One of the wonderful things about living in Cape Town was the mix of cultures - Xhosa, Zulu, Portuguese, Dutch, British, Indian, Indonesian plus numerous others that you get from a country situated at the bottom of Africa and on the route between Europe and Asia. You can only imagine the variety of food. (an aside - if you can swing it, live overseas for a while. It is sooo worth it. I'll take experiences over things any day).
Although Canada has a large British and French influence, as a first generation Canadian I grew up mostly amongst Eastern Europeans. For me pudding meant something sweet and saucy, not the British more general definition that means any dessert.
I didn't experience British steamed pudding until I lived in Cape Town.
Being a working class kid, we saved money by cooking what we grew in the garden long before it was fashionable to do so and long before anyone coined the term "organic".
One of the first things we picked each spring was rhubarb.
If it's spring, it's rhubarb. And here was my chance to marry my scrappy Eastern European roots with some British steamed pudding. Well, not exactly a steamed pudding but a baked rhubarb pudding.
When buying rhubarb at the farmers' market, pick the tender, smaller, firm, intensely colored stalks. Once they grow larger they tend to get stringy and less sweet.
I used Cara Cara oranges for the zest and juice in the recipe. I'm in love with Cara Cara oranges. Don't have any? Valencia will do quite fine.
This pudding is "self saucing" which means that there'll be a sponge cake part and a saucy, custardy rhubarb part underneath.
This is spring comfort food at its finest. It didn't last long!
Rhubarb Self-saucing Pudding (adapted from here)
(print recipe here)
5 tbsp unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the baking dish
4 c. trimmed rhubarb, cut into 1" pieces
juice and finely grated zest of 2 oranges
1 c. sugar
3 medium eggs, separated
2/3 c. self-raising flour
1 c. less 2 tbsp milk (ideally full fat)
1 Set the oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 2-litre ovenproof dish (8"x8")
2 Place the rhubarb in a heavy pan with the orange juice and 3 tbsp of the sugar. Stir and simmer gently for 5–10 minutes until the fruit is partly cooked but still holds some shape, and has released lots of juice. Place a sieve or colander over a large jug. Pour in the rhubarb and juices and set aside to cool.
3 Beat together the butter, the remaining sugar and the orange zest. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating after each. Gradually mix in the flour, 3/4 c. of the reserved rhubarb juices and the milk, alternating each one and mixing well after each addition. Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks and fold into the batter.
4 Spread the rhubarb into the base of the prepared dish and spoon the batter on top. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the top is firm and golden. Leave to settle for 10 minutes, then serve immediately with cold cream or ice cream.