(The pudding in the photo was a leftover that I ate the following day. I think the fig juices had made the sponge go a little gooey and fall apart, not great for photos, but just as delicious!)
Fresh figs are in season right now and so when I saw them on offer in my local shop I snapped up about eight! I’ve enjoyed eating them in various ways, but a girl can only eat so many before they start to look past their best. I decided to incorporate my remaining 3 figs into little steamed puddings.
The idea of steaming puddings can put some people off. They don’t like the idea of playing around with saucepans, steamers, boiling water and their lovingly prepared puddings! However, you can also steam a pudding quite successfully in the oven with the minimum of effort or fuss. You simply put your dish(s) into a deep baking tray and pour boiling water half way up the side – just like you would a cheesecake. This is known as cooking in a water bath, or to give it its proper name, a bain marie.
Using a bain marie ensures a moist and fluffy cooked sponge as the sides of the dish are never exposed to dry hot heat, protected by the outer layer of water. The water also creates steam, preventing the top from overbrowning and again ensuring a moist pudding that won’t dry out even if you over bake it.
When I sliced into the figs they looked stunning with their ruby red centres and little clusters of seeds. They were so attractive that I decided to place a thin slice of fig in the base of each of my moulds, which then formed the top when they were turned out. This worked well, although I was a little disappointed that their ruby red colour faded slightly on baking.
I flavoured the puddings with a little ground almonds and almond extract, which together with the sweet juicy figs and moist sponge made for one gorgeous pudding! Serve warm with lashings of piping hot custard (courtesy of Birds custard powder, just like mum always made!) Nothing nicer on a cold blustery day.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease the base and sides of 6 dariole moulds (or ramekins) and set to one side.
Slice the figs so that you get two thin whole slices from the middle/tallest part of each fig. Place one slice in the base of each of the moulds.
Chop up the remaining fig pieces into 1cm pieces and set to one side.
Make sure your butter is soft, if not give it a quick blast in the microwave, before adding the rest of the cake ingredients, expect the figs, and beating together with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.
Gently fold in the chopped figs so as not to break them up to much.
Divide the cake batter between the moulds, covering the fig slice in the base.
Place the moulds into a deep baking dish and carefully pour just boiled water into the tin until it reaches about half way up the sides of the moulds. Cover the top with a sheet of foil.
Transfer the dish to the oven and bake for 30 minutes until springy to the touch and ever so slightly golden on top (they won’t raise much).
Remove from the oven and the water bath. Run a thin sharp knife around the edge of each mould and boldly invert it onto the centre of a serving plate. It should release from the mould easily.
Serve straight away, hot from the oven with lashing of piping hot custard