Bowls against the cold

Lin­ing the stom­ach against the cold is the old­est pre­scrip­tion there is, and noth­ing does it bet­ter than some­thing steamed. This bri­gade pud, with its hearty suet cas­ing, is an ex­cel­lent op­tion

The Guardian - Cook - - King Of Puddings - Jeremy Lee Jeremy Lee is the chef­pro­pri­etor of Quo Vadis res­tau­rant in Lon­don; @jere­myleeqv

Ap­ples! So many ap­ples. What to do with them all? What next can a canny cook do with an over­whelm­ing har­vest of as many va­ri­eties of this fruit as there are now leaves fall­ing from the trees?

Ap­ple tarts and ap­ple pies – ap­ple strudel, too, for sure. But there are also suet pud­dings – a very good one be­ing a bri­gade pud­ding, which is stuffed with ap­ples, sweet­ened with spices and mus­co­v­ado sugar, and at­tended to with much cus­tard.

The bri­gade pud­ding has its ori­gins in feed­ing the troops when it was fi­nally recog­nised (as it seemed to have taken a while for the penny to drop) that an army marches on its stom­ach. And if the vict­uals were not up to snuff, then moods grum­bled louder than hun­gry tum­mies.

But let us leave those that fol­low the drum to their busi­ness and turn in­stead to mat­ters more do­mes­tic. There is a pleas­ing prospect to be­ing cosy in the kitchen while an au­tumn wind lifts the myr­iad leaves out­side, ev­ery shade of fad­ing green and red swirling in the cooling brisk­ness of short­en­ing days.

Lin­ing the stom­ach against the cold is the old­est pre­scrip­tion there is. Go­ing to a school in a city that sat on an es­tu­ary that flowed into the North Sea meant fac­ing east­erly gales that froze the blood through­out the bit­ter winters – but it also finely honed an all-too-healthy ap­petite for a steady­ing pud­ding.

Now, my grand­mother fed me lunch all through se­nior school in Dundee. It did much to my waist­line and lit­tle for my af­ter­noon at­ten­tion span af­ter re­turn­ing from lunch at Granny’s very well fed in­deed. I may have con­sumed the calo­ries re­quired for mil­i­tary ma­noeu­vres, but I very rarely in­dulged in any ex­er­cise with even re­motely the same en­thu­si­asm I had for eat­ing.

On ar­rival at Granny’s Dundee ten­e­ment, I was greeted to the rich savour of a pan of len­til soup sim­mer­ing on the stove in her tiny scullery. An­other pan, tightly sealed, sat be­yond the soup and within was the cheeri­est prospect: a suet pud­ding. A mighty weapon against the win­ter’s gloom. Bri­gade pud­ding Serves 4 For the pas­try 225g self-rais­ing flour, sifted A pinch of salt

60g suet

60g cold, hard but­ter, plus more for greas­ing

A spoon­ful or two of milk

For fill­ing the lay­ers The zest and juice of two lemons 5 well-sized crisp ap­ples 30ml trea­cle 180g dark mus­cav­ado sugar 100g sul­tanas 100g raisins 50g ground al­monds 30ml dark rum 1 heaped tsp ground gin­ger ½ a nut­meg, finely grated 1 heaped tsp ground mace 1 heaped tsp ground cin­na­mon 1 tsp vanilla ex­tract

1 Lightly rub a lit­tle but­ter over the in­side of a pud­ding basin and lay a disc of grease­proof pa­per cut to fit the bot­tom of it.

2 Set a large bowl upon a ta­ble. Tip in the sifted flour, add in the pinch of salt and the suet. Grate the but­ter into the flour, then add in the milk. With swift, deft moves, bring all this to­gether to form a dough shaped into a ball. Re­move the dough from the bowl and knead lightly.

3 The dough needs to be cut into three pieces – one small enough that, when rolled the thick­ness of a pinkie, it will sit com­fort­ably on the bot­tom of the lined pud­ding basin. The sec­ond piece will al­low for a disc of dough, also a pinkie deep, to sit in the mid­dle of the pud­ding. Last, you should be left with enough for a larger disc the full di­am­e­ter of the basin to com­plete the struc­ture.

4 Zest the two lemons and set the zest aside. Pour their juice into a large bowl, then peel the ap­ples and roll each one in the lemon juice. Quar­ter each peeled ap­ple, then re­move the core and the pips and slice thinly – say three or four slices. Toss the slices of ap­ple in the lemon juice.

East­erly gales froze the blood but finely honed an all­too-healthy ap­petite for a steady­ing pud­ding

5 Add the re­main­ing in­gre­di­ents and mix to­gether well. Spread one third of the ap­ple mix­ture on the bot­tom disc of dough. Lay the sec­ond disc of dough upon this, then heap in the re­main­ing ap­ple. Spread evenly, then lay on the fi­nal disc of suet pas­try.

6 Lay a disc of grease­proof pa­per on top of the fi­nal disc of dough. Seal the pud­ding basin with a tight-fit­ting lid, or tin foil scrunched tightly, or discs of grease­proof pa­per se­cured tightly be­neath muslin with string. Place the basin on an up­turned plate in a pan of sim­mer­ing wa­ter that comes one third the way up the pud­ding basin. Seal the pan with a tight-fit­ting lid and let it steam for 3 hours.

7 Let the pud­ding stand for at least half an hour be­fore un­mould­ing. Un­mould it on to a hand­some dish. De­cant a great pan of cus­tard into a jug and serve.

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