The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet. Additionally, Esther wanted us to make our puddings using the process of steaming.
Well to be honset this was not what I thought my first daring bakers challenge with the http://thedaringkitchen.com would be about. Although it did not take me long to realize that this would indeed be quite a challenge for me. Actually there were many challenges that I stumbled into along the way. Overall, I am so glad that Esther chose this for my first Daring Baker Challenge because I probably would have never made a Traditional British Pudding on my own in addition to using suet for baking.
1st challenge ( as many will surely agree)
What is suet and where can I buy it?
Definition of suet: is raw beef or mutton fat, especially the hard fat found around the loins and kidneys (according to wikipedia)
Hmmm… okay so it is fat.
I learned that in the United States suet can be purchased at a butcher or a grocery store behind the meat counter. The first time I purchased the suet I was quite relieved when they knew what I was talking about because I had no idea how I was going to try and explain it! I had visited Whole Foods and it turns out that I was lucky they had it on hand and were able to give me some right then. I learned by visiting two other times and aksing if they had any suet that it was something that I needed to call ahead about to make sure they put some aside. Which definately made sense to me because who else would be wanting to buy suet….lesson learned. The other place that I went to check for suet was our local Pennsylvania Dutch Market. I went up to the butcher counter and asked if they had suet. The lady said yes and when she asked how much I was so excited that I just said 3-5 lbs! I know that it may sound like alot and when I was carrying my 5 lb bag of suet to the car it sure felt like alot. You see the tricky thing about purchasing suet is that when you render it down to make tallow it does not yield the same amount you started with.
How to render the suet and make tallow?
This is the part that I was really nervous about. I think it had to do with the fact that I would be working with hot oil and could burn myself. Although I was also unsure of what everything was supposed to look like during the process and how exactly the rendering was done. Luckily, this link http://cooklikeyourgrandmother.com/2008/04/how-to-cook-with-beef-tallow/ was posted in our Daring Bakers forum and boy was it a blessing! I really liked that it had a step by step process with pictures showing how to render the suet into tallow. After I had my suet and I also ended up purchasing a rice press, I was ready to begin rendering.
Oh I have made puddings before….but not this kind?!
I have made two types of puddings in my life. One being Jello pudding from the box mix. The other is one of my favorites a chocolate malt pudding from scratch. After both of those kinds are heated they get put into the refrigerator before you eat them. So this type of Traditional British Pudding was a new thing to me altogether. It did not require heating on the stove, never needed refrigeration, and depending on the kind you made was either like a sponge cake or had a crust with soup like contents inside. Also, the pudding could either be sweet or savory. I decided to lean towards the sweet side!
How should the pudding be covered and how long will it take?
I do own a steamer and I have bought the steamed vegetables in a microwaveable bag. Love them! Usually I steam vegetables with the steamer. I had never used the steamer or the process of steaming to cook something that typically goes into the oven to get baked. This pudding steaming process worried me quite a bit. I read that if I did not have my pudding covered properly then water could get in and my pudding could be ruined! I guess what I forgot to mention is that sometimes the steaming process can take up to 5 hours to cook. Now maybe you understand my fear a little better……
My two Traditional British Puddings that I made and the challenges I overcame when making them!