gingerbread pudding with almond cream sauce.

gingerbread pudding with almond cream sauce.

A couple of weeks ago, Kenan and I were over at Boots and Coach’s place, enjoying a nice dinner. Afterward, while we were digesting and enjoying some quality bonding time with the sofa, I started leafing through a few cookbooks I had brought over to plan for my next baking adventure. Looking over my shoulder, Boots noticed a recipe for steamed gingerbread pudding and asked, coyly, if I could make something similar for her half-birthday, which fell the following week. I said yes whole-heartedly. I mean, I probably hadn’t heard anybody mention half-birthdays since middle school, but I find something charming about the idea that people in their mid-twenties can still get excited about (and celebrate, and bake for) un-birthdays. So we set the (half-)birthday celebration for last Friday, and I started researching.

cake or pudding?


So first of all, let’s clarify that steamed pudding is not what Americans generally think of as pudding: in Britain, steamed, boiled and baked puddings generally refer to a cakey type of dessert, rather than something custardy or otherwise milk-based. So when you hear someone refer to a steamed pudding, think cake, not cream. Steamed puddings are made from a thin batter which is placed in a sealed container (or a pan covered tightly with foil) and then either baked in a water bath or boiled on the stovetop in a large pot with a steamer rack, depending on the technique. The moisture from the water allows the pudding to stay incredibly moist while at the same time baking up to a nice, fluffy consistency. I’d never done one of these guys before, so I was excited to give them a try. I’d also been thinking for a while about doing something cozy and specifically wintry, and gingerbread definitely fits that bill.

My problem with most ginger-based desserts, however, is that they’re a bit lackluster: sweet, not quite spicy enough and seemingly lacking anything substantial to say for themselves. I like ginger things with a nice little bite to them. I’m not talking about something so kicky it’ll knock your socks off, but I want a little bit of heat: a reminder that I’m eating something with an actual spice in it. Armed with those considerations, I set off to look for an appropriate recipe. And really, I wasn’t quite satisfied with anything I found. Each recipe was either too bland, or too full of weird ingredients, or otherwise not so awesome. But I found one that seemed decent, so I decided to go with it, though I ended up using it as more of a general guide than a specific recipe.

ginger up


On the night of the celebration, Kenan and I headed downstairs to Boots and Coach’s place (they’ve moved into our building; this becomes relevant later on). Boots was making pizza for dinner, so both of us got started on our respective tasks. But as I went to preheat the oven, I realized that Boots was going to have to use said oven for pizza, which would preclude my using it for gingerbread. So I went upstairs and preheated our oven, hoping that I wouldn’t spill the cake all over the stairs when I took it up to bake it or, you know, burn our apartment down. Then, back downstairs, I got started on mixing up the pudding. First, I melted some butter and set it aside to chill out. Next it was time to mix together the dry ingredients: some flour, baking soda, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and, of course, ginger. I whisked three eggs with some brown sugar and then the melted better until the stuff got light and fluffy. Then I mixed some blackstrap molasses (yum!) with honey, hot water, and some very finely chopped fresh ginger. Then I mixed everything together, alternating dry and wet ingredients, and voila! The thing was ready to steam. I hauled the pan upstairs, placed it in a water bath, covered everything with foil, and popped it in the oven for about 40 minutes. And when it came out, oh man, it was fluffy and a nice dark brown and smelled like everything that’s amazing about winter. Now it was time to let the cake cool off a bit and prepare the sauce.

I had elaborate plans for the sauce to go with this cake: I wanted to do something with chestnuts, and I was really interested in making a nice caramel sauce and then mixing in some candied ginger or lemon zest. But this time, owing to laziness and a dearth of the appropriate ingredients, I kept things simple, hoping that the spices in the cake would shine through. I heated up some heavy cream on the stove, whisked it a bit, stirred in a little brown sugar, and finally added some almond butter. I cooked it down for a few minutes, and it was ready to go. And the combination of the sauce and the cake was delicious, and spicy, and creamy, and rich as hell, just as such things should be. There was some debate about what should be the proper ratio of sauce to cake (Coach n’ Boots wanted the whole slice dipped in the sauce and then slathered with more; Kenan preferred a less saucy gingerbread), but everyone agreed that the pair went together splendidly. Certainly a perfect thing for a wintry evening, and for a celebration.

gingerbread puddin’.


steamed gingerbread pudding with almond cream sauce.
(adapted, heavily, from Quivey’s Grove)

unsalted butter, melted 1/2 cup (1 stick)
dark brown sugar 1/4 cup
granulated sugar 1/4 cup
large eggs 2
molasses 3/4 cup
honey 1/4 cup

hot water 1 cup, plus enough for a water bath
fresh ginger, peeled and diced very fine 1 teaspoon
all-purpose flour 2 1/2 cups
baking soda 1 1/2 teaspoons
ground ginger 1 1/4 teaspoons
ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon
ground cloves 1/4 teaspoon
ground nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon
salt 1/2 teaspoon
almond cream sauce.
heavy cream 1 1/2 cups
brown sugar 2 tablespoons (or more to taste)
almond butter 3 tablespoons
bourbon (optional) 1 tablespoon

for the pudding: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and set a rack in the center. Grease an 8 inch by 8 inch cake pan and set aside. Put a teakettle on to simmer.

In a small saucepot over low heat, melt the butter and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until fluffy. Add the butter and whisk to combine. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, spices and salt and set aside. In a second medium mixing bowl, mix together the honey, molasses, and hot water. Add one third of the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and mix very lightly, and then add one third of the honey mixture and mix very lightly. Repeat with the remaining dry and wet ingredients, alternating. Mix just to combine; it is okay if the mixture is lumpy.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Place the pan in a large roasting pan and fill with boiling water until the liquid reaches halfway up the sides of the pan. Place in the oven and bake, covered, for 45 minutes to an hour, until the pudding springs back when touched lightly but is still moist.

for the sauce: In a medium saucepan, warm the cream over medium-low heat until it comes to just under a boil (you don’t want a full boil; you will just start to see tiny bubbles form around the edge of the pan). Reduce the heat to low and whisk until the cream starts to thicken a bit, 1-2 minutes. Add the brown sugar and continue to whisk over low heat. Add the almond butter and the bourbon, if using, and whisk until the almond butter is fully incorporated. Maintain at low heat, mixing occasionally, until the mixture has thickened a bit, being careful not to scald the cream. Remove from heat and serve on top of cake.


pictures by the astonishingly cute Kenan.
fancy camera and lenses furnished by SMASH Camera.

gingerbread pudding with almond cream sauce.gingerbread pudding with almond cream sauce.gingerbread pudding with almond cream sauce.gingerbread pudding with almond cream sauce.gingerbread pudding with almond cream sauce.gingerbread pudding with almond cream sauce.gingerbread pudding with almond cream sauce.gingerbread pudding with almond cream sauce.gingerbread pudding with almond cream sauce.gingerbread pudding with almond cream sauce.gingerbread pudding with almond cream sauce.gingerbread pudding with almond cream sauce.gingerbread pudding with almond cream sauce.gingerbread pudding with almond cream sauce.gingerbread pudding with almond cream sauce.

leave a note