Whether you’ve grown up and lived in one place all your life or you’ve moved around and collected recipes like souvenirs as I have, you are sure to have favorite regional recipes that evoke a place, perhaps even a time for you. Regional and family recipes connect us to our parents and grandparents and the towns we call home. In creating them anew for our children, wherever we choose to raise them, we pass on not only the recipes but our cherished memories, stories, and traditions.
As a mother raising what is now known as Third Culture Kids or TCKs, I felt a great responsibility to make sure that our daughters learned about the culture and traditions of the countries we were living in. After all, one of the most valuable lessons we can take away from living in a foreign land is that our way of doing things is not the only way; it may not even be the best way. We learn and we grow as we expand our borders. I also considered it of grave importance to teach them about their own heritage and cultural roots from the sweet joys of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to the reasons we value the democratic system and should always exercise our right to vote. This challenge was further expanded by our mixed origins. My husband is British, while I am American, which meant that when it came to pass on food traditions, I had to cover both.
This rhubarb steamed sponge pudding is a much lighter springtime recipe, highlighting the gorgeous pink tart rhubarb that is available now, although you could also substitute whatever seasonal fruit you have on hand. I should point out for my non-British readers that this is actually cake, not pudding as some know it. Pudding is the British term for any dessert.
Rhubarb Steamed Sponge Pudding
For the pudding
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 oz rhubarb
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 7 tablespoons butter softened, plus extra for greasing
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup See Note.
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1 Grated zest 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup milk
For the rhubarb sauce (optional)
- 1 Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
- 12 oz rhubarb
- 1/8 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- In a small mixing bowl, sift together your flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Cut your rhubarb into lengths that will fit nicely in the bottom of a 1 liter or 4 1/4 cups pudding basin or metal mixing bowl.
- Butter the basin and then add the rhubarb, curved side down. Drizzle over the golden syrup.
- Beat the sugar and butter together until they turn light yellow and fluffy.
- Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition.
- Beat in the lemon zest and vanilla.
- Sift in the flour mixture and add the milk. Fold them both in.
- Spoon the batter into your pudding basin.
- Cover the basin with parchment paper, folding it over in the middle to allow room for expansion, and secure it with kitchen string.
- Before you cut the ends of the string, tie them to create a handle with which to lift the basin and trim excess parchment.
- Put the covered basin in a large pot and pour hot water into the pot till it comes two-thirds of the way up the basin.
- Bring the water to a gentle boil then cover the pot and lower the flame to simmer.
- Simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
- Once the steaming time is up, remove the basin from the pot.
- Leave to cool for five minutes, then run a knife around the edges of the sponge pudding.
- Turn out on a serving dish.
- Cut into wedges and serve with optional rhubarb sauce and pouring cream.
The Rhubarb Sauce
- If you are making the optional rhubarb sauce, you've got plenty of time while the pudding steams.
- Put all the sauce ingredients into a small pot.
- Cook for about 10 minutes, until the rhubarb has softened. Taste the sauce and add a little more sugar, if necessary.
- Cook till you reach a nice spoonable consistency, perhaps another 5 minutes.