This Burnt Sugar Steamed Pudding recipe is a traditional New Zealand delight is infused with the rich flavor of caramelized sugar, resulting in a moist and indulgent treat that is sure to impress.
It's the only steam pudding recipe to know when growning up in New Zealand and it’s thanks to my best friend who is Maori. Special occasions at her house saw her stepmom make a version of this burnt sugar steamed pudding made in small aluminium cans cleaned out and their labels removed. They were always portioned up and served with a generous drizzle of pouring cream.
Burnt Sugar Steamed Pudding is often associated with special occasions. However, it's important this delightful dessert deserves to be enjoyed beyond holidays or exclusive gatherings.
Table of Contents
Why you'll love this
Moist and Tender Texture
The steaming process ensures that the pudding remains moist and tender, resulting in a perfect balance of softness and delicate texture, making this dessert an absolute delight.
Irresistible Caramel Infusion
The burnt sugar in this steamed pudding recipe adds a delightful caramel essence that elevates the flavor profile. Each bite is a perfect balance of sweetness and richness, making it a truly indulgent dessert experience.
Perfect for Any Occasion
Whether it's a special celebration, a cozy family gathering, or a quiet night in, Burnt Sugar Steamed Pudding is a versatile dessert that suits all occasions. Its comforting flavors and beautiful presentation make it a show-stopping finale to any meal.
What is Burnt Sugar Steamed Pudding?
Burnt Sugar Steamed Pudding is a dessert infused with the rich flavor of deep caramelized sugar. It is a popular dessert that can be enjoyed as is or served with whipped cream, a drizzle of pouring cream or even a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
History of Steamed Pudding
Whilst some research has shown no specific origins of Steamed pudding and it's link with Maori people in New Zealand. There are reasons that point to why this is such an important dish in Maori culture. Firstly, the Maori tradition of steaming food, includes the traditional cornmeal dessert called Kanga waru. This is often cooked alongside a Hangi (a method of steaming food in a pit with heated rocks). And secondly, the rich cultural heritage of steaming food in New Zealand likely played a significant role in the acceptance of British steamed puddings, introduced by settlers to the Maori people. If you know any more about this, do let me know in the comments!
Ingredients and substitutes for Burnt Sugar Steamed Pudding
- Sugar: This doesn't just add sweetness to the pudding, you'll make some burnt sugar which will add a beautiful deep caramel flavor too. See FAQ's for type of sugar, if you're unsure!
- Plain flour: You don't need much and don't want to overwork the dough so you don't make these too stiff. However, you can substitute with self-raising flour here and leave out the baking soda.
- Baking soda: The key to the pudding rising so don't leave out, unless you are using self raising flour. You cannot sub baking powder like for like for this recipe as baking soda is 3-4 times stronger, which would leave an after taste!
- Butter: Unsalted butter or salted butter work here. You could substitute with non dairy butter, though I haven't attempted this so cannot say what the final result would be.
- Ground spices: Spices add a depth of flavor that compliments the burnt sugar, (see FAQ's for specific ground spices).
- Eggs: As well as adding structure to the pudding, the eggs will bind everything together so are essential.
See recipe card for quantities.
How to make Burnt Sugar Steamed Pudding:
Set the bowl inside your pot: Place the bowl you intend to steam the pudding into your pot. Ensuring it is snug and not touching the bottom.
Get your pot going: Place water into your pot for your bowl to fit snuggly and set on low to medium.
Burn your sugar: Place the sugar into a pot and burn until golden, adding boiled water to create a syrup.
Start your pudding base: Stir the flour and sugar together. Then rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Spice it up: Add in the ground spices and stir through.
Make a well: Pour in the beaten eggs and burnt sugar syrup.
Combine: Mix until no dry portions remain and the pudding is smooth.
Cover: Cover with baking paper and aluminum foil and wrap it all tightly.
Steam: Put the bowl into the simmering pot and cover. Leave for 2 hours.
Remove carefully: Once you peel the greaseproof paper and aluminum foil back; dive a skewer in and the pudding is perfect when it comes out clear.
Invert: Place a plate that is wider than the diameter of the bowl and flip upside down. The pudding can slide on out.
Serve: Allow to cool to warm, drizzle over custard or pouring cream and enjoy.
Equipment needed to make this
Mixing bowl: You’ll need a large mixing bowl to prepare the batter.
Stand or hand mixer: A stand mixer or hand mixer works best here to prepare your cake.
Saucepan: You’ll need a small saucepan to create your burnt sugar.
Large pot: A large pot that fits your steaming bowl snugly is required.
FAQ's for the best Burnt Sugar Steamed Pudding
The sugar is not specified in most versions of this pudding recipe. Thanks to it's fine texture and sweetness superfine or caster sugar is best for both the burnt sugar and pudding. The burnt sugar would be great if replaced with raw or light brown sugar. A dark brown sugar would lend too strong a flavor, so is not recommended here.
In the background research, only one recipe specified ground allspice, or ground cinnamon. For this pudding recipe, there is a mix with ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ⅓ teaspoon ground ginger and a pinch of ground nutmeg. However, this could easily have 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon alone included as the spice flavor is very light.
For optimal results, choose a steaming bowl that is at least ⅓ larger than the uncooked pudding to allow room for it to rise during the cooking process. It's important that the bowl fits snugly against the edges of the pot to prevent any unnecessary movement while steaming.
Your pudding will rise during the steaming process so you'll want a bowl at least ⅓ bigger than the uncooked pudding when it sits therein. The bowl should also sit quite snuggly against the edges of your pot so it doesn't bounce around during the steaming process for a nice balance there.
The best way to tell you is to show you in this video, skip to minute 8 where you'll see how to cover with greaseproof paper and aluminum foil.
The cooking time for steaming may vary depending on the size of your pudding mold and the intensity of the heat source. Generally, it takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to steam the pudding until fully cooked and has a springy texture. It's important to monitor the water level in the steamer and add more as needed to ensure proper steaming.
Absolutely! In fact, making Burnt Sugar Steamed Pudding ahead of time can enhance its flavors. Once steamed and cooled, you can store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. When ready to serve, reheat the pudding by steaming it again until heated through. This dessert is perfect for entertaining as you can prepare it in advance and focus on other aspects of your meal.
Other New Zealand desserts you'll enjoy
Burnt Sugar Steamed Pudding
- 65 grams / 5 tablespoons sugar
- 250 milliliters / 1 cup freshly boiled water
- 350 grams / 2 ½ cups plain flour
- 250 grams / 1 ¼ cups superfine/caster sugar
- 250 grams / 8.8 ounces butter cubed and chilled
- 1 teaspoon ground spices see note
- 5 grams / 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 165 grams / 3 large eggs room temperature and beaten
- Before you do anything, make sure the bowl you will be using to make the steamed pudding fits well into your pot with water in it.
- You want it be a little snug so it doesn’t bounce around in the simmering water.
- With your prepared pot to steam the pudding in (see note), place on low to medium heat with the lid on.
- Toss the sugar evenly into a saucepan and place on medium high heat.
- Meanwhile, boil your water and measure out a cup.
- As soon as the sugar is a caramel color and fully dissolved, remove from the heat. Stirring in a third of the boiled water.
- Add another third of the water and stir, repeating with the last portion.
- Pour the burnt sugar mixture into a bowl and set aside to cool.
- Place the flour and sugar in a bowl and stir to combine.
- Add in the cubed butter and rub the butter in until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Toss in the ground spices and baking soda and stir through, making a well in the center. Add in the beaten eggs and burnt sugar syrup.
- Fold the dry mixture into the center to incorporate until the mixture resembles a loose batter.
- Lightly flour the inside of your pudding bowl and pour your batter into it. If using the same bowl to steam, as you mixed, simply wipe the edges clean so the baking paper can sit on top.
- Measure out greaseproof baking paper that has at least 2 inches overhang on the edges of the bowl. Measure out aluminum foil that has at least 2 ½ inches overhang.
- Lay the greaseproof paper down on your work bench and lay the aluminum foil on top. Ensure the aluminium foil covers the greaseproof paper completely.
- Pinch the middle of the two grabbing a ½ an inch and fold over to allow a small overlap in the event your pudding expands.
- Lay the greaseproof and aluminum foil on top of the pudding, (greaseproof side down). Press firmly to tighten the edges all around your pudding bowl.
- Wrap twine around the edges tightly twice and tie one side. Allow an overhang of remaining twine on opposite sides of your bowl.
- With the overhang, pull tightly and tie securely to the twine that has been wrapped (this will be your ‘handle’ to remove the bowl from the pot later).
- Place the covered pudding in your pot for 2 hours with the lid on.
- Remove the pudding from the heat and carefully unwrap.
- Test it is fully cooked through with a skewer.
- Invert onto your serving plate.
- Slice and serve while warm with some pouring cream or custard.
- Dig in!
- Best spices for the pudding: In the background research, only one recipe specified ground allspice, or ground cinnamon. For this pudding recipe, there is a mix with ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ⅓ teaspoon ground ginger and a pinch of ground nutmeg. However, this could easily have 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon alone included as the spice flavor is very light.
- Best sugar for your pudding: The sugar is not specified in most versions of this pudding recipe. Thanks to it's fine texture and sweetness superfine or caster sugar is best for both the burnt sugar and pudding. The burnt sugar would be great if replaced with raw or light brown sugar. A dark brown sugar would lend too strong a flavor, so is not recommended here.
- The best bowl to pot ratio: For optimal results, choose a steaming bowl that is at least ⅓ larger than the uncooked pudding to allow room for it to rise during the cooking process. It's important that the bowl fits snugly against the edges of the pot to prevent any unnecessary movement while steaming.
- Can be made ahead of time: Once steamed and cooled, you can store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. When ready to serve, reheat the pudding by steaming it again until heated through. This dessert is perfect for entertaining as you can prepare it in advance and focus on other aspects of your meal.
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