I joined a "cooking club" so to speak called "The Daring Kitchen". You can either enroll as a Daring Baker or a Daring Cook, or both. I joined as a Daring Baker. Each month a member of the club hosts the challenge and chooses a dish that everyone has to try. The host will tell you whether substitutions can be made and what exactly is required of you. So this was my very first challenge. The challenge was unveiled to its members on the first of the month, and I'm not kidding when I tell you that I was up early on March 1st, logging onto the Daring Kitchen website to see what I had gotten myself into. We have to reveal our results on our respective blogs on the 27th. They do blog checks to ensure that the participants have, in fact, participated and so there are mandatory lines we must include in our post and they are:
The April 2010 Daring Baker's challenge was hosted by Ester of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional ingredient: suet.
Okay, now that that's out of the way, let me tell you about this fun little exercise. The idea was to try a traditional British Pudding - which meant steaming. Ester did allow that the participants use a suet substitute (lard, butter, oil etc.) but there was no getting around the steaming. Admittedly, the recipe I chose from one of the permitted sources: The Pudding Club website was not exactly "traditional" but it did fulfill my obligations. A lot of people chose a savoury version (i.e. steak and kidney pie) but that did nothing for me. It was with much trepidation that I tackled this challenge, I've never steamed a dessert, but as it turns out, my fears were completely unfounded. This was easy to throw together, and I'm thinking I may even do it again. I don't have a proper pudding basin for steaming, and I was more confused by the diagrams and suggestions of make-shift steaming contraptions offered by the members of the club. In the end, I pulled out a cheap ceramic bowl I'd bought at Ikea years ago, put a piece of pleated foil over it to allow for rising:
tied some butcher's twine around the neck (cause that's what everyone else was doing)
and then I stuck the bowl inside my metal steamer/colander; placed that over a pot of boiling water; and then waited with baited breath.
After an hour and a half of steaming (I did use a lid), I had a delicious, moist and very chocolatey "pudding" (or cake to the rest of us) that looked like this:
What was all the fuss about? I waited until the last possible day to do this challenge because I was so unsure, but I was quite pleased with the final results. Honestly, the idea of signing up for a club that basically forces me to try new things, things that I would probably never otherwise try, was really scary initially. But now, I realize I was being silly. Of course, I say that now, not knowing what the May challenge will be...I just hope it's something delicious that is worthy of being served at my Mother's Day dinner that I'm hosting.
The only negative thing I'll say about this is that it's not exactly the most pretty dessert. You can try to dress it up and make it look elegant (and I did try) but in the end, I settled on tossing it in a bowl with a scoop of my homemade vanilla ice cream and calling it a day.
Now, if only I'd had some of that Chocolate Fudge Sauce left...
If you're interested in trying this out for yourself, check out this link: The Pudding Club