Monday, 1 September 2014

Great British Bake Along: Lemon and Pistachio Sponge Pudding

If you have watched the latest installment of the Great British Bake Off, you will know that it featured tantrums, flamethrowers, a bowl of black sesame ice cream melting into an undignified puddle (like a metaphor for the hopes of the baker who made it melting away) and the angry quiver of at least one russet beard.

OK, they weren't flamethrowers, they were blowtorches.

It's not my place to try and rival that kind of drama. I de not have the equipment, expertise, time or patience to make a baked Alaska or toil over a tiramisu cake. This week's signature challenge, which featured self saucing puddings, was the challenge that appealed to me.

So last Thursday night, inspired by the Bake Off, I finished off my dinner in style by baking a small, unpretentious, saucy little number - a lemon and pistachio sponge pudding.

As I felt uncomfortable making something unpretentious, I then plonked some spun caramel on top.

Here is my pretty much entirely made up sponge pudding recipe. Although most of the bakers used the fondant method for the self-saucing element of the pudding, I decided to go with the riskier method of making a sauce in the bottom of the pudding bowl which will, hopefully, run down the sides when the bowl is inverted. 

Give it a whirl, I dare you.

You will need:

For the pudding batter:
115g softened butter plus extra to grease
115g caster sugar
115g self-raising flour
2 large beaten eggs
1 tbsp milk
1 ½ tsp freshly ground cardamom
handful roughly chopped pistachio nuts
5 tbsp lemon curd
A 1 litre pudding basin

To decorate (optional):
1 tbsp finely chopped pistachio nuts
100g caster sugar
100ml water

1. Grease the pudding basin very well before putting the lemon curd in the bottom and placing in the freezer at least half an hour before needed. 

 2. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and creamy, then beat in the eggs gradually. Stir in the milk and sift in the flour and cardamom, folding in with a large metal spoon. Fold in the roughly chopped nuts and spoon into the prepared pudding basin. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour.

3. While the pudding is baking, prepare the caramel by heating the sugar and water in a pan until bubbling rapidly. Do not at any point stir or the sugar will crystalise. Watch the caramel closely until it turns golden brown (the second picture below) - the difference between it being perfectly done and burnt is a few seconds and burnt caramel smells really horrible and will ruin your pans.

4. When the caramel achieves the right colour, take it off the heat, dip a metal spoon with a heatproof handle in and flick rapidly back and forth over the greaseproof paper to create a crosshatch pattern of caramel sticking to the pistachio nuts. When the caramel begins to cool, dribble some over the nuts more slowly to create more solid, less brittle bits of caramel. Leave to set.

5. When the top of the pudding is golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean it is ready to come out of the oven. If the top seems to be colouring but the middle of the pudding is uncooked, put a bit of foil over the top to stop the top from overcooking.

6. Invert the pudding on a plate and tap the bottom of the pudding basin sharply. If you have greased it thoroughly the pudding should slide out. If not, loosen the pudding by running a knife around the edge of the basin. Carefully peel the spun pistachio-studded caramel off the greaseproof paper and place on top of the pudding.

A traditional British style sponge pudding livened up by the addition of pistachios and the heavenly combination of lemon curd and cardamom.

Freezing the bowl before making the pudding should mean the lemon curd doesn't cook into the sponge but does trickle down the sides when you lift the bowl away. Saucy.

You may find it nigh impossible to remove caramel from your pans - I simply add more water and put them back on the heat until the caramel dissolves away.

I remain yours, bedrudgingly,


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