Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Steamed Chocolate Pudding

I should clean the crumbs off the cake stand before snapping photos...
but sometimes you're just too busy eating chocolate cake to care about such things.

Today I'm trying out something new in my kitchen, a steamed pudding.

This dessert, as it turns out, was just meant to be.

Allow me to explain.

About a week ago, Mr. P of Delicious Delicious Delicious and I were discussing steamed puddings and sponges. It came up that I lacked a pudding basin--one of the more basic items in an English kitchen--or even knowledge of what a pudding basin was. In my defense they're not exactly easy to find around here. The bowls with their thick rims are no longer common place, outside of a few high-end cooking supply shops. Not to mention, pudding in my part of the States is limited, with few exceptions (save perhaps bread pudding), to the Jell-O sort. Sad but true.

So Mr. P was extolling the wonders of steamed goodies and I figured I was missing out and should venture into that baking realm. Eventually, should I ever find myself in possession of a good basin.

Then while at Sur la Table the following weekend, poking through the clearance baskets hoping to find some discount cooking treasure, I pulled out one of these.

I had absolutely no idea what it was. A small lidded bundt pan? Weird.

It had a small sticker that read "Pound Cake Mold" and although it looked nothing like any pound cake mold I had ever seen, the price was too good to pass up and I added it to my basket. I thought to ask an employee about it, but they know me there and I didn't want to look like some sort of baking-noobie, holding up an item that could be as basic as a rolling pin and asking what it was.

I may be Ms. Humble but that doesn't mean I am completely without ego.

So I get it home and Google pound cake molds and pulled up photos of pans that looked nothing like mine. It took a little work, but eventually I discovered I was now the proud owner of a steamed pudding mold. It differs from ceramic basins in that it has a central tube, like an angel food pan, to help evenly distribute heat. It also comes with a lid that snaps on, preventing the cake from becoming sodden during it's steam bath.

Now I could try to make steamed cake! Only… I had no recipes. Bummer.

Then I remembered a gem of a cookbook called Heirloom Baking, that I had come across only a few days earlier. A book filled with vintage American recipes. The sort found on yellowed scraps of paper in your grandma's cupboard. I thought that might have puddings in it, as steamed puddings were once commonplace. I suppose the reason has a lot to do with old wood-fired ovens and their somewhat unreliable temperatures, I was much easier to just boil a pot of water and steam your cakes… but I'm digressing here.

So I flip open my vintage recipe cookbook and what do I find: a steamed chocolate pudding!

So you see, this is how I went from total pudding-ignorance to pudding maker in a matter of days, almost by pure coincidence.

After tasting my chocolate pudding, I'm obsessed. Steaming cake is brilliant and so easy. The cake requires only a few minutes of hands on time and was easily thrown together while cooking dinner.

Steamed Chocolate Pudding
adapted from Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup dutch cocoa
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
1 heaping cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Kettle boiling water for steaming.

Liberally butter the sides of a 1 1/2 quart tin pudding mold and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the milk, beaten egg, molasses and vanilla, and then set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, brown sugar and salt. Combine with a whisk to break up any lumps. Pour in the melted butter and mix, then add the milk mixture. Mix to combine and then fold in the chocolate chips. Now you're ready to pour the cake batter into the buttered mold.

Place a round of buttered parchment over the mold and then snap on the lid.

Grab a large pot and something heat-safe and waterproof to place in the pot to keep the mold from touching the bottom. If you have a wire rack to set inside, great. If not, something like the ring from a mason jar will work fine.

Set your pudding onto the rack and fill the pot with boiling water so that the water level comes up roughly 1/3rd of the way up the sides of the mold. Place over high heat until the water comes back to a bare simmer, cover the pot with a lid and reduce heat to low. Allow the pot to simmer covered over low heat for an hour.

After an hour, carefully remove the pudding from the pot and set on a wire rack to cool. Remove the lid and parchment and allow the cake to stand for 10 minutes.

Then, while the pudding is still warm, invert it onto a serving plate. It should release easily from the mold.

The cake is best served warm. It will be moist, tender and full of bits of melted chocolate. Pair with a scoop of ice cream or lightly sweetened whip cream.


  1. Oh wow. That just looks decadent. I wonder if my Sur La Table has an extra one of those sitting around!

    I have heard you can make steamed puddings in a crock pot too, but I've not tried it...

  2. I'm seriously considering going back to my Sur La Table and seeing if they have any more molds in the clearance baskets.

    I think this is the beginning of a series of steamed puddings...

  3. I love Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters!

    This looks delicious, and like one of those cakes that's just begging to be slightly boozy.

    Julie @ Willow Bird Baking

  4. I love the Heirloom cookbook, I actually sat down and read it cover to cover.

    The Brass sisters have a very friendly and engaging way of writing.

  5. Your pudding reminds me of a wonderful dessert I tried in Austria, Mohr im Hemd (literally: Moor in a Shirt). A friend of mine makes a wonderful version of it, too. (

    I think I'm going on a hunt for a steamed pudding pan. Thanks for sharing!

  6. That looks so good. My first goal is to find a pudding basin when I move to the UK and make this cake/pudding!

  7. Yum. That's all I have to say. Yum.

  8. Oh what a pretty mold! Your steamed pudding looks like perfection. I wonder if you could use a bundt pan, and cover with the parchment and aluminum foil tied tightly with string. I may give that a try. Thanks for sharing and we look forward to more steamed puddings!


  9. this is such a lovely post…
    & YOUR style of writing is extremely engaging!

    so from this post i am going to:
    RUN- as fast as i can…in this heat- to my local sur la table to see if i can score a pound cake mold….
    BUY- the brass sisters bake book…

    thanks to you ms. h & mr. p!

  10. I'm drooling! I am seriously considering buying one online! They do have them on line a Sur La Table too!

  11. I'd highly recommend trying out a spotted dick type of recipe. I made it a few months ago and it was soooooo good... and stupid simple. And if you have a big enough slow cooker try steaming your cakes in that- works like a charm! The success with my spotted dick is the same reason I ended up trying the steamed beef and mushroom pie a few weeks later (the one I submitted to your pie contest).

  12. I found the bottom of one of these (I think...) in the basement of a house I was you think I could make a good enough seal with aluminum foil?

    I'm also imagining making cupcake versions in Mason jars, but would have to adjust the steaming time, I imagine...

  13. A layer of foil, tied on with kitchen string should work fine. Just keep the edges of the foil up and away from the waterline.

    You actually don't want too tight a seal on these pans, as they can explode. Just something to keep the water out.

  14. I have made "cake" in the crockpot a few times... so similar to this and it is sooo yummy! you do have to be very careful not to overcook though as it can burn... We do it when we go camping and the kids love it!

  15. When I went camping and steamed a cake over a double boiler in the middle of the forrest I thought I was the smartest person in the entire world!

  16. I made the steamed pudding this evening. The pan I used was a 1 1/2 qt. round Corning Ware casserole, the buttered parchment, and covered it with foil. At one hour, the center was not cooked, due to using a full pan rather than one with the hole in the center, I am sure. I put the cake back in the water bath for another hour and it was cooked perfectly. Now I know to cook it 2 hours from the start when not using the proper pan. Yummy!

  17. No pudding mold. No Sur la Table. Will just have to make do, because I need this cake now! Its chocolaty goodness is calling me.

  18. Oh wow.

    1. This looks amazingly delicious. Must try.

    2. I got to the phrase "my chocolate pud" and thought, "Oh honey, no." (Insert face of extreme dismay.) Uh, if you have no idea why I thought this, Google "pud." Just make sure the kids aren't present when you do. (Mental flailing.)

  19. (Google) Ahhh!! (Actual flailing)

  20. I Googled it too. Wow!! LOL Learn something every day!

  21. They don't come that shape over here! But I love it. I hope you all ate it warm. Otherwise, I shall have to insist you make it again. :)

  22. I have a pair of steamed pudding molds that have been in my family for at least 4 generations. We use them for Thanksgiving steamed apple meal pudding, which is a corn-meal based side dish with molasses and apple slices. My grandmother and mother also made steamed chocolate pudding in them, and now I guess I'm going to have to. They are not big around like bundt pans, but roughly cylindrical, about 12 inches deep, tapered, 8 inches across at the top and 6 inches at the bottom, with the tube in the middle and a hinged lid that latches.

    My grandmother had an electric oven that had a deep well in it for this purpose, down below the level of the burners. I've never seen this option in a modern stove (hers was 50s vintage) but I'd kill for it. It was also great for stews, sort of a pre-crockpot.

  23. P,

    It was done right after I finished so we had big hunks of steaming hot cake and cream. It was very good. It was also good cold the next morning, even though we had left it out uncovered on the cake stand. Still delicious and rather brownie like.

  24. I'm sorry, it's so unkind of me to laugh, but... you got me with (Actual flailing). Er... glad I could help? (She said, uncertainly.)

    What with this recipe, and the one from the next day for baked donuts, I foresee a trip to Sur la Table in my future. Curses. My kitchen is already overcrowded!

  25. Hi Ms. Humble,

    I come from the Czech Republic and we also use these forms without using the lid for a tradition baked cake. It is one the most favourite cakek and it is usually prepared by grandmothers. I believe it is a central-European speciality. We call it "b√°bovka".

    An easy and fast recipe for you:
    4 eggs
    250 g confectioner's sugar
    150 g plain flour
    100 g shredded coconut
    215 g heavy cream
    13 g baking powder
    pint of salt

    oil and flour for the form

    Separate the yalks and whites. Whip the whites with a pint of salt and a teaspoon of suger. Combine the rest of the sugar, than add the heavy cream and flour mixed with the baking powder. Softly fold in the whipped egg whites.

    Bake in the form oiled and sprinkled inside with flour in a medium preheated oven. Do not use the lid of the form. Bake at 180°C about almost an hour, check if it is ready with a wooden stick. Let it cool down well and then knock out of the form. It is also nice with lemon icing.

    It is also nice using poppy seeds or nuts instead of the coconut but in that case you might like to cut down on those a little bit and use more flour. You can also color about a third of the dought with cocoa powder, first pour the yellow dough into the form and then make a circle with the cocoa dough, it is heavier so it would stay somewhere in the middle and you will have a two-coloured cake slices.

  26. I love your postings and your wonderful photos- but with google reader I don't get to see any of them! I can see it with all the other blogs I am signed up to, is there any options you can choose so we get to read your full post in google reader? (I don't think I have the option of choosing but rather that is the blogger who decides this) thank you so much! Looking forward to seeing more of your postings!

  27. If you're interested in trying bizarre steamed pudding recipes, check out _Lobscouse and Spotted Dog_. A couple of ladies went through the series of books containing Master and Commander and put together a recipe for *every* mention of food in the series. Well, every recipe that was *legal*, anyway. Some are downright creepy and freaky, so of course my husband loves the book. :) It's got quite a variety of puddings, including tradtional ones like steak-and-kidney pudding, and some bizarre-yet-strangely-tasty ones like Drowned Baby.

  28. Found the steamed pudding pan at Sur La Table in Sunnyvale this weekend. Now can hardly wait to try the chocolate pudding. Maybe my grandmother's persimmon pudding next...


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