Over the last few days, as the heating clicked on and mornings turned cold and crisp, I’ve found myself beginning to crave hearty soups and stews and comforting puddings. After a trip to the Farmers’ Market yesterday, I was inspired by the seasonal goodness all around – and with brambles well into their season, I’m adding them to all manner of dishes. This old-fashioned steamed bramble pudding, a recipe passed on to me by Alison Henderson of Colstoun Cookery School, really fits the bill as far as comfort and seasonality is concerned. Simple in essence, the steaming method transforms a staple sponge into something else: moist, wholesome but unstodgy, and deliciously nostalgic. The brambles cut through its sweetness, soaking deep into the pud they turn almost aromatic from the long, slow bake. The perfect pud to have bubbling away on the stove on a rainy day like the one I made it on; the cooking process is long but requires minimal attention and is well worth the wait. To make the pudding, you will need:
150g softened butter, plus extra for greasing
125g caster sugar
125g self-raising flour, sieved
Grease a 1.2 litre ovenproof pudding basin and line the bottom with a disc of parchment. Fill a saucepan – big enough to contain the bowl and cover it with a lid – with 2 – 3 centimetres of water. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (you can do this by hand or use a stand mixer) then beat in the eggs one at a time.
Fold in the flour, followed by the milk, until you have a smooth batter.
Put the blackberries into the prepared bowl and cover with the sponge mixture, ensuring it reaches no higher than three quarters of the way up the bowl.
Cover with foil, pleated in the middle (this allows room for the steam to expand) and seal around the edges of the bowl. I then tied string around the bowl for easing of lifting it out.
Bring the water in the pan to the boil, lower the bowl carefully into it and put the lid on. Reduce the heat so that the water is just simmering. Steam for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, checking every once in a while and adding more boiling water to the pan as necessary.
Meanwhile, make a coulis by cooking 200g of brambles over a low heat, adding sugar to taste, then passing them through a sieve to remove the pips. Once the pudding is cooked, run a knife around the edge of the bowl and, working quickly and confidently, turn it out onto a warmed plate. Don’t worry if a little sticks like mine did – it will still taste delicious and nobody will notice once it’s drizzled with fresh coulis!
Serve with your favourite accompaniment – ice cream, custard or pouring cream! Autumn pudding perfection.
Thanks again to Alison for sharing this recipe for old-fashioned steamed bramble pudding on the Autumn Foraging Course at Colstoun last year.