(In the spirit of) Daring Bakers April: Pudding

I constantly rave about how being a Daring Kitchen member lets you try out things you would never have done before. Maybe that is especially true for this month's challenge.
The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.
Suet, I learned through this challenge, is a hard, but flaky fat found in the area around the kidneys of a cow or sheep. I've never seen it anywhere here in Sweden, or even heard about it, but I'm sure it would be possible to get some, given you had the time to shop around. We didn't. The challenge said it could be substituted with hard, white vegetable fat or shortening. I'm sure we could have found something suitable, given we had the time to do some research. We didn't. Instead, we went outside the box, and inside the bone.

We made marrow pudding!

We figured this would count as being “in the spirit of the challenge” – it is a British pudding, made with a somewhat unusual animal product. The only thing that doesn't meet the requirements is that it's baked, not steamed.

The recipe comes from our dessert guru Jan Hedh. I've looked at the picture of the English marrow pudding in his book Deserter many times and thought that “hey, that looks good, but I'll never make it”. Well thanks to the Daring Bakers, we have! And it tasted lovely!

Esther, sorry for not making your challenge recipe, but thank you for giving us this opportunity to try something completely new!

Jan Hedh's English marrow pudding
from the book Desserter

8-10 portions (we halved the recipe)

200 g ox marrow
1½ dl cream
200 g eggs (about 4)
80 g sugar
10 g vanilla sugar
2 ml salt
200 g white bread, crust removed
200 g corinths
4 tbsp dark rum
Butter and sugar for the pan
4 tbsp dark rum for flambéeing
Caramel sauce for serving (recipe below)

Day 1:
Soak the marrow in cold water overnight. Change the water a few times.
Mix cream, eggs. sugar, vanilla sugar and salt. Pour the mixture over the bread. Let it stand overnight to swell.
Soak the corinths in the rum overnight.

It's hard to believe that this soaking goo can turn out so delicious! Thankfully, Sweden is a BSE-free zone, otherwise we wouldn't dare to eat this stuff cooked or not.

Day 2:
Set the oven to 175°C.
Drain the marrow and chop it finely. Mix with the bread mixture and the rum-soaked corinths. Use your hands to combine everything well.
Coat an ovenproof dish (about 1½ liters), preferably one with a lid, with the butter and sugar. Place the pudding mix in the dish and cover with wax paper, cut out to fit the dish. Cover with a lid or with aluminum foil.
Bake for one hour.
Remove from the oven and let the pudding rest for 30 minutes.
Remove it from the pan and place on a heat proof dish.
Heat the rum carefully and pour it over the pudding. Set on fire (be careful, of course!), and serve the pudding in flames together with a caramel sauce.

Fresh out of the oven

Caramel sauce
120 g sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
3 dl cream

Boil sugar and lemon juice, stirring constantly until you have a light brown caramel.
Add the cream, a little at the time, and boil until the caramel is dissolved.
The sauce will keep about 5 days in the fridge.

Marrow pudding flaming in the spirit of Captain Morgan ('s dark rum). Flambeing can really bring out a lot of different colors!


Letting him eat cake

People who know me knows that I like crazy projects and out-there ideas. In the kitchen this takes the form of plans for elaborate 12 course tasting menus (not realized yet, but one day. One day with a lot of time and patience), weird flavor-combos, or, as today, complicated birthday cakes.

Markus is turning 30-something today, and as is tradition in our household, that means I'm making him a birthday cake. Last year I made an elaborate Jan Hedh chocolate creation, and I didn't want to make anything less this year. When I came across this post at Confections of a (Closet) Master Baker, I knew I just had to do it. Quoting Gesine:
It’s a lot of work. It takes more time then you really want to invest. It’s messy. But it’s beautiful.
A lot of work, a lot of time, making a mess. Topped with beauty. It's a done deal!

Writing backwards to create decor sides.

I gave the cake an almond bottom, filled it with vanilla-lemon quark mousse and garnished with peaches (canned, cause it's that time of the year), raspberries and passion fruit. For the quark mousse I used a Swedish quark product called Kesella Vanilj, which is flavored with vanilla. You could use regular quark and add vanilla extract or vanilla sugar. I miscalculated the amount of mousse so I didn't get enough to fill up the sides of the cake. You probably want to double the mousse recipe, or else make shorter decor sides.

The decor sides do take time to make, but I didn't find them that difficult. I wrote "GRATTIS MARKUS" (congratulations Markus) in block letters. The Markus part turned out beautiful, but "grattis" had some floating out, I don't know why that was but I guess I wasn't careful enough when spreading the jaconde sponge batter over the frozen tuille.

Good lettering.

Bad lettering. IS is fine, but what happened to the rest?

The cake tasted heavenly, and was easy to cut into clean, nice slices. And Markus was mighty impressed - mission accomplished!

The writing's on the cake

1 batch decor sides, follow the instructions here

For the almond cake bottom:
300 g almond paste
2 eggs

Grate the almond paste. Mix well with the eggs, and spread the batter out into a buttered and breaded springform pan, about 23 cm in diameter. Bake at 175°C for 20 minutes. Let the cake cool before removing the springform pan.

For the vanilla-citrus quark mousse
1 1/4 dl milk
1 dl granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 egg yolks
250 g vanilla-flavoured quark (Kesella Vanilj)
1½ dl cream
4 sheets gelatin

Bring the milk, sugar, salt and lemon zest to a boil in a saucepan.
Place the egg yolks in a bowl and mix them well with some of the warm milk mixture. Add the rest of the milk, stir well, and pour back into the saucepan. Over medium heat, whisk the mixture constantly until it thickens. Pour it into a cold bowl and let it cool completely.
Add the quark.
Soak the gelatin sheets for five minutes in cold water. Squeeze out excess water and melt them over low heat in a small saucepan. Mix with a little of the egg-milk mixture, and stir the gelatin into the rest of the mixture.
Whip the cream into stiff peaks and fold it in.

Assembling the cake:
Get the almond bottom and attach the springform ring around it again. Get your decor sides and trim them to the correct height and length. Place them around the cake ring, writing side out of course. Pour the mousse onto (into?) the cake. Let it set in the fridge for at least two hours before decorating the cake with the fruits and berries of your choice.


Shrimp cocktail, Thai style

This was the starter for our Good Friday dinner (us secularized Swedes don't mind indulging on that day. Either.). A huge bunch of salad in our organic fruit and vegetable box, some shrimp in the freezer, the need for something fresh and savory with a punch, and the idea of a Thai style shrimp cocktail was born. To be honest, the original idea was to make fresh spring rolls but with salad leafs instead of rice paper wrappers, but the salad didn't want to roll up neatly so we ended up with something that looked more like burritos. To keep them from unrolling we served them standing up in shot glasses, and then I realized that hey, this is more of a shrimp cocktail than a spring roll.
Whatever it is, it's delicious and was a perfect start for our dinner. It was followed by a Tunisian lamb tagine with apricots and almonds (we've blogged about it here although this time we made a slightly different version) and for dessert an assortment of cheeses (Beaufort, Manchego, a fantastic unpasteurized Brie, and an anonymous but delicious blue cheese of French origin) accompanied by an amazing port.
I don't have any measurements in the recipe, just eyeball it. The Prik Nam Pla, or dipping sauce, is the most important part of this dish, so don't get scared off by the fish sauce and skip it!

In a bowl, mix shrimp (we used frozen and thawed, but fresh is of course better), some julienned carrot, de-seeded cucumber in thin slices, julienned papaya, fresh cilantro and white sesame seeds. Place a spoonful on a salad leaf and roll it up in a fashion that works for you.
Serve with the dipping sauce.

Prik Nam Pla - Thai dipping sauce

2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp demerara sugar
½ red chili, finely chopped
2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped

Mix all the ingredients and let it stand for a while. Taste before serving if you want to add more lime juice. We ended up doubling the amount of lime juice, but that was a tad too much. Wait until the sauce has been standing for a while before tasting it, because the flavors mature and if it's too "fishy" when it's just been made, it might be perfect 20 minutes later.