It’s cold and wet in Adelaide. After an extended warm autumn that seemed to last until well through May, at last winter has arrived. In my house, winter means fires and soups and stews and pudding. Extra food to keep our bodies going in the cold, and extra comfort for the dreary days.
My girls love chocolate self-saucing pudding. So do I, because it’s very, very easy to make, and the ingredients can be assembled a little ahead of time, then quickly mixed together and the pudding put into the oven just before I start doing the last minute prep for the meal and getting the girls to set the table. 45 minutes later, the pudding is cooked and ready to eat, usually a few minutes after we have finished eating and clearing the first course.
First, assemble two sets of ingredients. In one bowl, mix together 2/3 cup of brown sugar, and 1/4 cup of cocoa powder. It’s a good idea to sift the cocoa powder. to get any lumps out of it. This mix of brown sugar and cocoa powder will become the sauce. Sometimes I add a pinch of salt, to round out the flavour of the sauce. Set the sugar and cocoa mix aside.
In another, larger bowl, mix together 1 cup of plain flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder (substitute 1 cup of self-raising flour for the plain flour and baking powder if you like), 1/2 cup of brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons full of cocoa powder. Again, it’s a good idea to sift the cocoa powder and the flour and baking powder. Set the flour and cocoa and sugar mix aside.
Melt 60 grams of butter, and set it aside.
Beat together one egg and 1/2 cup of milk and set aside. I usually just use a fork to beat the egg and milk mix: the idea is to beat it until the egg is broken up and thoroughly mixed through the milk, not to get it light and fluffy as you would for a sponge cake. Again, set the mix aside.
And last of all, grease your baking dish. I use a 2-litre (about 3.5 pints) pyrex casserole dish, with high sides.
All these ingredients can sit on your kitchen bench for a while. All day would not be sensible, given the milk and egg, but they should be fine for up to an hour or so, ‘though you may want to put the milk and egg mix in the fridge if you do this.
Make sure you start your oven warming so that you have it at 170 degrees Celsius when the pudding goes in (that’s about 350 Fahrenheit). When you are ready to start assembling the pudding, put the kettle on, because you will need 1 and 1/4 cups of boiling water. Then, stir the milk and egg, and the melted butter into the flour, cocoa and sugar mix. When the batter is smooth, pour it into the casserole dish. Don’t try to spread it to the edges: you want it to sit in the middle of the baking dish, leaving space for the sauce around the side. Sprinkle the cocoa and sugar mix over the top, reasonably evenly, and then carefully pour 1 and 1/4 cups of boiling water over the whole thing. Don’t just slosh the water in – try to pour it slowly and evenly, so all of the cocoa and sugar mix gets wet.
Into the oven it goes, for about 40 to 45 minutes, or maybe a little longer, depending. If you are using a small baking dish, it may be worth putting a baking slide under the dish, to catch any drips. The pudding is ready when it feels firm and cakey, and there is a rich chocolate sauce bubbling at the side. Be careful if you test the pudding’s readiness with your finger: the sauce burns!
I let it sit for a few minutes, so that the sauce thickens up, and the pudding cools a little. Then I dust it with icing sugar, and serve it with thickened cream. It’s delicious. My girls usually lick their bowls clean.
This recipe makes enough for all five of us to have a good sized serving, and there’s still enough left for the first person up the next morning to have the leftovers for breakfast. You could serve up to eight people, especially if you added icecream on the side. If you are only cooking for a couple of people, then the recipe can be halved quite successfully. However it’s a little difficult to get half an egg. I use a whole egg – the smallest one I have on hand – and 3 tablespoons (45ml) of milk.
Puddings spell comfort to me. I have fond memories of a glorious steamed pudding that friends made one night when I was staying with them in Canberra, served with runny custard and cream. I had two helpings. My mother used to make us “Children’s Favourite Syrup Pudding” and hot fruit sponges, to warm us up in cold and wet Taranaki winters. The food of love.
What puddings do you make and love?