Canary steamed pudding

Canary Pudding with Lemon Sauce

Canary Pudding with Lemon Sauce

By Cat, Jan 2008 (Photo, right, from Delia Online (1))

I found this recipe (and photo) at Delia Online (1), while searching for different Sticky Toffee Pudding recipes.  I’ve always loved lemon cakes, so this one appealed to me.  However, this type of food is exactly what I’m trying to avoid.  It’s made with processed, superfine sugar and self-rising white flour.  The lemon curd and lemon sauce are also made with lots of sugar. Altogether, it spells trouble for someone like me who has impaired insulin sensitivity and consequently, impaired sugar metabolism.  Nevertheless, the challenge is on, to create a similar dessert using more healthful ingredients.  (I’ve not yet tested this).

Options for the most healthful ingredients

The original recipe uses English ingredients and measurements. Consequently, another challenge is to find similar American ingredients, and to convert the English ounces to cups or tablespoons.  The latter challenge is simply a math exercise (8 oz or 16 Tbsp per cup); the former challenge is a bit more difficult.


The original recipe calls for double cream, which is an English term for raw cream skimmed off the top of the fresh milk, with the equivalent of 2 Tbsp milk added per pint of cream.

If you have access to raw cow’s milk (or you have a cream separator for goat’s milk), you can make this yourself. If not, a reasonable substitute is whipping cream (but avoid ultra-pasteurized variety) with the added milk.

Lemon curd:

This is the ingredient that makes it canary yellow. While it is an English term, it has become fairly well known in America. Lemon Curd is a lemony sauce thickened by incorporation of butter, eggs and superfine sugar with lemon juice and zest.  See Dessert Sauces for the recipe to make lemon curd.


The original recipe cites ¾ cup golden caster sugar.  In the US, we know this as superfine, bar, or baker’s sugar. Golden caster sugar is unrefined, dried sugar cane juice  that is ground very fine.  The finely-ground golden variety is hard to find in the US, but is certainly more healthful than white superfine sugar.  Rapadura is also unrefined, dried sugar cane juice, but is a regular grind (not superfine).  If you have a food processor, you can try processing your sugar to a finer grind.  Another option is Rapadura Powdered Sugar (or make your own from Rapadura: Unrefined Powdered Sugar: Make Your Own. However, powdered sugar of any variety is an even finer grind than superfine, and packs differently, so use less.

But any of the above sugar options is just too much sugar. What to do?

One option is to use xylitol or other sugar alcohol instead of sugar.  But these, like sugar, are also highly processed, and no long-term data is available on the generational consequences of consuming sugar alcohols in large quantities (such as frequent desserts).

Another option is agave syrup, but when I first wrote this recipe, I didn’t know much about it–it was too new. Since then I’ve learned a lot, and it does not cause agave syrup in good light. See my article on The EssentiaList: Sweet Cravings Part 2: Corn Syrups, Agave Nectar & Aguamiel (pdf).

The best option is to use a combination of maple syrup or honey, and stevia, as in my version presented here.


The self-rising flour presents another challenge. While it’s fairly easy to substitute with unbleached white flour and add leavening, this change hardly improves the nutritional value.  On the other hand, the brownness of whole wheat flour would take away from the natural canary yellow color imparted by the lemon.  What to do?  Compromise.

I substitute with half whole wheat (as white whole wheat) and half unbleached white flour (or all unbleached white flour for special occasions); plus 1 ¼ tsp baking powder plus ⅛ tsp unrefined sea salt per cup of flour. The reason for using ‘white’ whole wheat is because it is lighter in color that the more typical red whole wheat. If you cannot find a white whole wheat flour, use less of the red and more unbleached white flour.

I add coconut flour to increase the fiber, and help retain moisture. If you don’t wish to use coconut flour, reduce the milk or other liquids in the recipe by the same amount.

To make this even more healthful, you could pre-soak the whole wheat flour in the milk and lemon juice overnight, then mix with the rest of the batter. I include this version below the main recipe.

Canary Steamed Pudding

The batter in this first version uses hard white whole wheat flour with a bit of unbleached white and coconut flours.  See below for a version using pre-soaked whole wheat flour (start the evening before).  Below these two versions you will find the detail for steaming the puddings.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • 1 recipe Lemon Curd
  • Sponge Pudding Batter (or see pre-soaked flour version, below):
  • 1 lemon (for 1 Tbsp juice and zest of entire lemon)
  • scant ¼ tsp powdered stevia extract (or ¾ cup Rapadura or white cane sugar ground superfine, and eliminate the maple syrup below) **
  • ⅜ cup (¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp) white whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup unbleached white flour *
  • 2 Tbsp coconut flour (if not using, increase unbleached white flour to ⅜ cup and eliminate the 2 Tbsp milk) *
  • 2 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp unrefined sea salt
  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) butter, softened
  • 2 Tbsp milk *
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp Grade-B maple syrup **
  • Lemon Sauce:
  • remainder of lemon curd
  • 10 fl oz double cream (½ plus 2 Tbsp cup raw cream or whipping cream, plus 2 tsp whole milk)
  • Equipment:
  • eight 6-oz pudding cups, or 6-cup (48 oz) Savarin or other ring mold
  • steamer (may need 2)
  • aluminum foil
  • waxed paper or baking parchment

* If you eliminate the coconut flour, use ⅜ cup unbleached white flour and eliminate 2 Tbsp milk.

** If you prefer to use sugar rather than stevia, use ¾ cup Rapadura or white cane sugar ground superfine, and eliminate the stevia and maple syrup


  1. Prep: Prepare Lemon Curd; set aside.  If you make this ahead, store it in a clean dry jar with a crew-top lid.
  2. Butter pudding cups (or Savarin ring mold well; place a piece of buttered baking parchment (or waxed paper) in the bottom of each cup or of the ring mold.
  3. Grate zest from entire lemon; squeeze 1 Tbsp juice.  If using stevia, stir it into the lemon juice.
  4. Batter: Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.
  5. Combine butter, milk, eggs, sugar or maple syrup (if using), lemon zest and juice in a small bowl.  Add this liquid to the flour and mix with hand mixer about 2 minutes until thoroughly blended.
  6. Assemble and steam: Fill bottom of each cup with 1 rounded dessert spoon of lemon curd (or distribute 6 rounded dessert spoons around bottom of ring mold); spoon batter on top of the lemon curd.  Level the top(s).
  7. Steam the pudding(s) (see instructions, below).
  8. Lemon sauce: While pudding(s) are cooking, prepare the lemon sauce as follows: Place remaining lemon curd in a small saucepan; add ¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp filtered hot water and the cream.
  9. Heat gently, stirring constantly, until hot but not bubbling.
  10. Serve: When puddings are cooked, turn them out of the cups onto dessert plates (or out of the ring mode onto a serving plate), so that the lemon curd is on top.  Remove waxed paper/baking parchment.  Spoon warm sauce over all.

Canary Steamed Pudding Batter with Pre-Soaked Flour

Pre-soaking whole grains with flour improves the nutrition of the flour by initiating the same biochemical changes that happen during germination. Specifically, the minerals are released from their bondage by phytic acid so they can activate enzymes which go on to produce more vitamins and co-factors, convert some of the fiber to starch, break down some proteins into peptides and amino acid to create new proteins. For more on this, see Soaking/Sprouting Grains, Legumes, Nuts & Seeds (Intro).

although I’ve tested presoaks for other recipes, I’ve not yet tested this one, so am not certain the ratio of flour to liquid in the presoak is adequate. The presoak mixture should be fairly thick but you should still be able to stir it. If more liquid (milk) is needed, take note of the amount added, then increase the coconut flour by the same amount the next day, to take up the extra liquid.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • Lemon Curd and Lemon Sauce (see above)
  • Sponge Pudding Batter; Pre-Soak:
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • ⅜ cup (¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp) white whole wheat flour
  • Batter:
  • ¼ cup unbleached white flour **
  • 2 Tbsp coconut flour **
  • 2 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp unrefined sea salt
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • scant ¼ tsp stevia extract powder
  • Equipment:
  • 2 small bowls
  • eight 6-oz pudding cups, or 6-cup (48 oz) Savarin or other ring mold
  • steamer (may need 2)
  • aluminum foil
  • waxed paper or baking parchment


  1. Pre-Soak: Grate zest from entire lemon; squeeze 1 Tbsp juice.  If using stevia, stir it into the lemon juice.
  2. Combine juice and zest with milk (this will thicken and sour the milk for the presoak).
  3. Measure whole wheat flour into large bowl.  Stir in milk mixture until well mixed. If the batter is too thick to work, add another 1 teaspoon milk (and increase coconut flour the next day by the same amount).
  4. Press a sheet of waxed paper or buttered parchment against the flour mixture, so that the entire surface is covered.  Let sit on counter 12 hours or overnight.  When you pull off the paper in the morning, scrape any batter stuck to the paper back into the bowl.
  5. Batter: Sift white flour, coconut flour, baking powder and salt into a small bowl. NOTE: if you increased the milk in the presoak, increase the coconut flour by the same amount.
  6. Whisk butter, eggs and maple syrup in a small bowl.  Add this mixture to the soaked flour and mix with hand mixer about 2 minutes until thoroughly blended.  Stir in sifted dry ingredients.
  7. Fill pudding cups and bake, as for main recipe.

Method to Steam the Puddings for either recipe:

  1. Cut 8 squares of waxed paper (or buttered baking parchment), each about 3 inches wider than the top of the pudding cup.  Cut 8 squares of aluminum foil, slightly larger than the paper squares.  Lay a foil piece on top of a paper; make a pleat of the two together, and place over a filled pudding cup.  Secure to the top of the cup with string (you need to be able to untie the string to test the pudding for doneness).  The pleat is to allow for expansion of the batter during baking.
  2. Place covered cups on a rack set inside the steamer.  Fill steamer with boiling water about half-way up the side of the basins. NOTE: you many need more than one steamer.
  3. Steam the puddings about 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or the center springs back when pressed.  It will take longer to steam if you use a ring mold.

Assembly or Serving Suggestions

  1. Un-mold the pudding(s):
    • Individual puddings: Place each pudding upside down on a dessert plate and gently lift off the pudding cups. The lemon curd should be on top.
    • If you used a ring mold, turn it upside down on a serving plate, then gently lift the mold off the pudding; the lemon curd should be on top.
  2. Spoon warm lemon sauce over each individual pudding or over the ring.  Garnish with thin slivers of lemon peel.


  1. Delia Online recipe and image:,1004,RC.html

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