In the UK, we were brought up on steamed puddings. To Brits, they evoke both Dickensian feasts and nursery comfort food. Steamed puddings are easy to make and almost foolproof to cook. And they taste good. Unlike baked cakes, you don’t ever have to worry about them overcooking or burning. This wonderful steamed apricot pudding is made with my favorite canned fruit. You guessed it, apricots. Better yet, it is easy to prepare. You will need a 4 cup ceramic bowl preferably with a rim (or pudding basin if you have one), some parchment paper, twine, a trivet or coaster and a large pasta pot or saucepan with a tight fitting lid.
1. Grease a ceramic bowl with butter and sprinkle with the extra tablespoon of sugar and a tablespoon of the reserved syrup. Pile half the drained apricots in the bottom of the bowl, and cut the rest into a large dice. Set aside while you make the batter.
2. Put the softened butter, sugar, eggs and orange water into a large mixing bowl. Sift the whole wheat flour, almond flour, salt and baking powder over it. Beat together with an electric whisk until well blended. If the mixture seems stiff, add a tablespoon of milk or a little of the reserved apricot syrup to bring it to dropping consistency, where a small amount of the batter will fall off a spoon if gently shaken. Gently fold in half the diced apricots. Pile the batter gently into the bowl covering the apricots. Lightly smooth the top with a spatula.
3. Tear off a piece of parchment paper larger than the rim of the bowl. Fold a double pleat in the center and place the paper over the top of the bowl, folding the edges under the rim. Secure the paper by tying twine tightly around the bowl.
4. Set the bowl on a trivet or coaster inside a large saucepan. Pour enough boiling water into the saucepan to come up to about ⅓ of the bowl. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat down, cover with a lid and simmer for 1 hour. Check from time to time that there is still enough water in the pan.Always add boiling water during steaming to keep the heat up, never cold.
5. While the pudding is cooking, take an immersion blender and liquidize any leftover apricots with the reserved syrup. Add a few drops of orange flower water, if desired. Pour into a small saucepan and gently simmer until the syrup thickens by about a third. Set aside in a jug.
6. When both you and the pudding are ready, remove the bowl from the water and discard parchment. Run a knife round the edge to loosen it, then set a plate over the top and turn the whole thing upside down. Tap all over the bowl and lift it off the pudding. You will have a domed, speckled pudding with sticky apricot topping sitting on the plate. Pour the apricot sauce over it, and serve immediately in wedges with heavy cream or Greek yogurt.
Ann's Tips and Tricks
The pleats you make in the paper allow the pudding to expand while it cooks. Once they are cooked, steamed puddings aren’t fussy. They can stay sitting in the pan until you need them. If you find almond flour expensive, just use a full 1 cup of whole wheat flour.
This pudding uses a mix of almond and whole wheat pastry flours, but it can be made with all flour. Just eliminate the almond flour and use 1 cup wholewheat pastry flour.
Eat all sweet, sugary treats in moderation. A little bit of sweetness can do you good, but not if you overdo it! Dessert should always be a treat, never a habit.