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Steamed Date with Vanilla Custard Pudding

Serves 6 +
Prep time: 30 - 60 mins
Cooking time: 1 - 1½ hrs

Images from The Great New Zealand Baking Book copyright © Lottie Hedley



  • Pams butter, for greasing
  • 120 g Pams self-raising flour
  • pinch of Pams salt
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • 90 g unsalted butter
  • 30 g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 3 tbsp Pams soft brown sugar
  • 170 g fresh dates, pitted and chopped
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 medium-sized (size 6) free-range eggs
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2 tbsp Pams milk, at room temperature
  • 300 ml Pams whole milk
  • ½ vanilla pod
  • 3 medium-sized (size 6) free-range egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 level tsp arrowroot
  • 2 tbsp Pams caster sugar
  • extra Pams caster sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
View the method
  1. Before starting, ensure that butter, eggs and milk are at room temperature.
  2. Grease a 5-cup (1¼-litre) china pudding basin with butter. Prepare paper covering by folding a large piece of greaseproof paper in half and making a 2 cm pleat at the folded edge.
  3. Open paper out and grease it with butter, then fold pleat back in, with the rest of the paper lying open like a book.
  4. Sift flour, salt and mixed spice into a bowl. Roughly chop butter and rub into dry ingredients with two round-bladed knives or a pastry blender, then stir in breadcrumbs, sugar, dates and lemon zest.
  5. Whisk eggs with golden syrup and milk, then tip into the other ingredients. Mix with a wooden spoon until smooth.
  6. Turn mixture into buttered basin, then cover with paper butter-side down and tie securely with string.
  7. Transfer pudding to a large, deep (rather than wide) saucepan, putting a trivet or a small, clean cloth under the basin to stop it clattering during cooking.
  8. Fill pan with hot water to come about one-third of the way up the basin, and cover with a tight-fitting lid.
  9. Bring water to the boil, then turn heat to the lowest setting and gently steam pudding for 1½ hours. Top up with boiling water from a kettle if water runs low.
  10. When ready, remove pudding basin from pan, snip off string and remove paper. Cover basin with a serving plate, invert and leave for 10 minutes to drop, then remove basin.
  11. For the custard, put milk in a small saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla pod and add the pod, too. Heat gently until warm (not hot), then remove from heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.
  12. Beat egg yolks, arrowroot and sugar together in a small bowl with a wooden spoon for 2–3 minutes until creamy and smooth. Blend in milk.
  13. Clean the saucepan, then return mixture to pan over a low-to-medium heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until custard thickens and coats the back of the spoon. On no account let it reach boiling point, or it will curdle.
  14. Remove vanilla pod (it can be washed, dried and reused), then pour custard into a bowl. Serve hot, or sprinkle with caster sugar and cool, then cover and refrigerate.
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