I am finding it really interesting finding out about regional recipes. Britain is a small island but the range and diversity of the dishes we have across the length and breadth of it is amazing. It is like our range of accents, unique to each region and distinctive. Even when two regions have a similar recipe, there are subtle variations that make it specific to that area. Recently I have been concentrating on dishes that are local to Newcastle and Northumberland. These often have musical names like Pan Haggerty or Singin’ Hinnies which reflect the lilting accent of the area. Whilst looking for other recipes from the region I came across a reference to Newcastle Pudding. Intrigued, I had to find out more.
NEWCASTLE PUDDING. Butter a half melon mould or quart basin, stick it all round with dried cherries or fine raisins, and fill it up with custard and layers of thin bread and butter. Boil or steam it an hour and a half.
Investigating further it seems Newcastle Pudding is also used to refer to a lemon bread and butter type pudding. I decided to try and recreate the original version as best I could, using a pudding bowl rather than a half melon mould. The result was a success, apart from the fact that I had not greased the pudding basin sufficiently. This resulted in some of the pudding sticking to the dish when I tried to turn it out giving it a slightly lopsided look. The taste was lovely though, it is a very light steamed pudding with the cherries giving it a touch of flavour. It would be lovely served with cream, or custard.
I imagine that if the cherries had been embedded properly in the top of the pudding it would also make a great centrepiece pudding for a special occasion. It is a perfect pudding for Spring days when the sun is out but the air is still cold. It warms you up without feeling too stodgy. It is almost similar in texture to St. Stephens Pudding, another steamed pudding this time with an apple base.
I must admit to being quite pleased that Newcastle has it’s own pudding and a very tasty one at that. I will definitely be trying this one again soon, taking more care to grease the pudding basin properly beforehand.