Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake

IMG_7016Even though today felt like spring, I know that winter is not yet half over… warm rich desserts still work this time of year. We may get a snowfall yet, but my cup is half full knowing that spring is almost here, or at least just around the corner. But, while the calendar still says winter, make a yummy mid-winter treat for your guests or family.

For a wedding between a British guy and an Indian girl last year, his request was to finish the meal with Sticky Toffee Pudding. We made a couple of changes to the traditional pudding after reading about the use of coffee for steeping the dates in BBC’s Good Food, and garnished it with gold leaf, bringing a little Bollywood to the dish (as remarked by a chef in the wedding party). For that event we topped it with a bit of whipped cream, but as shown here, a scoop of vanilla ice cream works beautifully as well. Continue reading

Apple Pudding

IMG_8706We’ve picked all our apples, and have them stored in twelve large bins in the barn. Getting them in by mid-October seems to be the right time. The late ripening Jonathans’ pips have turned brown, and their flesh is beautifully tinged with pink. From the three Gala, Bramley’s Seedling & Jonathan trees we probably have 700 lbs stored. This is after weeks of eating them, and feeding gallons of windfalls to the livestock. While we give away many, the bins will safely store them for us right through March. By March the apples will have had their run. The livestock will start to get the slightly withered ones that are still left.

One year in mid-November, when the trees were still fairly young, we were away for a couple of days. Both of us working different shifts, and not home together during daylight hours. On the second day, my husband noticed that I had picked all the apples. When I came home, I thanked him for picking all the apples. Oops! Neither of us had picked any apples. We checked all around the trees, and found cores everywhere. Our local branch of the raccoons had come in and done it for us while we were asleep. We got none. Ever since, we’ve tried to get them by mid-October at the latest.

With so many apples, most of our desserts tend to be apple based. For the past several weeks I’ve been working on an apple pudding that isn’t super sweet, and works beautifully whether an all-purpose wheat or Gluten Free flour is used. It has taken awhile, simply because we can only eat so many apple puddings! Friends and family have been kind when I turn up once again with a pudding as my contribution to dinner. I must say though, no one has ever turned it down, in any of its reincarnations. We enjoy it with a little custard sauce, or some Crème Anglaise. Continue reading

Steamed Cranberry-Ginger Pudding

IMG_5618In our childhood home, Christmas dinner used to always end with a suet pudding with hard sauce.  Lovingly made a month or so ahead of time to be part of the day’s celebrations.  Unfortunately, most of us children didn’t like the pudding.  It was too heavy following an exhausting day and a big dinner.  Even when we were told the stories of how our Grandmother used to make this very same pudding using her mother’s recipe (I know we have it somewhere, and when found, I’ll share it with you), we still weren’t enamored enough to enjoy it.

When our children were young, I started making a very simple gingerbread type pudding with cranberries and orange.  We would serve it with caramel sauce, and with a Grand Marnier hard sauce for the adults.  It made a great breakfast for Boxing Day, and became a bit of a tradition, until I lost my recipe.  I’ve been meaning to work it out over the past decade or so, but never seemed to get around to it.

This weekend, I finally did get around to it, and came up with individual puddings, which look so nice when plated.  Drizzle the plate with a bit of caramel sauce; place the pudding on top, with a small dollop of whipped cream.  Fancy, but not too fancy, just what’s needed after a feast.  Or just serve the puddings, and let folks pass the sauce & whip cream, and let them do it themselves.

Alternatively, you can douse the hot puddings with heated brandy and serve them flambé, or maybe just one to lead in with. IMG_5651 Continue reading

Pear & Ginger Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

What is it that makes something a comfort food?  It needs to be something that triggers good memories in your taste buds, and doesn’t take you to strange places flavour-wise.  I think bread pudding is one of the most wonderful desserts ever devised.  It’s such a simple dish, the basic version using day old breads, sugar, milk and eggs.  We can dress it up, like this recipe, as a dessert, or you can make it savoury for breakfast or brunch.  It can easily be made one day, and cooked the next.  It’s actually better for it.  Whether stuffed with raisins & currants or with pears & ginger, I’m pretty sure that it is one of the best comfort foods around.  Although, I always remember picking out the raisins when I was young.  Continue reading