Steamed Cranberry Pudding

Coming to you today with one of my most treasured and strange holiday recipes. Versions of this oddity appear all over the internet on sketchy food sites that are mostly ads for weightloss drugs and recipes for “salads” off of the back of packaged goods. I got my version from a chef friend a few years ago who described it as the best dessert ever. Which it is. But it is also bonkers.

Here is the the thing about this recipe. It only works exactly as written. Which is a test for some of you who seem to be unable to help yourselves. But altering any part of this will throw the whole thing off. What we’re dealing with here is a fat-free (eeks!) cake that is sweetened (if you can call it that?) with only molasses. There are no spices. No vanilla. This cake is steamed like it is 1830 on your stovetop. You then unmold it (and at this point if you were to taste the cake you would be very angry with me because it is very bad) and cover it with a sauce that is basically butter and sugar. You use a lot of sauce. And the sauce and the, frankly otherwise inedible, pudding merge into one of the greatest things you could possibly eat on a cold winter day. It’s really incredible. But it you add a spice or reduce the sugar in the sauce or (god forbid!) add ZEST or whatever idea goes through your head when you read the recipe you will ruin it. Please don’t. But please make this because it just doesn’t make any sense.

Steamed Cranberry Pudding (serves 4-6?)

  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (divided)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cranberries

Butter a pudding basin (I use this one) or small cake pan thoroughly. I like to put a small round of parchment at the bottom of the basin, because I have a lot of anxiety about things getting stuck in pans. It probably isn’t necessary. Prepare a large pot that will hold the basin with a rack in it for steaming. Get it heating over lowish.

Mix the boiling water and molasses. In a separate bowl, mix 1 cup flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the molasses mixture to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. In a small bowl, combine the cranberries and remaining 1/2 cup flour. Add the cranberries and flour to the batter and stir gentle to combine. Tip mixture into prepared tin and smooth the top. Cover the top with parchment and tin foil, tightly. British people seem to do some sort of pleating that I don’t fully understand and have never done. But feel free to google it. Place in a large pot with water and steam for 2 1/2 hours (here is some info on steaming). Serve with hard sauce.

Hard Sauce

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • generous pinch salt

Mix ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over low or medium heat until hot. Serve hot over the steamed pudding.

10 comments to “Steamed Cranberry Pudding”

  1. I can’t wait to try this. I order Talbott and Arding’s Christmas pudding every year but have never ventured to make my own. More pudding! More hard sauce!

  2. Curious if you think they’d work in individual custard cups ( Pyrex). May try it. How many ounces is your pudding basin? Thanks!

  3. I know it wasn’t, but it seems this vessel was made for this pudding. It’s all beautiful together.

  4. Thank you for this excellent post! We’ll make this for xmas dinner. I’ll try to find a cute steamer bowl like yours but if not, I’m hoping a small stainless steel bowl will work. And I promise not to stray from the recipe

  5. I’m going to make this for Christmas Eve. I actually have a couple of pudding steamers which I haven’t used for a couple of years. Thanks for this recipe.

  6. I made this, fully expecting the inevitable disappointment at yet another Insta-hyped, Best Ever!, blah-bla-blah. But I was wrong. It was seriously good. Who knew?! Thanks.

  7. Thanks for this post! We’re making it for Christmas dinner. I also promise not to stray

  8. This is me reporting back: it was very easy and fun to make, and inexplicably delicious. Thanks again!

  9. I’m going to try and veganize the hard sauce and I’ll let you now if it works. I live in New England (across the pond) and we’re all about cranberries in this region, so I can’t wait to try this pudding!

  10. The inexplicability of this recipe reminds me of one of my favorite after dinner dessert/snacks. No one believes it can possibly be worth it, including me until I tried it, but it is really tasty and satisfying. Here it is:

    If you have a Vitamix, add just enough hot water from the kettle to dried apricots so that they will blend into a pudding. If no highspeed blender, then soak the dried apricots first in just enough water to cover then blend into a pudding. Serve in a fancy coupe or pretty dish and there you have it. Try it, I dare you!

What do you think?