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Steamed Cranberry Pudding

A hot-water bath, classically called a bain-marie, is a simple and effective way to protect delicate foods–puddings, custards, some cakes–from the hot, dry heat of the stovetop or oven. This ensures they will emerge moist, tender and, in the case of custards, uncracked. The pudding mold or other container holding the food is simply placed in a larger container, and boiling water is poured into the larger container to come halfway up the sides of the mold, creating an insulating layer of water to moderate the heat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cranberries
  • 3 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 1⁄2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter,
     at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsulfured light molasses
  • 2 tsp. minced orange zest
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • Boiling water, as needed
  • Rum-Brandy Ice Cream (see related recipe
     at left) or vanilla ice cream, softened slightly
     if necessary, for serving

Directions:

Generously butter the inside of a decorative 2-quart steamed-pudding mold, including the lid. Make sure that the bottom of the mold is especially well buttered. Dust the mold and lid with granulated sugar, shaking out the excess.

In a bowl, combine the cranberries and granulated sugar and let stand while preparing the batter.

Over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, brown sugar, molasses and orange zest. Stir in the flour mixture and the buttermilk and mix well. Fold in the cranberries and any juices from the bowl. Spoon the mixture into the prepared mold and cover with the lid.

Place the mold on a wire rack inside a large, heavy pot and add boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the mold, creating a hot-water bath. Place the pot over medium-low heat, cover the pot and cook, adding more boiling water as needed to maintain the original level, until the pudding pulls away from the sides of the mold and a knife inserted at the center comes out clean, about 1 1/2 hours.

Transfer the pudding mold to a wire rack. Uncover and let the pudding rest in the mold for 15 minutes. Invert onto a plate. Cut into wedges and serve warm, accompanied with the ice cream. Serves 6 to 8.

Make-Ahead Tip: The pudding can be prepared 1 day in advance. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature, wrap in aluminum foil and rewarm in a preheated 300°F oven for 20 minutes before serving.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Thanksgiving, by Michael McLaughlin (Simon & Schuster, 2001).