I love gingerbread in pretty much any form, and I am beginning to develop a love of steamed puddings – so naturally I had to try this 1875 recipe for a steamed gingerbread pudding.
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup molasses
- 1 cup of buttermilk
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp ginger
- Combine the flour, baking soda, and ginger in a bowl.
- Combine the molasses, buttermilk, and melted butter, then pour into the dry ingredients and mix well.
- Mix in the raisins (I actually completely forgot to add raisins, which is why there are none visible in the picture below. It still turned out well – so, raisins are optional!).
- Pour the batter into a buttered 2-pint pudding basin.
- Place a piece of buttered parchment paper over a piece of aluminum foil. Fold a pleat in the middle of both the paper and the foil; this gives the pudding room to expand. Place the paper and foil over the pudding basin, with the buttered side of the paper facing the pudding. Tie a string around the rim of the pudding basin and trim off the excess foil (or, ignore all that and just watch this video for a better explanation of how to tie up a pudding).
- Put an upside-down saucer on the bottom of a pot and place the pudding basin on top of it. Pour in boiling water until it reaches about halfway up the pudding basin.
- Keep the pot boiling for 2 hours; if you need to top up the water, make sure the water you add is already boiling.
- After two hours, take out the pudding, remove the foil and parchment paper, and turn out the pudding onto a plate.
Wine Sauce (this is one of several sauces given in the same book; you can use any pudding sauce you like):
- 10 tbsp water
- 6 tbsp sugar
- 4 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp wine
- Heat the water and sugar together, then stir in the butter until it is melted. Be careful not to let it boil.
- Add nutmeg and the wine just before using.
This is essentially just ginger cake, only steamed instead of baked. It turned out dark and rich, but nice and moist and not too dense. Although it was good with the wine sauce, the sauce almost made it too rich – I actually liked it better by itself.
In the 19th century, not everyone had ovens (and the ovens that existed were often difficult to deal with), so steaming a pudding on the stove top or over the fire could be a more practical way to cook. Although I have a functional oven, I’m really growing to love the texture and moisture of steamed puddings. I’m tempted just to turn all of my favorite cake recipes into puddings from now on!
The Ladies of the First Presbyterian Church of Meadville. (1875). The practical cook book. Pennsylvania: Stevenson & Foster. https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Practical_Cook_Book/8rxEAQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0