Baked Treacle Pudding

The Golden Syrup can be replaced by jam with equally joyous results. A pudding basin is a kind of china bowl that goes into the oven.

I made this recipe for a St. Patrick’s party held by my friends (and extended family) Chris and Amanda.  It’s always fun making things from “The Cookbook” at other people’s places.  It gives me a chance to work under different conditions.  To make it even more interesting, the recipe was doubled to accommodate all of the attending people.  I’d like to point out that all of the pictures were taken by another good buddy, Robert Ohannessian.

One of the needed ingredients for this recipe is caster sugar.  You could go out and buy some for a pretty penny, or make your own by putting regular old sugar in a food processor or blender.  A quick blitzing, and boom – superfine sugar.

To make the sponge cake, caster sugar was combined with a decent amount of butter.

To that, an egg was gently mixed in along with some flour to prevent the batter from curdling.  The other eggs were added one by one and incorporated slowly.

Lots of freshly grated lemon zest was called for, and supplied.

Now for the “treacle” part of the dessert, Lyle’s Golden Syrup.  I hit up Wikipedia for more information about this UK-based concoction, and what is a treacle anyways?

Treacle is the generic name for any syrup made during the refining of sugar cane and is defined as “uncrystallized syrup produced in refining sugar”. Treacle is used chiefly in cooking as a form of sweetener or condiment.

Lyle’s golden syrup is a partially inverted sugar syrup. It consists of glucose and fructose syrup produced by inversion, which has been blended with the original sucrose syrup in a proportion that creates a thick mixture which does not crystallize.

Uh, okay.

What I was hoping for was a description of the flavors that are subtly hidden behind the overwhelming sweet nature of the golden syrup.  My palate isn’t as refined as I’d like, but I think that Lyle’s syrup tastes mostly of sugar with a lightly bitter caramel after taste,  hints of vanilla, and even lemon notes here and there.  It’s an unusual treat for those of us that don’t live in the UK, and I’m happy to have two cans in my arsenal now.

At this point in the recipe I needed to pour the Golden Syrup into a pudding basin.  Now, I do not have a pudding basin on hand.  They’re not terribly expensive if you really, really want to own one, but I figured that a Pyrex mixing bowl that had been buttered would work just as well in a pinch.  In went half the can of syrup…

… and the batter was spooned out right on top of it.

The bowl was then covered in foil, and placed in a medium hot oven for about an hour or so.  Doubling a recipe on the fly is always a blind experiment.  It should work perfectly, in theory.  Now that I think about it, I’ve had a lot more failures than successes trying to double recipes in the past.  I should probably stop trying my hand at theoretical cooking.

The only problem is that on the rare occasion things do work out well (like this one) it bolsters my confidence in my own abilities.  “See!  I’m getting better!  I know what I’m doing!”  Famous last words, right?

A quick flip out onto a serving plate and the baked pudding was completed.  As I cut into the golden brown mound, I noticed that the syrup had integrated itself into the outermost part of the cake, forming a slightly crunchy crust that stuck to your teeth.  The cake itself was wonderfully moist, had a fine crumb, and a refreshing lemon flavor thanks to the zest.  Amanda is an excellent baker in her own right and she really seemed to enjoy this cake, as did everyone else.

Perhaps the best part of this recipe is its simplicity.  Seven ingredients in total, easy to follow steps and a short baking time has earned this recipe a permanent spot in my head, right behind my grandmother’s fruit cobbler.  It’s just that good.

One down, fifty nine to go.

UPDATE: I’ve learned two new things about this recipe from the comments!

The first revalation comes from Gem of

If I can make a suggestion, if you find a smaller bowl than the pyrex then the batter will cook quicker so the syrup will remain a sauce with only a little of it soaking it, it shouldn’t be forming the crust that you mentioned.
Maybe try using some ramekins?

I’ll just have to make this again to get proper results. 

Secondly, Russel Everett (who has been featured here before) was kind enough to describe how to make your own Golden Syrup at home

Heads up, I use sometimes use Lyle’s Golden Syrup to brew certain British and Belgian beer styles. I got sick of paying for it, and having to go find it. So now I make it. It’s just invert sugar, after all. And it’s easy.

Invert sugar is just sucrose (table sugar) that’s been boiled in the presence of an acid. The sucrose breaks down into glucose and fructose, and becomes stable as a syrup, so it won’t re-crystallize.

To make it, I put a pound of sugar in a pot with a cup of water and a teaspoon of cream of tartar or lemon juice. We’ve got really soft water here, if you have hard water you should add a bit more acid. Bring it to a boil and stir the sugar into the water. When it’s boiling, stop stirring and watch it. It will start to turn color, and you can pull it when it’s gotten as dark as you want. And it will get more caramelly and intense, the darker it gets.

Lyle’s is a light, just slightly orangy color. You could boil it just for a minute or two for nearly clear, which is good for baking applications. I’ve also taken it to a molasses color for funky dark Belgian beers.

After it cools it’s shelf-stable for a long time, so you can put it in a jar. It should remain a syrup, if it recrystallizes you didn’t add enough acid. And you get a pound of it for about 75 cents.

Thank you both very much!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Tonight I’ll be making a recipe from, “The Cookbook” for a St. Patrick’s Day party, but in the meanwhile you should check out my new column over at Eat Me Daily called, “Top Of The Food Chain“.

I’m going to be talking about all of the various cuts of meat your local grocery store carries, and hopefully demystifying every aspect of them.  It’s gonna be an interesting, meat-filled ride.

Have a great day, drive safely, and stay away from green beer!

Guest Post – Boiled Tongue by Alex Rushmer

Welcome to the tenth guest post!  I’m letting anyone who wants to show off an offal dish submit a post with pictures.  Want to show everyone that snouts are superb?  Are you in mad for milt?  Let me know and we’ll post your hard work here.  This guest post comes from Alex Rushmer, and it originally showed up on his website Just Cook It.  He’s also got an inspiring post about beef cheek ragu you should check out too!

As far as titles go, the above is probably about as enticing as ‘How to Par-tay the Mormon Way’ but bear with me on this one. Please.

Granted, taken in turn neither of the two words is particularly exciting and together they create some sort of force field that for many will result in the gag reflex kicking in with gusto. Admittedly even I approached this one with a small amount of trepidation.

Like a badly executed kiss, it started with a tongue. A great big flapping, fresh, wet, grey, spikey tongue. Curled up on the chopping board it resembled some sort of Mephistophelean re-imagining of an evil pet, like a prop from an early David Cronenberg film.

Its size, its weight, its appearance, its texture – everything conspired against it becoming a foodstuff were it not for the good reports I’d had regarding its utter brilliance when cooked.

Although technically offal, there is no reason why tongue should provoke such revulsion. It is muscle in the same way topside or fillet steak is muscle. However, due to the amount of work it does – daily tearing kilos of fresh grass from the earth – it needs some serious cooking. To stop it from drying out it also needs brining. I gave it 5 days but if you’re tempted to try this at home (please do) I’d let it spend at least a week in the brine bucket, possibly even ten days.

To stop it being overly salty it went into fresh water for 24 hours before being slung into the stock pot along with the usual suspects – carrot, celery, onion, garlic, peppercorns and a couple of bay leafs.

Four hours at the merest quivering simmer was enough to cook it through. I’d been reliably informed (thank you once again Fergus Henderson) that tongue is easier to peel (!) when still warm. Even so, a sharp knife was necessary and the process was more of a paring than a peeling. Although not a pleasant process by the time the tough barbed outer skin was removed what sat in front of me was recognisably meat that looked at least as good as a slab of tasty salt beef.

Which is exactly what it was.

Assuming that it would be best fresh from the cooking pot and still warm, it was thinly sliced and crammed into a bagel along with a generous slick of mayonnaise, a handful of rocket and some sliced pickles. The whole lot was topped, inevitably, with the lurid yellow mustard so reminiscent of New York’s finest culinary offerings.

By now any feelings of trepidation had long since evaporated and the first bite was an adventurously large one. It was delicious. It’s as simple as that. Perhaps made even more so by the timidity with which it approached. ‘Under promise and over deliver’ seems to be the mantra of marketing. If so, tongue is the marketer’s dream. Don’t be surprised if it joins cheeks, shanks and trotters in the ‘forgotten cuts’ section of supermarket. Now that will set tongues wagging.

Thanks Alex!

Jellied Tripe

I know there is a general mistrust of tripe; interestingly enough, this dish has produced most tripe converts.  It does have a seductive nature of looking like summer on a plate, but it’s not just good looks that recommend it-it is delicious.

I had wanted to post this for Wednesday, but life got flipped-turned upside down. And I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there. I’ll tell you how a three year old kid ended up liking this dish.

First off, I gathered the required ingredients, which included Calvados.  I’d never tried, or for that matter even heard of Calvados before flipping to page 40 of “The Cookbook”.  Turns out that it’s a fancy apple brandy made in the French regions of Basse-Normandie and Lower Normandy.  Not wanting to skimp, I picked up a brand called La Captive, which features a fully grown apple in the bottle.

See?  Always wanted to own one of these, if only for the novelty.  I’m telling myself that because I’d rather not think about all the brandy that could be filling the space that the apple takes up.

Into the pot went a few pig trotters, heads of garlic, some thyme, bay leaves, two quarts(!) of apple cider and some of the aforementioned Calvados.  Up to a boil, then down to a simmer for a little over two hours.

At this point I added a whole bunch of honeycomb tripe that I had sat overnight in milk.  The soaking removes a bit of the “unique”… flavor that tripe inherently touts.  You can see that the flesh of the trotters had started to fall off the bone, and cider and brandy changed from transparent to opaque. I’m assuming the new cloudiness was due to all of the tasty fat and connective tissue incorporating itself into the liquid.

In past cooking sessions with tripe, I’ve had problems with managing to get it tender enough.  For some reason I never cook it long enough, and I wasn’t going to make that mistake this time.  Mr. Henderson states that one should be able to pinch through the flesh, so that’s what we were shooting for.  In the end the tripe cooked three hours longer than the recipe called for.

After the extended cooking time I was easily able to pinch through the squares of stomach.  For once, I was actually going to have tender tripe.  Hooray!

The recipe notified me that the tasty liquor left in the pot was in need of reduction for use later on, so everything was dumped into a colander over a bowl…

…with this being the result.  Lots of little bits of bone and other inedible things were left behind…

…so another strain was called for.  Back into the pot the liquor went for a gentle reduction.

In the meantime, I picked all–or so I thought–of the piggy bones out of the tripe/trotter flesh mixture.  Just a heads up if you try to make this recipe: triple check that all of the toe bones have been found.  I’ll explain why later on.

While I was playing the home version of Double Dare with pig bones on one side of the kitchen, at the other end I set up a pan with shallots, carrots, leeks and some garlic to sweat in duck fat until everything was nice and soft.

From there, a few canned plum tomatoes were crushed and added to the veggies.  Everything was left over heat for another 20 minutes to “sweeten the tomatoes.”  Soon after the tripe/trotter mix was incorporated along with a little of the reduced liquor and a copious amount of salt and pepper.  I fretted for about 15 minutes over the seasoning due to the fact this dish is served cold, and the flavors in turn are muted because of it.  The only fix is “over” seasoning, and I’ve not made the recipe enough to know the proper amounts of needed salt and pepper.  When all was said and done, I had used roughly twice the normal amount of both.

A loaf pan was covered with plastic wrap, and the tripe mixture was spooned in.  When the pan was full, I slowly drizzled the reduced liquid on top to fill in the empty spaces.  A quick slam against the counter ensured that all of the unwanted air was expelled.  Another sheet of plastic wrap was draped over the top of the pan and into the fridge it went over night.

The next day was pretty exciting, because I had been invited to take part in the first meeting of the Austin Adventure Eaters, hosted by the award winning and Energizer Bunny-like Jennie Chen and the Executive Chef of Kenichi in downtown Austin, Mark Strouhal.  While my new puppy sure made an impression on the attending folks, I welcomed the chance to talk to like-minded foodies and partake of their offerings.  Pig tongues preserved in bacon fat, deep fried pig ears, bacon filled pastries, and a wonderful deer heart and liver dish that defies description were just some of the dishes on hand.  I’d like to thank Jenni and John Knox for their hospitality and alcohol. I’d also like to thank Mark and another chef named Dre (I’m sorry I never caught your last name) who works at Zoot in Austin for all of the mind blowing conversation.  I could have listened for hours and hours.

Halfway through the event I started slicing the terrine for people to try.  I took a little piece myself to check the seasoning.  To my dismay, it was a little bland.  Even after doubling the seasoning and all my fretting, it wasn’t enough.  Thankfully everyone was kind in their criticisms.  Before I left, I ended up leaving huge hunks of the terrine for people to take home.  The best part?  I got a tweet from Amanda Joyner, one of the owners and chefs behind Retro Bizzaro Pastries here in Austin.  It said, “@nose2tailathome I got a croissant put the left overs I had from you on it with a little mixed greens. IT was so yummy” which prompted me to ask how the sandwich turned out.  Amanda responded with, “I loved it! The flavor was amazing not at all what I was expecting even our kids liked it :)”

Whoa.  Their kids liked it?!

I had to know more, so I asked Amanda to write a quick blurb about what happened.  She sent me this in return.  Thank you Amanda!

When you go to a dinner party and someone says “I brought some tripe!” You usually have the few people who turns and do the awkward “Oooh….How..Nice.”

I however am a firm believer in don’t knock it till you try it, my new years resolution.  After a few minutes of pushing food around on my plate I got up and grabbed myself a decent piece, closed my eyes, and…enjoyed it.

Growing up I always had this odd fear of tripe. Menudo being made was the warning bell to spend the night at someone’s house.  This however was nothing like what I was expecting.  The texture reminded me of a bread pudding, aldente even, a smooth softness with a hints of yummy goodness with a flavor I can’t even describe without saying one word…YUM.

The next day I decided to eat more of the tripe for lunch.  Toasting up a croissant, in bacon grease of course, I laid my new friend down with some spring greens and started munching away.

Now when I eat that means little warning bells go off in my sons mind and he comes to steal my lunch.  In my mind I saw him instantly disliking the sandwich and running away screaming to my husband I feed him something gross but instead…He ran off with it!  My son…likes tripe?!  Wanting to know what intrigued him so I sat down with him and asked why he liked it.  His reply “I like jello….It’s meat jello right?”

Sure tripe’s not for everyone, but as I have found it’s not about the meat, but how it’s prepared.  Try it once and if you don’t like it….well just have water near by.

So, here’s the tripe dish that a three year old liked.  I think that pretty much sums up how successful this recipe is.

Now to tie up the loose thread about the pig bones.  After taking the above picture, I dug into the slice of terrine only to crunch down on a tiny yet very hard toe bone.  Had I bitten down any harder, a visit to the dentist would have been required.  So, again I implore you: triple check that ALL of the bones are removed before you add the tripe and trotter mixture into the sweated vegetables.  I ended up checking with as many people as I could from the event that took terrine slices home, and I was the only one affected, thankfully.  Next time, I’ll triple check, just to be sure.

One down, sixty to go.