When it comes to Carrot Pudding, I break from tradition. That's probably because I grew up with plum pudding - more fruit and luscious dark seeded raisins and carrot pudding was an acquired taste, rather later in life. What you see at the top of the post is a favourite carrot pudding, adapted from a recipe from the BBC Good Food of a decade or so ago. It does have carrots, but also canned not candied pineapple, slivered apricots, golden raisins and I like to add some dried sour cherries or cranberries.
To get the glossy top, there's a drizzle of corn syrup at the bottom of the pudding bowl, followed by some of the pineapple, apricots and slivered almonds that are part of the pudding batter itself.
You can serve this pudding with lightly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and save making a sauce.
2 tbsp (30 mL) corn syrup
1 can (14 oz/398 mL) pineapple slices preserved in juice not syrup
1 cup (250 mL) slivered dried apricots
1/2 cup (125 mL) slivered almonds
1 cup (250 mL) coarsely grated peeled carrots
1/2 cup (125 mL) dried sour cherries or cranberries or extra apricots
1/2 cup (125 mL) golden raisins
1-1/2 cups (375 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp (15 mL) baking powder
1 tsp (5 mL) freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1-1/2 cups (375 mL) fresh bread crumbs
3/4 cup (175 mL) butter, softened
1-1/4 cup (300 mL) packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tbsp (15 mL) finely grated orange rind
. Butter an 8-cup (2 L) heatproof pudding bowl or mould. Spoon the corn syrup into the bottom of the bowl.
. Drain the pineapple, reserving the juice for another use such as in a punch or as a spritzer with soda water for the cook. Cut the pineapple slices into chunks a slim half-inch (1.25 cm) wide. Spoon enough of the chunks to cover the bottom of the bowl. Add 2 tbsp (30 mL) each of the apricots and almonds; set aside.
. In a bowl, combine the remaining pineapple, apricots, almonds, cherries and raisins. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt; mix in the bread crumbs. Set these dry ingredients aside.
[caption id="attachment_841" align="alignleft" width="450" caption="Freshly grated nutmeg adds a big bonus of flavour."][/caption]
. In a separate large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.[caption id="attachment_839" align="alignleft" width="450" caption="Be sure to stop the beaters and scrape down the side of the bow from time to time. "][/caption]
. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, then the orange rind. Alternately add the dry ingredients and the carrot mixture, making 2 additions of the dry and 1 of the carrot mixture. Fold in the remaining almonds.
. Scrape into the prepared pudding bowl. Press down firmly on the batter; smooth the top. Cover the batter with a disc of parchment paper or waxed paper cut to fit.
. Make a 1-inch (2.5 m) pleat down the centre of a piece of foil cut large enough to cover the top of the bowl and extend 3-inches (8 cm) down the side all round the bowl. Press the foil down the side of the bowl; Tie string tightly around the bowl about 1-inch (2.5 cm) below the rim.
. Fold the foil up to the rim and trim off any extending above the rim.
. Place the pudding bowl on a rack in a deep stock pot or Dutch oven. Pour boiling water into the pot, avoiding the pudding bowl, to come halfway up the side of the bowl.
. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, adding boiling water if necessary to maintain the level, for 3 hours. Remove from the pot.
. You really don't need to test the pudding, but if you do, uncover the pudding and test that a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Recover and set the pudding on a rack to settle if serving immediately, or to cool completely if making ahead. (Make-ahead: Let cool completely. Refrigerate for up to 1 week. Resteam until hot, about 1 hour. Or, unwrap, run a flexible blade down the inside of the pudding bowl and turn pudding over onto a microwaveable plate. If the pudding is in a metal mould, lift it off and cover the pudding loosely with a large microwaveable bowl or plastic wrap. Microwave at medium until steaming hot, about 5 minutes.)
. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Tip: If you don't have an 8-cup (2 L) pudding bowl or mould, you can use 2 smaller bowls as long as they are heatproof. Steam the puddings until they pass the doneness test above, about 2 hours.
Liz Driver's Carrot Pudding
Culinary Historian Liz Driver claims that Carrot Pudding is one of the rare only-in-Canada dishes. Other cuisines make puddings - think English Trifle or Portuguese Arroz Doce (rice pudding) , other culinary traditions include carrots in desserts - South Asian Cajar ka halva (carrots cooked with spices and milk until thick, creamy and sweet) comes to mind. Only in Canada have carrots been so beautifully integrated into the tradition of a steamed pudding
The ingredients in the pudding her mother made when she was a child, and which she continues making every Christmas, are simple, and economical. Carrots, potatoes - both grated raw, mixed with spices, some candied fruit and raisins and steamed and enriched with either suet (the traditional fat) or butter which works just as well and satisfies her vegetarian son. (See below for the butter variation.) The pudding ages well, but Liz Driver has been known to steam the pudding fresh on Christmas Day - not a practice she recommends, but then, these are busy times.) Liz flames her pudding, adding drama to the festive meal, and serves plenty of sauce, in fact she quadruples her mother's recipe. "You can't have pudding without sauce. It's like gravy: you can never have enough."
Here is the recipe from her mother's manuscript cookbook, that Liz Driver passionately defended at the ROM's Canadian Sweet Treats: Food Experts Debate the Classics. She even brought the ingredients, partly for fun, but also to show a piece of suet for audience members who have never used this traditional ingredient.
Steamed Carrot Pudding
Liz Driver believes that one of the reasons this pudding is so popular in Canada is the simplicity of the measurements. Most of them are 1 cup (250 mL).
1 cup (250 mL) each grated raw peeled carrot, grated raw peeled potato, packed brown sugar, grated suet, raisins and currants
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup (125 mL) candied lemon peel
1/2 cup (125 mL) candied citron peel
1-3/4 cups (425 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 mL) each salt and baking soda
3/4 tsp (4 mL) ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground cloves
. Grease an 8-cup (2 L) pudding bowl or mould, or a deep heatproof dish; if desired, line the bottom of the bowl with parchment paper cut to fit. Set aside.
. In a large bowl, mix together the carrot, potato, sugar, suet, raisins, currants, egg, lemon and citron peel. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Pour over the wet carrot mixture and stir just long enough to combine the ingredients evenly.
. Spoon into prepared bowl; pack down and smooth the top. Cover the batter with a disc of waxed or parchment paper cut to fit. Drape a sheet of foil over the rim of the bowl; make a 1-inch pleat in the centre. Press the foil down the side of the bowl. Tie string around the bowl about 1-inch (2.5 cm) from the rim. Press the foil up over the string and trim the foil to the top edge of the bowl.
. Place the pudding basin on a trivet or rack (or the ring from a preserving jar lid) in a large deep saucepan so that the basin does not rest directly on the bottom of the saucepan. Add boiling water to about half way up the side of the pudding basin.
. Cook the pudding at a low boil for 3 hours, topping up the water level with boiling water as needed. Note that there is no need to check the pudding for doneness - it will be done at the 3 hour mark. Remove from the pot; let cool on a rack.
. Make-ahead: Wrap in heavy-duty foil or enclose in an airtight container; refrigerate for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 6 month. Thaw before continuing.
. To serve, either resteam the pudding as directed above for 1 hour. Run the flexible blade of a knife between the outside of the pudding and the bowl. Turn out onto a rimmed plate or tray. Or, to microwave, remove the foil and parchment paper; loosen the sides with the blade of a flexible knife and turn over onto a heatproof plate. Microwave on medium until steaming hot, about 5 minutes. Lift off the bowl.
. Serve with Pudding Sauce, below. Makes 8 good helpings, 12 if guests have had seconds of stuffing.
Variation: To substitute butter for the suet, the best way to make the pudding is to beat 1 cup (250 mL) softened butter with the brown sugar and to beat in the eggs. Measure all the grated carrots, potato, raisins, currants, lemon and citron peel into 1 bowl, and the dry ingredients into a second bowl. Add half the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, then all the carrot mixture and finally the remaining dry ingredients. Proceed with packing and steaming as above.
Liz Driver's family love this old-fashioned sauce and she usually makes four times this amount.
1/2 cup (125 mL) packed brown sugar
1 tbsp (15 mL) flour
1 cup (250 mL) water
2 tbsp (30 mL) butter
2 tsp (10 mL) white vinegar
1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) ground cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
In a saucepan, whisk together the sugar, flour, and salt. Add the water. Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking or stirring constantly, until the floury taste is gone, about 10 minutes. Stir in the butter, vinegar, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. Bring back to simmer; stir in the vanilla.
. Serve in a warmed sauce boat or pitcher so family and guests can pour it over individual servings
Flaming the pudding (optional but worthy of the occasion)
Liz Driver recommends choose a silver serving plate or tray with slightly raised edges that will contain the alcohol. Warm the serving plate by filling it with hot water from the kitchen tap. Tip out the water and invert the hot pudding onto the plate. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, warm about 1/2 cup (125 mL) brandy or Cointreau, to just before the boiling point (don’t allow it to boil and don’t leave it on the stove too long, or the alcohol will evaporate away, thereby losing its flaming properties). Pour the heated brandy or Cointreau onto the serving plate, around the sides of the pudding. Immediately, set it alight with a long match and carry the flaming pudding to the table. Caution: Flaming a pudding is dangerous and should only be done with the utmost care. Wear heatproof oven mitts when carrying the pudding and be sure there's a safe place on the table to set the hot serving tray.