The closest I have come to the British culture is speaking Brit English and watching Black Adder, Fawlty Towers, Are You Being Served? and Tandoori Nights. A couple of years ago our local PBS channel started showing Coupling, which is a much funnier and very risqué version of the American series Friends.
As much as I enjoyed the Brit comedies, I did not know much about the British cuisine mainly because I never got an occasion to do so and I stay in the US. Although, I suspect the Indian vegetable sandwiches are inspired by the English petite tea sandwiches which are a thinner and much blander version of our loaded with green chutney and cucumber, onions and boiled potatoes sandwiches.
Last week, I had to sit up and take notice of British cuisine when Vaishali of Holy Cow announced her IVW:British event. Since, it is a vegan world at Vaishali’s blog; the challenge was to find a recipe which did not have eggs, meat or dairy in any form. A tough one since British food mostly consists of all these.
My first thought naturally was to take the easy way out and make the thinly sliced cucumber sandwiches I mentioned before. But then I like a challenge, a dessert and a good laugh, so when google turned up Spotted Dick as one of the popular English desserts, I had to make it. It had eggs, cream and something called suet flour and is typically eaten with custard which may or may not be cooked with it.
There were as many recipes as innuendos and tongue in cheek references to its origins. None of the recipes, however, were adaptable to be converted into a vegan version. One day, looking through my 1000 Vegetarian Recipes book, I found a simplified low-fat version called The New Age Spotted Dick.
I had all the ingredients in my pantry and I decided to omit the sauce since the cake/ pudding in the picture looked light and airy. My instincts were right. The recipe calls for 2 eggs which for the vegan version I substituted with flaxseed powder whisked in water.
1 cup raisins
½ cup corn oil, plus a little extra for brushing
½ cup superfine sugar
1/3 cup ground almonds
½ tsp flax seed powder whisked with 1/2 cup of water (In place of 2 eggs)
1 ½ cups self—rising flour
In a pan, boil the raisins with ¼ cup of water. Remove from heat and let steep for 10 minutes before draining the excess liquid.
Whisk the oil, sugar and ground almonds until thick and syrupy. It should take about 8 minutes on medium speed with an electric whisk.
Add the flax seed water and mix for another minute. Combine the flour and raisins. Stir into the mixture.
Line an 8 inch cake pan or 4 cup heatproof bowl with parchment paper and oil it. Transfer the sponge mixture to the pan and bake in a preheated oven at 340 degree for about 30 to 40 minutes till a toothpick comes out clean.
Lay a piece of parchment paper across the top of the pudding if it starts to brown too quickly. Let cool for 5 minutes before turning* on to a serving plate.
*The cake is very delicate and may break if not taken out carefully, the way mine did.
½ cup chopped walnuts
2/3 cup ground almonds
1 ¼ cup skim milk
4 tbsp granulated sugar
Put all the sauce ingredients into a pan. Bring to a boil, stir and simmer for 10 minutes.
Transfer the sponge mixture to a 4 cup/ 1 liter heatproof bowl, greased with oil, and pour on the hot sauce.
Bake in a preheated oven at 340 degree for about an hour or until well risen. Lay a piece of parchment paper across the top of the pudding if it starts to brown too quickly.
Let cool before turning out on to a serving plate. The sauce is in the center of the pudding and will spill out when the pudding is cut.
The Spotted Dick also goes to DK's AWED-Britain event, hosted this month by Simran of Bombay Foodie .