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Traditional boiled puddings (especially Christmas) - converting recipes to pressure cooker?

 
r ranson
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I love an old fashioned English Boiled Pudding.  Be it Christmas Plum pudding, boiled bread pudding (so much better than oven stuff they make these days), or... well, Mrs Beeton alone must have over 50 recipes for boiled puddings - not to mention boiled goodies like apple dumplings which is basically a whole apple, cored and peeled, rolled in sugar and spice, pack the middle with butter, and wrap in a pie crust.  Wrap in a cloth and boil for 4-6 hours.  

What I hate about boiled puddings is that they take anywhere from 1 to 8 hours of boiling to cook.  Topping up the water every half hour.  Wiping the excessive steam off the windows, while the neighbours snicker.  

If only there was a better way?  
looks at pressure cooker... hang on, maybe there is?

Does anyone know the conversion for...
... how long in the pressure cooker on high for each hour of regular boiling?
... increasing the leavening agent (I'm at sea level) - although Mrs B doesn't usually use it as it wasn't much of a thing, later recipes do.  
... anything else I should consider?  

 
Sebastian Köln
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I know little about boiled puddings, or even using pressure cookers.

A rule of thumb in chemistry is that reaction speeds double for every 10 degree Celsius temperature increase.

A copycat from wikipedia:
Gauge PressureTemperatureAppr. Cooking time
0 bar (0 psi)100 °C (212 °F)100%
0.1 bar (1.5 psi)103 °C (217 °F)80%
0.2 bar (2.9 psi)105 °C (221 °F)70%
0.3 bar (4.4 psi)107 °C (225 °F)61%
0.4 bar (5.8 psi)110 °C (230 °F)50%
0.5 bar (7.3 psi)112 °C (234 °F)43%
0.6 bar (8.7 psi)114 °C (237 °F)38%
0.7 bar (10 psi)116 °C (241 °F)33%
0.8 bar (12 psi)117 °C (243 °F)31%
0.9 bar (13 psi)119 °C (246 °F)27%
1.0 bar (15 psi)121 °C (250 °F)25%
 
Skandi Rogers
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We normally use a microwave a 4hr pudding takes 30minutes in a microwave.
you shouldn't need to top up water when boiling a pudding though use a lid, and only simmer the water.
you will also find that most puddings don't actually need such long cooking times.

as for raising agent, most of the UK that is inhabited is within a few 100m of sea level so recipes should be fine for you.
 
Anne Miller
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I have a Presto Pressure Cooker Cookbook from 1975.

It says

steamed breads and puddings require a steaming period for leavening action before placing the Pressure Regulator on the vent pipe



Allow a gentle flow of steam to emerge from the vent pipe for the length specified in the recipe, then place Pressure Regulator on the vent pipe and cook according to directions.



The Bread Pudding recipe says to allow 5 minutes then place Pressure Regulator on vent pipe and cook 15 minutes. Let pressure release drop of its own accord.
 
r ranson
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This might be a simple one to start with

https://www.biggerbolderbaking.com/steamed-marmalade-pudding/#marmpudding

It will either need more rising agents or pre-steaming.  But first,  we need to finish the results of yesterday's baking.
 
r ranson
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https://www.hippressurecooking.com/baking-powder-pcs/

I'm starting at sea level,  so that what my pre pressure recipes use.  It will need to convert to pressure,  which judging from my results,  most online pressure cooker baking recipes don't.
 
Carla Burke
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They look YUMMY!!
 
r ranson
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Skandi Rogers wrote:We normally use a microwave a 4hr pudding takes 30minutes in a microwave.
you shouldn't need to top up water when boiling a pudding though use a lid, and only simmer the water.
you will also find that most puddings don't actually need such long cooking times.

as for raising agent, most of the UK that is inhabited is within a few 100m of sea level so recipes should be fine for you.



I don't have a microwave.

Most steamed puddings want to be kept at a strong simmer when cooked stovetop, but boiled puddings really do better at a full rolling boil.  Either way, with a high humidity in my atmosphere, cold air outside and warm air inside, and at the time living in a small apartment...
These puddings are adapted from times when most houses didn't have ovens in England, so the food was either roasted or boiled in one big pot.  As things were being added and taken away, the pot was kept at a full boil as much as possible to prevent the water from cooling down too much with new additions.  This was before cast iron and the technology to make stoves.  As the technology changed, so too did the way of making puddings in England to what people know today.

Pre-industrial puddings in England were mostly savoury (a great way to cook meat) until the 1800s, thus the long cooking time.  I do like to cook a suet pudding longer than a butter-based one.  Most of what I'm cooking are pre-industrial recipes, not modern ones, although I want to try those in the pressure cooker too.


Being at sea level shows what my base (cooking stovetop) leavening agent is.  But if I use this under pressure, then the pudding won't rise (if it is a recipe that rises).  Whereas someone who lives at altitude would use considerably less leavening agent so they would have to increase it quite a bit more for pressure cooking.  
 
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r ranson wrote:

Puddings in England were mostly savoury (a great way to cook meat) until the 1800s, thus the long cooking time.  I do like to cook a suet pudding longer than a butter-based one.  



I grew up in England on steamed puddings and they were all simmered never boiled. we didn't put the meat into the pudding uncooked though it went in cooked which also really reduces the time and makes a nicer (in my opinion) sauce.
 
r ranson
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Steamed and boiled puddings changed dramatically when people started cooking on a wood or coal-fired range.  

The history of the boiled pudding is fascinating.  I would probably put Mrs Beeton as the turning point of traditional vs modern puddings,  as her book includes some medieval methods,  but also has the modern technology.  

I first came to boiled puddings while researching and reproducing medieval recipes.  This was a time when there was one metal cookpot for boiling and most of the other pots were pottery.  It's possible but not easy to brown meat in a pottery fry pan as uneven heat can cause the pan to shatter/crack and then it's more washing up to do.  Water was not an easy ingredient to get, so limiting the washing up was a big part.  Traditional (aka, pre stove) methods for cooking puddings are very different from what we find in Living Memory.

Anyway, that's a topic for another thread.

This isn't solving the challenge of converting recipes to work in the pressure cooker.  Did you have a  recipe that might be worth trying?
 
r ranson
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A lot of the difference in time is the size as well.  In modern days, it's assumed that one is cooking for 8 or fewer people.  The traditional puddings would be for a dozen or more people to eat over several meals.  Puddings were a way of keeping meat safe to eat for several days without a fridge.  The ingredients aren't measured in cups or oz, they are measured in pounds.  Here's an example of a christmas pudding that includes a pound of suit, pound of raisins, 8 eggs, pound of flour, a pint of milk ... and some other stuff.  That makes nearly a 5-pound pudding and boils for at least 5 hours over a flame.  Note how he's keeping the water boiling the whole time.  



Another factor that influences cooking time is the pudding basin.  The one I use adds an hour to the time compared to wrapping the pudding in a cloth, as the dish too has to heat up.

I'm looking forward to making a Christmas pudding again this year.  I love how little time and electricity the pressure cooker takes to cook.
 
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Not too much different than my daily bread. I make my flour from whole seeds except the oats are rolled or cracked to remove the hulls. I combine an one that is dusty when ground with one that is oily. A scoop of rice a large pinch of coconut flakes and a piece of nutmeg aground in a coffee mill. next a scoop of oats with chia seeds and salt. then a scoop of millet  with pumpkin seeds and cinnamon. last a scoop of lentils with flax seed and turmeric. add chopped  candied ginger and a variety of dried fruit from the farm, plums, small peaches, grapes, apples. this all goes into a stainless bowl that fits close in a pot that leave 2 inches of water under and around the bottom of the bowel. set the bole in the pot over the boiling water which has heated up while preparing the ingredients and stir in cold water until I have a batter. then stir in a tablespoon of coconut oil because I don't have any suit or lard. The dried fruit spokes up a lot of the moisture so it comes out of the bowel much like in the video after it has simmered for 2 or more hours on the lowest setting. Starting it when I make my morning smoothie It may simmer for 4 hours and be a little dryer. I can eat it out of the bowl with a spoon or dump it out on a plate and slice it to spread sour cream or cream cheese or nut butter on it. I suppose if I wanted to serve it as a fancy desert I could flame it with some of my vodka extract of blackcaps.
 
r ranson
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Here's another option https://www.hippressurecooking.com/easy-christmas-pudding/

Looking at these recipes, they don't seem to be the same as our family traditional recipe, but I think I can see enough to alter it to fit in the pressure cooker.

2-3 times the levelling agent
15 min steam
45 min pressure cook on high, slow release.  

I might need to cook it longer to get the full 8-hour effect, but it's a place to start.

One thing that worries me is that many recipes don't wrap the pudding.  When boiling, we usually tie a cloth to the top of the basin - or wrap the pudding entirely in a cloth.  The cloth limits how much the pudding can rise and this affects the texture (in a good way) of the finished pudding.  

It also regulates the moisture that gets in the pudding.  That's very important as the pudding usually ages for a month or two before being served.

I suppose in the pressure cooker, I need to be careful about the ceramic vessel, so I'm thinking I'll use the parchment paper with a pleat method.  I'll also put the pudding basin up on a rack instead of using a foil sling and putting it on the bottom like a lot of recipes do.  
 
r ranson
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Here is some more tips and tricks

 
r ranson
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It has been a LOT of fun learning about this pudding.

Pre-refrigeration, it would be made in November and stored at room temperature - often hanging from a ceiling beam - for between 1 and 11 months.  Then reboiled for a couple of hours before serving.   It was eaten year 'round, often once a month.  But it seems to have a close association with Christmas even before Dickens wrote about it.

Adding alcohol to the pudding to help it keep seems to be uncommon until the late 1800s.  Instead, the pudding was wrapped in clean pudding cloth.

There are a few things to break down here.

First, a pudding cloth is a tight woven linen or cotton cloth that is used to boil the pudding.  For most of history in England, puddings were boiled in the cloth - not in a bowl.  The cloth absorbed oil and grease from the pudding so it was a lot like a waxed cloth and this cloth would be lightly boiled before being dusted with flour and the pudding batter being placed in the cloth.  The cloth reduced the amount of moisture that entered the pudding and contained it so it wouldn't rise too much and get air in it.  Some recipes say to hang it in this cloth, others to take it out and to boil and dry a new pudding cloth to wrap the pudding before hanging.  The cloth can breathe enough that the pudding would dry out slowly.  The closest thing in my mind is when we hang a sausage to cure.  It slightly ferments and dries as it ages, but we want to eat it up within a year or the fats could go rancid.  

The other thing I really like about this tradition is that we are making the pudding while there are still a lot of foods available.  Right now I still have an excess of eggs and apples and leftover dry fruit from the year before, but come mid-winter, it's hard to get enough eggs for everyone's favourite desserts.  It's also hard to find enough time to make something that takes so long to prep and boil that close to the Holiday meal.  

These days - by these days, I mean when people started installing stoves in the home like coal, gas, and now electric - it's much easier to make a pudding so there's less bother about how to preserve it and more about getting the flavour and texture that the people are used to.  In the early 21st century, we are used to light cakes that are quite moist.  This is why I think so many pressure cooker recipes for puddings don't cover their puddings.  They are going to be eating it in a few hours or days so having extra moisture and the chance of air pockets in the pudding is desired.  

We have easy access to sugar now, so there's no need to get the sugars in the dry fruit to caramelize in the pudding by boiling it for 8+ hours.

Lots of little changes in how we eat and what supplies we have.  


Today, I'm baking bread so I'll have some bread crumbs for transforming into pudding.  My first pudding, I'm going to use what I have in the house.  If it works out, I'll adapt the ingredients to try to get some specific flavours for the Holiday meal.  
 
r ranson
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Using a pudding basin
 
r ranson
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Breadcrumbs are a big part of the Holiday boiled pudding, so I made a few extra loafs of bread and crumbled them up.  Only half a loaf escaped and was nearly rock hard.  Exactly what I want for bread pudding!  

Bread pudding in our family is a boiled or steamed pudding cooked on the stove, not in the oven.  It's the perfect way to moisten rock-hard bread into a soft custard-like pudding.  It can be savoury or sweet, I like it semi-sweet like breakfast food.

I made a variation on my bread pudding recipe, this time replacing the maple syrup for the same volume of sugar for a not-quite sweet custard then adding a tablespoon of jam (aka, what was left in the bottom of the jar) to the bottom of the pudding basin to add flavour and help it turn out (fall out) of the basin.  The ratios were altered based on what was leftover in the kitchen - it really is a use-it-all-up pudding.  

The usual boil time is 1 hour or steam for 1.5h.  So I cooked it in the pressure cooker on high for 30 min.  I took the minimum water requirements for my pressure cooker (2cups) plus one cup and that was just about perfect as quite a bit of moisture was absorbed into the pudding.  I also used a trivet so the pudding wasn't sitting on the bottom. I used fast pressure release because I hungry.

So good!  

And most importantly, the pudding basin didn't crack or show any signs of damage.  

I didn't have parchment paper, so I tried wax paper.  It was okay.  I think I might make some proper pudding cloths if I'm going to be having boiled puddings again on a regular basis.  
 
r ranson
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More about holiday pudding

https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/food/2011/11/christmas-puddings.shtml

The essentials for the best puddings

Use a mixture of flour and breadcrumbs, not just flour. Though in older times the choice was more to do with economy, breadcrumbs give the pudding a much lighter texture. And again, use just enough flour to hold the mixture gently together.

Not too many eggs, and more egg yolk that white if you can. I find (contrary to Mary Kettilby) that too much egg white makes the puddings a little rubbery and tough.

Use the fruit and flavours you prefer. I like a mixture of prunes and currants with generous spices, whole un-husked almonds, and a little orange extract. But if you don’t, just change to whatever you like but keep the same overall weight of fruit to other ingredients.

Special diets should be easy to fit it. Gluten-free? No problem. Just use a gluten free flour, and use gluten-free bread for breadcrumbs. Suet can be replaced with melted butter, or a little walnut oil. For egg-free or vegan just use a little more flour, and increase the spices, and vary the consistency with a little orange juice. And of course, nuts are optional.

Don’t overfill the boiling pot, and avoid the baking paper and foil covering your pudding from dipping into the water. During the boiling the paper can pull moisture from the water into the pudding, leaving you with a layer of water on top of your pudding, so scrunch the foil and paper up around the edge of the bowl out of the water.

Once the pudding has boiled, leave the string tied around the covering intact - don’t peek at all, and store in a cool and dark cupboard once cool. This will ensure the pudding stays mould and bacteria-free until Christmas.

Though a big pudding looks impressive, you can make smaller ones too. Individual dariole moulds, covered just like a big pudding and baked in a bain-marie in a low 130°C/110°C fan/260°F/Gas 1/2 oven for an hour (check the middle is piping hot), work very well.

 
r ranson
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A few more details about steamed vs boiled puddings and the history of the two cooking techniques.

I hope to explore more about what pressure cooking does to the steaming process because the results aren't like steaming.  But I've more experimenting to do first.  
 
r ranson
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Another version of the Christmas Pudding.  It's got some great shots to show the texture of the batter.  I like how they are cooking one in a mould and one in a cloth to show the difference.  
 
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