nice topping to the pudding. It was so moist (I used three sugar bananas) and fragrant it really smelt of durian!!!

Durian paste

Final Pudding

Notes, recipes and links:-

These are very homely dishes, some of you will know about the British and the word pudding but for those that don't the word is used for many things:

1) Black pudding and white pudding a sort of meat and grain sausage. Black pudding uses blood as well as meat.
2) Pudding — a generic word for desert
3) Pudding — any dish cooked in a pudding bowl or pudding cloth normally steamed, boiled but sometimes baked.
4) An endearment i.e., "How are you today my pudding?"

For this challenge we are using the third meaning a dish cooked in a pudding bowl or cloth, though many of you may opt to do a sweet version in which case version two also applies!

The special ingredient is suet. Please, please don't worry if you can't get it. There are suggested alternatives but if you want to stretch yourselves and try some very traditional British dishes do try and source some as it does make a difference to the texture and Daring Bakers is all about trying things you wouldn't normal do or use. Please remember there are alternatives so please don’t worry if you can’t get or don’t want to use suet !

So what is suet?

It is the hard but flaky fat found on the inside of a cow or sheep around the kidneys and that area of the body. Suet in its raw form crumbles easily into small chunks so much so that my butcher says it covers his floor in bits if he doesn't have it taken out as soon as possible. In fact unless he knows he has a customer for it he has the abattoir take it out and throw it away and when I want some he gives it to me for free! It also melts at quite a low temperature, which has an effect on how it works in cooking. In some places such as the UK it is sold processed which basically means it is grated and combined with flour to keep the individual pieces from clumping together, and it becomes a sort of dried out short strands, almost granular in texture.

For people on a gluten-free diet be careful as most if not all the processed stuff uses wheat flour, though the vegetarian version normally uses rice flour. You can get suet directly from the butcher and I suggest if you want to try this challenge fully you go down to your local butcher and ask them if they can source some for you. If they can it will not be expensive as it is just fat and they might even give it you for free!.

For those going “Yuck! Fat from the inside of an animal … no thank you!”, I have some good news. There is a vegetable suet available here and indeed anyone can substitute a hard, white vegetable fat. Wikipedia says the UK vegetable suet is made from palm oil so something of that ilk would work. I am led to believe a vegetable shortening, like Crisco will give you a similar effect. So please feel free to use whatever you feel most comfortable with or can get. Lard is also a possibility. Ideally steer clear of things like butter or soft margarine as you will get a very different texture and taste however if you are not comfortable using any of the fats I've suggested I am providing some links to recipes using butter right at the bottom (and one vegan) but read all the tips before that anyway You could even try substituting something like Coconut oil if you wish but in both these cases try a sponge pudding first as they are more tolerant of such changes.

However, back to the real stuff assuming you feel happy to use it. If you manage to get some from the butcher you will end up with something very much like this.

The packet stuff looks like this both the meat and veggy versions which is probably easier for most people to deal with if you can get it.

However if you are going the whole hog and trying the fresh stuff then the fat then needs separating from the membrane that holds it loosely together. Personally I normally just pull it apart with my hands and crumble the fat off the membrane but if you wish to make sure you completely remove everything except the pure fat you need to render it.

To render the fat, chop or grate it up and put in a pan. Then you slowly heat it over a low flame until it is completely melted. Carefully, because hot fat is very much not something you want to get on your skin, pour it into a sieve lined with cheesecloth to remove all the little bits of membrane and such like from the pure fat. If it still has bits in reheat until liquid and restrain.

So once you have your suet or suet substitute, what are we going to make with it? The answer to that is of course suet pudding. However I am giving you not one but two forms of suet pudding and both can be either savory or sweet so you have lots of options to play about with the idea.

The two basic types are a suet crust pudding with a filling or a suet sponge pudding. Examples of a pudding with a crust are a steak and kidney pudding or a Sussex pond pudding and examples of the sponge pudding are spotted dick, Christmas pudding and college pudding.

Both types are traditionally steamed in a pudding basin for at least an hour and this is a technique I know some people rarely, if ever, use. However it is very simple and can be done with the simplest of equipment. All you really need is a reasonable size saucepan with a lid, ideally with a heat proof plate or a steamer rack to go in the bottom of the pan and heat proof bowl or similar container to cook the pudding in. You can even go more basic than that and wrap the pudding in a cloth and hang it in the pot of water to boil!

Other uses for suet include dumplings for stew, making mincemeat for mince-pies, mixing with seeds to make fat balls for birds and as an extremely high calorie survival food for extreme environments such as arctic expeditions.

So the required elements of this challenge are:

1) to make a suet pudding using real suet or as close a replacement as you can manage or is acceptable to you; and
2) to cook it by steaming or if you want to be even more traditional by boiling tied up in a cloth.

Due to the short amount of time I ended up having to get this challenge together I have not tried out all the recipes recently, however they are all ones I have either used in the past or from sources I know to be extremely good for these sort of recipes.

Recipe Source: Recipes come from the following sources: Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course, The pudding club (, Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management and the Dairy Book of Home Cooking and my family’s recipe notes!

Notes: Fresh suet should be kept in the fridge or do what I do and freeze it. I crumble off what I want as I go straight from the freezer. The boxed stuff can live in the cupboard.

The easiest way to steam a pudding is in a dedicated steamer as the water is kept away from the pudding so it can’t boil over. If, however, you don’t have a steamer use a pan large enough to easily fit the bowl you are cooking. Don’t fill the water more than about a third of the way up the bowl or it may boil over and into the bowl. Keep an eye and top up as needed with boiling water.

You need to lift the bowl off the bottom of the pan. This can be done with a steamer stand, an upturned plate or even crumpled up kitchen foil — anything that can stand being in boiling water and lifts the bowl off the bottom of the pan will work.

Make sure you have a well-fitted lid on the pan as you want the steam to cook the pudding not to boil off.

Make sure you put a pleat in the foil or paper you cover the bowl with to allow for expansion and then tie down tightly with string.

This is a bowl ready for the steamer, note the handle made from the string that also ties it together around the top.. this makes it very much easier to lift out when hot and is well worth doing.

This bowl is actually a Christmas pudding I made before Christmas which is also a suet pudding but unlike most made to keep for months rather than used straight away.

Variations allowed: You are allowed completely free rein on flavours and fillings and I am very much looking forward to seeing where the Daring Bakers take a very traditional dish like this.

Any variations due to restricted diets are of course allowed. Due to the way these recipes are cooked it’s very easy to substitute for gluten-free flours and get very much the same results as wheat. Do try your favorite flour mix as these are much more tolerant of flour changes than most pasty.

They can be made vegetarian and even vegan just by using the vegetarian replacement suet and an appropriate flavour/filling.

Preparation time: Preparation time is 5 to 20 minutes depending on the filling. Cooking time is 1 to 5 hours so do this on a day you have jobs around the house to do or are popping in and out as you need to occasionally check the pan hasn’t boiled dry! However it is otherwise a very low time requirement dish.

Equipment required:
• 2 pint (1 litre) pudding bowl or steam-able containers to contain a similar amount they should be higher rather than wide and low
Traditional pudding bowl so you know what is normally used.

• Steamer or large pan, ideally with a steaming stand, upturned plate or crumpled up piece of kitchen foil
• Mixing bowl
• Spoon
• Measuring cups or scales
• Foil or grease proof paper to cover the bowl
• String

Type 1 Puddings — suet crusts.

Pudding Crust for both Savoury Pudding or Sweet Pudding (using suet or a suet substitute):


(250 grams/12 ounces) Self-raising flour (Note* If you cannot find self-raising flour, use a combination of all-purpose flour and baking powder.)
(175 grams/6 ounces) Shredded suet or suet substitute (i.e., Vegetable Suet, Crisco, Lard)
(a pinch) Salt and pepper (Note* If making a savory dish, can be replaced with spices for sweet if wished.)
(210 millilitres/a little less than a cup) Water (Note* You can use a milk or a water and milk mix for a richer pastry.)

1. Mix the flour and suet together.
2. Season the flour and suet mixture with salt and pepper if savory and just a bit of salt and/or spices if sweet.
3. Add the water, a tablespoonful at a time, as you mix the ingredients together. Make up the pastry to firm an elastic dough that leaves the bowl clean. The liquid amounts are only an estimate and most recipes just say water to mix.

4. Don’t over handle the pastry or it will be too hard.
5. Reserve a quarter for the lid and roll out the rest and line a well-greased bowl.
6. At this point add your filling.. a couple of options are give below but have fun and go wild!
7. Roll the final piece of pastry out into a circle big enough to cover the top of the basin, dampen the edges and put in position on the pudding, pinching the edges together to seal.
8. Seal well and cover with a double sheet of foil – pleated in the centre to allow room for expansion while cooking. Secure with string, and place it in a steamer over boiling water.
9. Steam for up to 5 hours, you may need to add more boiling water halfway through or possibly more often. There is a lot of leeway in this steaming time and different recipes give different steaming times. Delia Smith says 5 hours for Steak and kidney where as Mrs Beeton says 2.5 for a similar dish! One way to tell that it is cooked is when the pastry changes colour and goes from white to a sort of light golden brown. It is also hard to over steam a pudding so you can leave it bubbling away until you are ready.

This one is a steak and onion one cooked for 1.5 hours.

This sort of pastry can also be used as a topping for a baked meat pie and becomes quite a light crusty pastry when baked.

Savoury Pudding Filling options: steak and kidney pudding.

1 full amount of suet crust (see recipe above)
(450 grams/about 1 pound) Chuck steak
(225 grams/about 1/2 a pound) Ox kidney
1 medium-sized onion
2 teaspoons well-seasoned flour
splash of Worcestershire sauce

1. Chop the steak and kidney into fairly small cubes, toss them in seasoned flour, then add them to the pastry lined basin.
2. Pop the onion slices in here and there.
3. Add enough cold water to reach almost to the top of the meat and sprinkle in a few drops of Worcestershire sauce and season with salt and pepper.
4. Follow the rest of the instructions in the crust recipe to finish pudding.
5. Cook for at least 2.5 hours (Mrs Beeton) up to 5 hours (Delia Smith).

Sweet Pudding Options: Sussex Pond Pudding

1 amount of suet pastry (see recipe above)
(120 grams/4.2 ounces) Demerara Sugar
(120 grams/4.2 ounces) unsalted butter
1 large lemon

1. Cut the butter into small pieces and put half in the basin with half the sugar.
2. Prick the whole lemon (preferably one with a thin skin) all over, using a thick skewer.
3. Place on top of the butter and sugar in the basin.
4. Cover with the rest of the butter and sugar.
5. Finish building the pudding as per the pastry recipe.
6. Steam for 3 ½ hours, or longer (for a really tender lemon), adding more water if needed.
7. To serve, turn the pudding into a dish with a deep rim, when you slice into it the rich lemon sauce will gush out.
8. Make sure each person is served some of the suet crust, lemon and tangy luscious sauce.

Type 2 puddings – Steamed Suet Pudding, sponge type.

(100 grams/4 ounces) All-purpose flour
(1/4 teaspoon) salt
(1.5 teaspoons) Baking powder
(100 grams/4 ounces) breadcrumbs
(75 grams/3 ounces) Caster sugar
(75 grams/ 3 ounces) Shredded suet or suet substitute (i.e., Vegetable Suet, Crisco, Lard)
(1) large egg
(6 to 8 tablespoons) Cold milk

1. Sift flour, salt and baking powder into bowl.
2. Add breadcrumbs, sugar and suet.
3. Mix to a soft batter with beaten egg and milk
4. Turn into a buttered 1 litre/ 2pint pudding basin and cover securely with buttered greaseproof paper or aluminum foil.
5. Steam steadily for 2.5 to 3 hours
6. Turn out onto warm plate, Serve with sweet sauce to taste such as custard, caramel or a sweetened fruit sauce.

Spotted Dick - Add 75g/ 3oz currants and 25g/1 oz of mixed chopped peel with the sugar.
Syrup or Treacle or Marmalade Pudding – put 2 Tablespoons of golden syrup, treacle or marmalade at the bottom of the bowl before adding pudding mix.
My Fair Lady Pudding – Add finely grated rind of 1 medium orange or lemon with the sugar.
Ginger Pudding – replace the sugar with 100g/4oz of treacle, and add 1/2 tsp ground ginger.

Additional Information:


Suet substitutes:

Vegetable suet:

Delia Smith shows you how to make suet pastry with step-by-step photos here: (

Video of the whole process of making a suet crust pudding.

Video of making a steamed pudding:

A very good place to find recipes for many British puddings is the Pudding Club website

Steamed Pudding:

Mrs Beeton of course had many suet based puddings in her book and lists many of them. Some are described as boiled but nearly all can be steamed in a bowl in the same way as the full recipes I've give here including Staffordshire Fig Pudding: (, boiled raisin Pudding (, Boiled Rhubarb Pudding (, ginger pudding ( and several more.
Christmas Pudding

Bacon and Leek Pudding:

Butter based versions of steamed pudding

Found a vegan one I can't vouch for it but thought it might be a starting point for someone.

The whole of Mrs Beeton on line
and just the puddings