When I made a steamed oat honey pudding last year, one of the comments on my blog suggested that a greener approach to steaming would be heat retention cooking. So today, I confected a ‘haybox*’ (*no actual hay included) with the idea of using that rather than burning electricity for an hour for the cranberry and honey pudding I’ve loved steaming before. I’d read an account of how to make your own ‘haybox’ while I was researching for an article on green cooking (published in the English Prishtina Insight newspaper but available online in Albanian) and if the name conjures up hippies and homesteading, let me reassure you that this was made from a cardboard box lined with ripped up newspapers and a chipped pizza box, then wrapped in an old eiderdown – an urban take on the casserole classic.
Unfortunately, it would be untruthful to tell you that the pudding actually ‘cooked’ in the retained heat haybox, though it retained its heat impressively. I think I was probably too ambitious for my first round of retained heat cooking, but I’ve bonded strangely with this old box-in-a-blanket, and am thinking of all the other food I can prepare in it – rice pudding, porridge, bean stew… The websites devoted to heat retention cooking assure you that if you put the warm ingredients in before you leave for work, ‘your supper will be waiting for you when you get home’, as if it’s not just a strawbox you’re building, but a wife.
Meanwhile, here’s the recipe for a pudding that tastes good enough to be worth burning an hour of fossil fuels.
For the pudding:
2 cups dried cranberries
1.5 cups flour (I don’t mean to brag about my green credentials, but I should mention that I used half wheat flour, bought at the supermarket, and half barley flour, ground in a watermill in a village in Kosovo I visited last year :-))
1 tsp bicarb of soda
0.5 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp salt
2/3 cup honey
1/3 cup hot water.
For the honey sauce:
0.5 cup butter
2/3 cup honey
2 tbsp flour
2 eggs, beaten slightly
0.5 cups lemon juice
225g creme fraiche
Mix dry ingredients. Mix together honey and water and stir into fruit mixture. Pour into a heatproof bowl and set the bow on a rack in about 3cm water in a large bot. Heat the water to a simmer, and cover and steam for an hour.
While the pudding is cooking, prepare sauce. Combine butter, honey, flour and eggs in a double boiler over simmering water. Heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens; do not boil. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and creme fraiche.
For more honey recipes, honey tasting notes, and stories behind extraordinary honeys, see my recently published Little Book of Honey.