Text Susan Jung / Photography Jonathan Wong / Styling Nellie Ming Lee
I had never tasted a steamed pudding until I moved to Hong Kong - they're not that popular in the United States, where I grew up. I prefer lighter steamed puddings to the super-dense, heavy ones made with suet. The two recipes below are delicious with the same accompaniments of caramel sauce and honeycomb.
Warm banana steamed pudding with caramel sauce and molasses honeycomb (pictured)
This steamed-pudding recipe is adapted from one for banana muffins in The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.
For the pudding:
115 grams very ripe bananas (weigh after peeling)
60 grams sour cream
1 large egg
¾ tsp vanilla extract
70 grams unsalted butter, softened
75 grams sugar (I use muscovado, but granulated or soft brown sugar are other options)
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda, sieved through a small strainer
¼ tsp fine sea salt
100 grams cake flour, sifted
For the caramel sauce:
200 grams granulated sugar
40 grams light corn syrup
60 grams butter, at room temperature
About 100ml cream, at room temperature
¼ tsp fine sea salt
30ml brandy or cognac
For the molasses honeycomb:
80 grams unsalted butter
160 grams granulated sugar
80 grams molasses
2 tsp baking soda, sieved
Double cream, to serve (optional)
Spray six moulds (preferably ones that are taller than they are wide) that hold about 150ml each. In a food processor, purée the bananas with the sour cream until smooth. Mix in the egg and vanilla extract.
In a bowl, beat the butter with the sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat just until smooth. Add the flour and half the banana mixture, stir to combine, then turn the beater speed to medium-high and beat for 20 seconds. Scrape the bowl and beaters with a rubber spatula. Stir in the remaining banana mixture then beat for 20 seconds. Scrape the bowl and beaters again, and stir with the spatula to make sure everything is well combined. Divide the mixture between the six moulds - they should be filled to just above the halfway point. Place the moulds in a dish that fits into a tiered steamer and set it over boiling water. Drape a paper towel over the top of the moulds (this prevents condensation from dripping onto the puddings), cover the steamer with the lid and steam for 15 minutes or until set - the surface of each pudding will be firm. Remove the paper towel (if it pulls off part of the top of the puddings, that's fine, because when they're inverted for serving, the tops will be on the bottom). Cool the puddings to room temperature.
Make the caramel sauce. Put the sugar and corn syrup in a medium-sized pan and add about 75ml of water. Place the pan over a medium flame and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil then use a pastry brush dipped in hot water to wash the sugar crystals from the sides of the pan (this prevents the caramel from crystal-lising later). Simmer the mixture without stirring until it turns a medium-dark amber; occasionally swirl the pan so it colours evenly. Remove the pan from the heat, add the butter and stir. The mixture will boil and send off a lot of steam, so avert your face so you don't get burned, and wrap your working hand in a dry dishtowel. When the butter is melted, stir in the cream and salt, then mix in the brandy or cognac. Check the consistency - it should be pourable; if needed, stir in more cream.
Make the honeycomb. Lightly spray a baking tray (about 16cm x 16cm) with pan coating, line it as smoothly as possible with aluminium foil, then spray the foil. Put the butter, sugar and molasses in a medium-sized saucepan and set it over a medium flame. Stir the mixture until smooth and bring it to the boil, then stop stirring. Use a pastry brush dipped in hot water to wash the sugar granules from the side of the pan. Simmer the mixture without stirring until it reaches 150 degrees Celsius. Remove the pan from the heat then add the sieved baking soda and whisk briefly, just until it's roughly combined; do not overwhisk or it will collapse. The mixture will immediately start to foam and rise - pour it into the prepared pan. Do not spread the mixture or it will collapse. Cool completely. Break up the mixture into rough pieces then place into an airtight container. If you don't use it immediately, wrap the container in a double layer of cling-film.
To serve, invert the puddings onto a plate and remove the moulds. Wrap them loosely with cling-film and microwave until hot. Put the puddings on individual plates. Briefly microwave the caramel sauce until it's warm. Pour the caramel sauce over the puddings, garnish with pieces of honeycomb then serve with some double cream, if desired.
Apple-cinnamon steamed puddings
60 grams unsalted butter
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
80ml whole milk, at room temperature
150 grams plain (all-purpose) flour
50 grams whole-wheat flour
100 grams granulated sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp fine sea salt
300 grams apple, peel and core removed
Melt the butter then cool it to lukewarm. Roughly grate the apple. Spray 10 moulds that hold about 150ml each with pan coating.
In a large bowl, thoroughly combine the flours with the sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk the egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Mix in the milk then the butter. Immediately add this mixture to the dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula. Stir only until the dry ingredients are moistened - do not overmix; the mixture will be slightly lumpy. Add the apple and stir briefly. Divide the batter between the moulds then steam them as in the first recipe. Remove the puddings from the moulds then serve with the caramel sauce and honeycomb, adding double cream if desired.