I’m not sure why steamed puddings went out of fashion; they are easy, easy to make, they do take time to steam, but they don’t have to be watched during the process, maybe just top up the water every now and then, and the puddings don’t require any special equipment. I’ve heard people say that steamed puddings are “heavy and stodgy,” no heavier to me then a big slab of cheesecake after a meal. I didn’t grow up with steamed puddings for desserts, my grandparents were of Polish and German descent, and steamed puddings weren’t in their culinary repertoire, steamed and boiled desserts are solidly English with recipe sources for boiled puddings going as far back as the 15th century. it was in the 16th century that the trend began to sweeten and steam the puddings rather then boil, this helped to lighten the texture. This recipe for Madeira pudding, is very easy, yet curiously the recipe doesn’t have any Madeira in it, and I cannot find a similar recipe for this dish in any of my English cookbooks including Mrs Beeton; probably there was Madeira in it at one time, but perhaps owing to either economy or temperance, or maybe even running out of it one day…the Madeira was left out and the result was just as good? This recipe really does produce a light pudding, I used marmalade for the jam and then served it with a apricot jam sauce. This little pudding served with a sauce is enough to serve six people who are looking for a little something after a meal, just enough to make you wish that there was more.
Madeira Pudding from the Five Roses Cookbook pub. in 1915 (written as published)
2 eggs (I used organic large eggs, mine came to 4 ounces)
Weight of 2 eggs in Five Roses flour (again, I used organic, unbleached, the flour called for originally would have also been unbleached)
Weight of 2 eggs in butter
1/2 teaspoon in baking powder (of course the addition of the baking powder lightens the pudding and would have been a 19th century addition)
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of jam (I used 2 generous tablespoons of marmalade, as this recipe does note include any other sweetener)
Cream the butter and flour together(make sure the butter is room temperature) and work in the eggs. Then add the baking powder and salt. Mix in the jam. Butter a mold (mine is a 2 cup plain pudding basin) fill three parts with the mixture, steam one hour.
Note; There is a lack of directions in this recipe as in all other recipes in the book as there is an assumption that the cook knows what she is doing…knows how to tie a pudding basin with a pleated paper top, tie it and then use a trivet in the pot. Pour in boiling water to half way up the basin, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and steam, top up water levels if needed. This pudding steamed for 65 minutes and I didn’t have to top up the water. Remove from heat, remove the “lid” from the pudding, let cool 5 minutes then invert onto serving dish. I like to pour some sauce directly on the dessert and then additional sauce on each portion. This can be reheated in a microwave.