Steamed vanilla pudding with pears and vanilla crème anglaise

AT A GLANCE

  • Serves 6 - 8 people

There's something very comforting about a steamed pudding, especially when it's drizzled with warm vanilla crème anglaise. Serve it with seasonal fruit - we've gone for the pale beauty of poached pears.

  • 330 gm softened butter
  • 330 gm (1½ cups) caster sugar
  • Scraped seeds of 2 vanilla beans
  • Finely grated rind and juice of 2 lemons
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 70 ml pouring cream
  • 300 gm (2 cups) plain flour
  • 1 1/3 tsp baking powder
  •  
  • Vanilla poached pears
  • 440 gm (2 cups) raw caster sugar
  • 375 ml light dessert wine, such as Beaumes de Venise
  • 2 vanilla beans, split and seeds scraped
  • Juice of 1 lemon and 1 orange
  • 6 ripe beurre bosc pears, halved and cored
  •  
  • Vanilla crème anglaise
  • 350 ml pouring cream
  • 150 ml milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • Thinly peeled rind of ½ lemon
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 80 gm caster sugar
01   Beat butter, sugar, vanilla and rind in an electric mixer until light and fluffy (4-5 minutes). Scrape down sides of bowl, then add eggs and yolk one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat until smooth. Combine cream and lemon juice in a bowl and set aside to curdle (1-2 minutes; mixture will separate into clumps). Add flour and baking powder to butter mixture and beat to just combine, adding cream mixture at the end. Beat until just smooth, then spoon into a buttered and floured 2.25-litre pudding bowl lined on the base with a round of baking paper. Cover with a buttered piece of baking paper and then foil, pleating in the centre, tie with string and place in a large saucepan lined with a tea towel (this provides insulation and prevents the pudding rattling around too much). Pour in boiling water to halfway up the sides of the bowl, cover and simmer until pudding is cooked through, adding water as necessary (3-3½ hours; it should feel springy in the centre and a skewer will withdraw clean). Remove from saucepan, remove foil and baking paper, stand for 15 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate.
02   Meanwhile, for vanilla poached pears, stir sugar, wine, vanilla beans and seeds, juices and 250ml water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to the simmer, add pears, cover with a piece of baking paper, then weight with a plate. Bring back to the simmer, reduce heat to medium and simmer until pears are tender (20-25 minutes, depending on the ripeness of the pears). Set aside in liquid until required.
03   Meanwhile, for vanilla crème anglaise, bring cream, milk, vanilla bean and seeds and rind to the simmer in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk yolks and sugar in a bowl until sugar dissolves, pour cream mixture over and whisk to combine. Return to pan and stir continuously until mixture thickly coats the back of a wooden spoon (4-5 minutes), strain and serve with warm steamed vanilla pudding and poached pears.
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