Full Steam Ahead

Traditional steamed English puddings can be made with tools already in your kitchen

Illustration by Beppe Giacobbe

Around the holidays, English desserts known as steamed puddings, a category that includes currant-laden spotted dick (see "Old School"), are prepared from a thick, cakelike batter made with beef suet, a firm fat from around the cow's kidneys that lends tenderness to the treat. The batter is poured into a covered pan and gently cooked in a water bath on the stovetop. Traditional lidded pudding tins, decoratively molded out of aluminum, can be found in specialty shops, but we learned that a plain ceramic ramekin produces just as good a pudding. The key is to cover the ramekin with a piece of parchment paper that hangs slightly over its edges so it can be tied tightly around the dish with kitchen twine.