This is my updated version of an heirloom recipe shared with me by retired New Jersey cranberry grower Tom Darlington. His family has been prominent in the cranberry business in the Whitesbog area of the New Jersey Pine Barrens since the late 1860’s when his grandfather, J. J. White, was the first to dig bogs and raise cranberries where they didn’t originally grow. At the time, this approach was considered so preposterous that it was dubbed White’s Folly. But by the early twentieth century, the J. J. White Company had become the largest cranberry operation in the state.
Tom’s family has been enjoying this dessert at Thanksgiving and other holidays for as long as he can remember. It was handed down from his aunt, Elizabeth White. The pudding and sauce are a perfect pair: the cranberry pudding is moist and bright with bits of tart berries,and the mild, buttery orange sauce provides balancing richness and sweetness.–Nancy Baggett
LC On The Pleasures of Pudding Note
Here in the states, we tend to overlook the pleasures of pudding. We’re all about pies with tender, buttery, flaky crusts (well, flaky, that is, if you use lard) or teetering cakes that boast a fine crumb and a generous dollop of frosting between each tier. Yet there’s quite a lot of comfort to be found in a classic pudding and its almost wobbly yet just this side of sturdy texture that just sort of caresses you like a grandma’s hug. Go ahead. Pull up a spoon.
Steamed Cranberry Pudding with Butter-Orange Sauce
Generously butter a 1 1/2-quart pudding mold, a small single-piece tube or angel food cake pan, or a similar ring mold. Dig through your cabinets until you find a deep pot or saucepan large enough to hold the mold. Place a wire rack or collapsible vegetable steaming basket in the pot or place a small heatproof bowl upside down in the pot.
In a medium bowl, stir together the cranberries and 3 tablespoons of the sugar. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the orange zest, orange juice, molasses, and remaining 5 tablespoons sugar until the sugar dissolves.
Add the molasses mixture and the butter to the flour and spice mixture, stirring just until evenly incorporated. Stir in the cranberries until evenly distributed. Scrape the batter into the mold or pan, spreading it all the way to the edges. Cover the mold tightly with a lid or aluminum foil.
Add 3/4 inch hot water to the pot. Set the mold on the rack in the pot, cover the pot, and bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Lower the heat so the water simmers very gently. Gently simmer, checking the pot occasionally and replenishing the water, if needed, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until a wooden skewer inserted in the thickest part of the pudding comes out clean. The cooking time will vary considerably depending on the mold.Transfer the mold to a wire rack. Let the pudding cool until firmed up somewhat but not completely cooled, about 30 minutes. (If you wait too long it may be difficult to unmold.) Carefully run the tip of a table knife around the sides and center tube to loosen the pudding, then carefully invert the pudding onto a serving plate. (The pudding will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in a low oven until slightly warm before serving.)
Make the butter sauce
In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, stir together the sugar, cream, butter, corn syrup, and orange zest until thoroughly combined. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar completely dissolves and the butter melts.
Bring the sauce to a gentle boil and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
To serve the pudding, cut it into slices, spoon a little sauce over each slice, and pass the remaining sauce in a pitcher or sauceboat on the side.