It could be my New England roots, but I dearly love a good steamed pudding. Deeply flavored, moist and dense, it touches my soul. A steamed pudding speaks to me of family hearths and seasonal traditions.
I had my heart set on a Persimmon Pudding, much like the one my sister-in-law, Jan makes. Her well-balance cake has been in her family for generations, and bears all the ear markings of a time honored treasure. It is made in the Joy of Cooking mode of creaming the butter and sugar, then eggs and such are mixed in, followed by the dry ingredients, and finally, all other additives like nuts and raisins are stirred in.
Since persimmons have been readily available this year I was excited about the possibilities. I purchased a few good looking Hachiya and set them out to ripen. Two weeks later, still hard as rocks, it looked like the persimmons would not be ripe for a couple more weeks—perhaps in time for Christmas!
With persimmons out of contention for the moment, it looked like pumpkin might be the next best option. Besides, it’s Thanksgiving. Why not give pumpkin its chance to shine?
Turns out, pumpkin works well as a replacement for persimmons, with a few minor adjustments. Since persimmons can have a high acidity, baking soda is often used as a buffer. In this case, the baking soda was eliminated in lieu of baking powder for leavening. And what is pumpkin without brown sugar? So, a little was added in lieu of granulated sugar. Everyone was happy and into the mold it went!
In Jan’s recipe, the pudding was steamed on the stovetop for 2 long hours. Thanks to my trusty Instant Pot, the pressure cooker could reduce that cooking time by as much as 60-70%. Given the numbers, I opted for 35 minutes, with an additional partial natural pressure release time of 5 minutes. Worse case, I reckoned I could return it to the pressure cooker if it was not set.
Once complete and out of the pressure cooker, I opened the mold and checked the contents. It had raised, was a deep amber color, and the top looked quite moist, but that is not uncommon. I dabbed the excess moisture off with a paper towel, and moved it to a cooling rack. In no time, the cake began to pull away from the sides—which I took as a very good sign. It was holding its shape without a problem. Given 10 minutes, it easily unmolded onto the rack for further cooling. We have steamed pudding!
On this Thanksgiving, here’s wishing you all the joy of good food and good company.
Steamed Pumpkin Pudding
Inspired by Jan C’s family Persimmon Pudding
1/3 cup softened butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
12 ounces, or 1 can pumpkin pulp, approximate
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
- In advance: coat a 6 cup baking mold well with butter or spray thoroughly with bakers non-stick spray.
- Plump the raisins and orange juice: in a small microwaveable bowl, cover with wrap, and heat for 40 seconds in the microwave; set aside to plump.
- Combine the flour through the cinnamon and set aside.
- Set up Instant Pot with a rack, pour in 3 cups water and begin to heat the water, set to Saute function.
- To prepare the pudding: in a mixing bowl, cream the butter and granulated sugar, then beat in the brown sugar. Add the egg and beat well.
- Mix the pumpkin and vanilla into the butter and egg mixture. Add the dry ingredients, stir to combine. Add the raisins and nuts.
- Spread the batter into the mold, and cover with the lid if it fits in the pot, or lightly cover with foil. Set onto raised rack in the Instant Pot with water bath and seal the lid.
- Using Manual setting, adjust to Low Pressure and set timer to 35 minutes. When complete, allow Natural Release for 5 minutes and then use Quick Release. Remove from Instant Pot and let cool about 20 minutes before unmolding.
- If time permits, make a day or two in advance to allow flavors to blend. Store well wrapped in the refrigerator. Serve with custard sauce, a hard sauce or whipped cream. Serves 6 or more.