Rhubarb Berry Steamed Pudding – the Daring Baker’s Challenge, April 2010

by Irvin on April 28, 2010 · 24 comments

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In a fit of anxiety that I wouldn’t have anything to blog about (apparently that’s not an issue as I seem to have a backlog of posts that I’m trying to catch up on) I joined the Daring Kitchen group Daring Baker’s Challenge. For those not in the know, they challenge everyone in the group to bake the same thing and then post simultaneously the results of the baking on the 27th of the month. 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.

I’m not squeamish about food ingredients. In fact, I’m not squeamish about nearly ANYTHING when it comes to food of any sort (hello, I’m Asian and have eaten pretty much anything and any part of most commonly eaten animals). However, I really didn’t want to go down the route of tracking down and processing suet. Suet, if you are unfamiliar with the ingredient, is hard beef or mutton fat found around the loins and kidneys. It’s a traditional ingredient in making British steamed pudding. Steamed puddings like the much maligned “Spotted Dick” dessert and the traditional kidney and onion pudding. My friend Peter would probably love this challenge, as he loves pretty much anything related to meat or animal parts (which leads to all sorts of interesting conversations when I am around him and his partner Grant who is a vegetarian).

However, I was so NOT enthusiastic about this challenge. I don’t know why, as usually I love to play with ingredients that I’m not that familiar with. But the idea of tracking down suet (which, in a food town like San Francisco, probably wouldn’t be that hard) and then grating it and rendering it down just seemed like a lot of work for a dish that never really appealed to me in the first place.

I love the British. I love the fact that they gave us French and Saunders and AbFab and Anthony Steward Head (Giles from Buffy!) and The Beatles and Kate Bush and Kylie Minogue (ok, I know she’s Australian, but she moved from Australia to England to launch her music career, so I’m gonna count her in this list). They gave us James Bond and The Spice Girls and William Shakespeare! They gave us The Sex Pistols and punk rock and Princess Di. And yes, they gave us Sir Alec Guinness – Obi-Wan Kenobi. For that AJ will be forever grateful.

I love the guard at Westminster Abbey who adored us when we visited (he asked where we were visiting from, and when we replied “San Francisco”, gave us a lascivious wink and said “Luv your city!” as he held open the door for us).

I love the fact that when I was in London with AJ, we actually were stopped at the entryway of the dance club G.A.Y. and grilled on whether or not we understood what sort of club we were going to, and if we were ok with that. Um. Yeah. The club is called G.A.Y. We know what sort of club is it. Not ALL Americans are ridiculously stupid.

I, do NOT, however really love traditional British food. I’m not talking the new British food explosion Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay British food. I’m talking old school black pudding, kippers, pickled cabbage and the aforementioned Spotted Dick. Don’t really care for it. And this challenge seem to fall squarely in that category.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love me some chicken tikka marsala and I love fish and chips (both of which we ate tons of when we were in London). But for the first challenge in the Daring Kitchen Daring Baker’s Challenge was definitely something I wasn’t enthusiastic about.

So I put off making the dish until this past weekend. And when I finally tried to track down suet, the people I talked to said they needed a two week lead time to get it. Ah my laziness….

Going back to the original post about the recipe I read a little deeper. Esther generously supplied MANY variations of the recipe, including some vegetarian version and some that used butter or shortening. In fact, she encouraged people to make their own version of the steamed pudding.
Yay! So I took a BBC recipe for a sweet rhubarb steamed pudding recipe and adapted it California style. Fresh seasonal fruit (well, okay the blackberries aren’t quite in season yet, but I couldn’t resist as they looked really good at the store – plus I wanted a fruit that had some natural pectin in it to help gel the topping) created what sounded like a heavy winter dessert into a lighter spring/early summer dessert. And thus, my very first Daring Baker’s challenge was complete. Not bad for a first time. And next time I’m tracking down some suet and making me some “spotted dick”. No, actually I probably won’t. Because, as a gay man, I really don’t want anything to do with a substance called “spotted dick”.
Whilst baking, I listened to Beth Orton’s Trailer Park. Soothing and timeless.
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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

linda April 28, 2010 at 4:40 am

LOL I love yout extensive list of all things British that you love. As an Asutralian, we would like to reclaim Kylie Minogue =D What a great effort on your first DBC. You did a great job transformning what would otherwise be a boring pudding to something refreshing.


Mr. Jackhonky April 28, 2010 at 5:35 am

@Linda. LOL! Thanks! As I said in my blog post, I was initially skeptical about the challenge, but I wasn't going to skip out on my very first one! I'm so glad I didn't either! It was really fun to make!

And you can certainly claim Kylie back – sorry to try to make her British! I have such fond memories of her on Neighbors (I remember watching reruns of her on it when I lived in Holland back in the last 80's on the BBC).


S. B. Hadley Wilson April 28, 2010 at 6:10 am

How much money do you spend on ingredients to make all these fabulous dishes?! It's amazing to me that you have this much time to experiment with food. Actually, I take that back. Of course you have this much time — you make time — it's a passion of yours. (I do hate it when people say they don't have time to do something … they would if they turned off that damn television … okaaay!)

Anyhoo, again, this made me real' hungry. Strawberry rhubarb pie was one of my grandmother's specialities. (Wait, did I already tell you that or did I tell you about picking blueberries in Maine?) Anyhow, I love all things rhubarb.

And finally, I loved the music selection even though I've never heard of the song or the artist. I just love all things trashy, especially le chateau blanc in the late night.



petoke April 28, 2010 at 9:13 am

thank goodness you weren't able to find suet. that sounds unappetizing. I was going to say gross, but I am trying to polite. ok, no, it sounds disgusting. rhubarb & blackberries sounds delicious though.


Sinful Southern Sweets April 28, 2010 at 11:22 am

Nice job!! Looks beautiful!


Renata April 28, 2010 at 11:58 am

Looks really good! Congratulations on your challenge! I didn't go the suet way but I really enjoyed the sponge butter pudding .


Audax April 28, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Hello and welcome to the Daring Bakers' I hope you have many happy experiences with us. Congratulations on your first successful challenge.

Love your list of English loves (though I'm Aussie and I'll take back Kylie LOL) of course in the Land of Oz we do a lot more puddings than people form across the Pacific so it wasn't so bad.

Your music selection has a lot of merit to a degree haha (just kidding it's great) I went to Dublin and left in love with the people and place there and the food which is very "English" to me.

Beautiful photo of the pudd well done on this challenge.

Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.


elra April 28, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Well done on this month challenge. I really like the vibrant color from the rhubarb and berry. Very pretty.


The Betz Family April 28, 2010 at 9:35 pm

Your pudding looks great! The rhubarb and blackberries on top look delicious. Amazing that you can get such a great cake out of steaming, huh. Nice job on the challenge and welcome to daring bakers!


Apu April 29, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Great post and beautiful looking pud!! By the way, I visited your blog today for the first time via the Daring Kitchen – its wonderful and I love your story on the introduction page!!


Aparna April 29, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Welcome to the DB community and congratulations on a first challenge done extremely well. Your pudding looks beautiful.


Jenni April 29, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Great job! Your steamed pudding looks fantastic! I bet it tasted great, too! Welcome to the Daring Bakers!! I hope you enjoy all the great challenges!


Mr. Jackhonky April 29, 2010 at 5:26 pm

So much love from the Daring Baker's Community! Thanks so much!

@Sinful Southern Sweets. I love your name.

@Renata. I agree, the sponge butter pudding was really delish.

@Audax. Yay Australia! I can't wait to visit Australia and experience the food there. Also I'm officially giving Kylie back to you guys!

@Elra. I was so pleased with the way the colors worked as well on my pudding as well when I unmolded it!

@The Betz Family. The rhubarb and blackberry combination was great. I can thank David Lebovitz for inspiring the combination

@Apu. Thanks! This blog is new for me, so I'm just excited people are reading it.

@Aparna. Thank you! I'm totally looking forward to more challenges.

@Jenni. Thank you! You daring bakers are awesome. Yay!


Mr. Jackhonky April 29, 2010 at 5:30 pm

oh yeah.

@Hadley. I spend significantly less money on my ingredients than you spend on La Mer products! Ha! Actually, living in San Francisco has made it really easy to find ingredients at a really reasonable price. So baking like this doesn't really break the bank. Plus rhubarb and berries are in season, so they are naturally cheaper. There's a total glut of strawberries out there right now. Which is great for me and other consumers, but probably not as great for the farmers….

Also Beth Orton is awesome. And totally not trashy. I think her album Trailer Park is totally a misnomer.

@Petoke. Rhubarb and Blackberry is a fantastic combination. But next time you come up, I'm totally tracking down some suet and making something with it for you. Ha!


Rita April 29, 2010 at 7:58 pm


I want pudding. Also, I had no idea that's what suet was. All this time I thought it was a kind of birdseed, i.e., a SEED.


Juline May 1, 2010 at 9:31 am

Your pudding looks fabulous, and your photos are beautiful!

I am a fellow Anglophile, though I wasn't thrilled when I saw we were being asked to use suet in a dessert. But I did it, and I'm glad I did. I've got a huge rhubarb plant in my yard, and I might just use your recipe to steam another pudding (though I'll skip the suet this time).

Welcome to the group!


Mr. Jackhonky May 1, 2010 at 11:27 pm

@Rita. I actually had no idea it was used for bird feed. Now I know. And yeah, II'll totally make pudding for you next time I see you. Man, I'm going to baking/cooking up a storm next time I see you.

@Juline. Yay! Thank you! I might have to track down some suet just to try my hand at it. But in the meanwhile I'm pretty happy with how mine turned out.

That said, I'm totally jealous you have a rhubarb plant in your yard! If you lived in San Francisco, or I lived up in Washington, I'd totally be angling to see if you wanted to swap some rhubarb for some lemons (of which, I can not use them fast enough).


Sara May 3, 2010 at 7:42 am

SO gorgeous! Love the colors of all the fruits on your pudding. Looks so delish!


Tara May 4, 2010 at 1:28 am

Nice, very nice all around. The colors, flavors, soundtrack, lack of suet . . . all great. Suet is pretty easy to come by around here, as lots of people use it for bird feed. I've never been able to fully believe it's the same substance used in British cooking, but then again I've never heard of/seen any "other" type of suet either. Still, it probably won't make it onto my "Must-Try" list anytime soon!


Mr. Jackhonky May 5, 2010 at 1:40 am

@Sara. Thanks! The colors did come out super awesome! I was so pleased with how it looked…

@Tara. Ha! I had actually never heard of suet before, and i'm a little creeped out that birds eat it. I don't think it's on my must try list anytime soon, but I'll probably tackle it one of these days just to see what the fuss is all about….


Anonymous May 17, 2010 at 3:25 am

Why wouldn't you just go to the grocery store and buy a bag of suet ready to use (only in Canada perhaps?)


Mr. Jackhonky May 17, 2010 at 6:04 am

@Anonymous. Yes, that would only probably be only in Canada. I can't find suet at our grocery store. Though, now that I think about it, I've never really looked. But since we can't even buy lard at our grocery store (at least not good lard) I'm pretty sure we can't get suet…


stockpots May 29, 2010 at 6:35 pm

Those are amazing. I wonder if it how can u make it that great. Thanks


Maria K November 17, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Ah! So that explains the shape. Your bastardised steamed pudding-cum-upside down cake looks superb! And such deep colours! I’m planning to make it, although in a pudding basin, but I’m also thinking it wouldn’t be bad as an actual upside down cake, perhaps with some modifications.

Of all the thinks listed that the British gave us, I’m afraid I only care for The Sex Pistols and punk rock (and maybe Alec Guinness); and a few great British scientists, I would add.

May I say though that there’s more to traditional British food than black pudding, kippers, pickled cabbage and Spotted Dick: for example, fish pie or cottage pie or pasties or roast rib of beef or mince pies or apple crumble or ginger pudding or treacle pudding (and you don’t need suet for those). The list goes on. Hope you get the chance to try your hand at some.


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