Daring Bakers: Steamed Puddings

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.


Now, as a vegetarian, I’ve gone away from the traditional suet here in favour of a different fat: butter.  And because it’s me, I’ve gone whole wheat with the sponge… But I stuck to the traditional British pudding method of steaming!  I rigged up a set of ramekins in a casserole dish with some water in the bottom, and steamed in the oven.

While I was in the research phase of preparing this dish, I asked my folks (who both attended South African boarding schools) if they remembered being served puddings.  I was answered with big smiles, and long lists of their favourites, including custards, bread pudding, mango fool, rice pudding, and Christmas cakes.  Something for me to go explore — I’ve just picked up Nigel Slater’s Real Fast Puddings, and can’t wait to try some more traditional British desserts out in my kitchen.

Rhubarb Steamed Pudding

Adapted from BBC’s Good Food Recipes: Rhubarb Steamed Pudding, Serves 4


  • 350g fresh rhubarb , cut into 4cm lengths
  • 75g sugar
  • 2 tsp. fresh ginger, microplaned or grated


  • 125g sugar
  • 125g butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 175g whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt

Start by preparing the rhubarb:

Preheat oven to 300F.

In a medium pot over low heat, cook the rhubarb with the sugar and ginger for 2-3 mins until slightly softened. Set aside, away from heat.

Grease four large ramekins (I sprayed them with cooking spray, it’s just so easy).

Now we move onto the sponge:

Cream together butter and remaining sugar, then add vanilla and eggs.   Fold the flour, baking powder, and salt into the mixture.

Spoon the cooked rhubarb into the ramekins, then spoon the sponge mixture on top and level off surface.

Cover each ramekin with a piece of parchment paper.  Then cover with aluminum foil and tie tightly with string so that steam doesn’t get into the puddings.

Place ramekins in a casserole dish half filled with water, and cook for 1½ hrs, checking regularly that the pan does not boil dry.  They will look like this once they’re ready to come out of the oven:


Remove cover, invert the ramekins onto a plate, then carefully lift off the ramekins.  If it scares you to flip them out, I recommend my tried-and-true technique of yelling: “One, two, three, GO!!!” at the top of your lungs and then flipping them like a madperson.  It works, I am telling you now, just like it does for crepes.


I must tell you, I am truly in love with this dessert.  A steamed cake really didn’t sound all that appealing to me, but WOWIE!  This was so amazingly light and tender and softly sweet, and amazing.  I will definitely be making this one again — and likely for dinner parties, as it comes together so quickly and easily but looks so pretty and won’t be overly heavy at the end of a big meal.  Thanks to Esther at The Lilac Kitchen for this Daring Baker’s Challenge, which has given me a new addition to my dessert repertoire — it’s incredible!


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Categories: Dessert, Vegetarian


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17 Comments on “Daring Bakers: Steamed Puddings”

  1. Jacquie
    May 3, 2010 at 4:59 pm #

    YUM with a capital Y!! I luv anything with rhubarb & luckily I have a lovely patch that originates with my Gramma from many years ago…this sounds so tasty, but I’m not surprised lol…thanks Linz!

    • May 4, 2010 at 8:34 am #

      @Jacquie — oh yes, it is SO good, you MUST give it a try, it’s so easy too!!! I think it would be nice to put a bit of ginger in the sponge part, too!

  2. May 4, 2010 at 2:58 am #

    It’s common to use Atora suet for this kind of pudding. Atora also do a lite/vegetarian version, made out of vegetable oils.

    However, I stopped using it because if I recall correctly, it was made out of hydrogenated oils. I’m pretty sure it’s still the case, but they now call it, quote “59% vegetable oil”.

    Nowadays, for recipes with suet, I use half oil and half butter – it works a treat

    • May 4, 2010 at 8:37 am #

      @Linda – Eck, I’m a little scared of hydrogenated stuff too… but the half oil/half butter plan sounds good. I just made sure to find a butter-based recipe instead of a suet one! I think some of the interesting oils (walnut, hazelnut) could help add flavour, too.

  3. May 4, 2010 at 11:20 am #

    Rhubarb pudding sounds delicious! I thought about using whole wheat flour next time I make one, so it’s good to know that it works well. I love the individual size, and thanks for the tip on flipping them! 🙂

    • May 4, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

      Jeanne — I’m always hesitant to go right to the 100% whole wheat swap-out, when I haven’t ever made it with white or even 50% whole wheat first, but it was glorious! I think the steaming really helped to keep the texture light.

      And you’re welcome for the flipping tip, I should trademark it! 😉

  4. May 4, 2010 at 1:01 pm #

    I love how you used whole wheat flour and rhubarb, that would be a great combination and YES I agree totally steaming puddings are so light moist and they have the most amazing crumb and texture. Well done on this challenge and nice photographs also.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  5. May 4, 2010 at 1:08 pm #

    Thanks, Audax! All of your puddings were an inspiration! I think I need to try a savoury one because of you!!

  6. May 4, 2010 at 5:09 pm #

    Alright, looks like its time to try my hand at steaming a cake…I’ve never been much of a baker, and absolutely never considered steaming them, but these look wonderful, and I absolutely adore rhubarb…

    …thanks for the tips!

    • May 4, 2010 at 5:11 pm #

      Yes, you MUST try it.

      I didn’t even know that I *could* steam cake, so this was a real revelation for me too!

    • May 4, 2010 at 5:16 pm #

      HAHA, excellent… I win! 😉

      And I’d love to see what you get out of it!

  7. May 5, 2010 at 1:12 am #

    How lovely your mini puddings! I tried whole wheat flour as well but it didn’t turn out as fluffy as yours. Well done!

  8. Francesca
    May 8, 2010 at 2:21 pm #

    I can’t tell you the childhood flashbacks I’m having right now!!! I hope we can make this together sometime soon. xoxoxox

    • May 8, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

      As soon as you’re back, we’ll do puddings 🙂


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