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Sticky ginger pudding

8 October 2005

There must, I suppose, be people who would confront a sudden career-crisis by pitching full-force into the work that will - presumably, eventually - lift them out of crisis again. When the going gets tough, etc. But where the tough get going, I go shopping, or go to the pub; or in this instance, I clean the house and cook and have people round for dinner and try not to think about it.

Dinner was a Moroccan lamb-and-veg-and-pulses soup called harira, a South African chicken biryani, and exceedingly English sticky ginger pudding. This last was the best of them, I think (but then, I have been called the Queen of Puddings - which for foreign visitors should be explained as an English pudding in itself, made with breadcrumbs and eggs and jam and meringue and such - but then, if you have to explain it, it isnít funny). It started as a recipe in a magazine, but I think Iíve done enough to it - deliberately, lazily and by accident - to remake it here. This is my version, then:

Tip a 350-gram jar of stem ginger and its syrup into a food processor, and blitz till it's chopped fine. You donít want a purée.

Put half of this into a pan with 75g of dark muscovado sugar, the same of butter and 200ml of cream - double or whipping, either is fine.

Sift 175g of plain flour into a bowl with half a teaspoon each of ground ginger, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Add a couple of eggs, 75g of softened butter and 100g of dark muscovado. Mix two tablespoons of molasses sugar with one of cream and add that. Whisk till it's all incorporated.

At this point, you can set everything aside and pay attention to the starter, the main course, the cat or your guests. Come back to it when they're picking the bones out of their teeth, wiping their fingers on your tablecloth and starting to slur; they wonít even notice you've gone.

Butter a six-hole non-stick giant muffin tray, and heat the oven to gas mark 6 or thereabouts, with a baking tray on the middle shelf. I should say at this point that the original recipe said gas mark 4, but I always pre-heat a mark or two higher, because it loses heat when you open the door to slide the food in. The plan then is to knock it back to the heat desired, but sometimes I forget. This time was one of those, but it worked perfectly at the higher heat for the original timing; could be a case of variation from one oven to another, perhaps from professional to domestic, but whatever, this works for me.

Add 150ml of warm water and the rest of the blitzed ginger to the mixture, whisk it all together and spoon into the muffin tray. Slide that onto the hot baking tray in the oven, and leave for twenty minutes (well, look at it after fifteen, if youíre me, and turn it round if your oven heats unevenly; by now they should be nicely risen little puddings, and don't worry, they won't sink). Meanwhile, set the pan with the sauce ingredients onto a low heat and stir occasionally. Don't boil it, there's no need.

Turn the puddings out onto plates when done, pour the sauce over and serve with cream. Scrummy.

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© Chaz Brenchley 2005
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.