My Rainbow Nation Collection of Recipes – week 4
Although the sound of vinegar in a pudding is odd, this tastes great! It has a very subtle sweet and sour taste to it and is delicious served with custard or whipped cream.This is a very old traditional recipe but is still enjoyed by many South Africans today. It was often served after a Sunday lunch but I find it good for those cold winter nights! If you want to be 100% authentic, then you would cook it in a potjie (see last week’s post) over hot coals, but for our purposes, the stove top and oven will do just fine.
Next you might be wondering what the little glass in the photo is all about. That is a little bit of creamy, liquid happiness – Amarula.
Amarula is a South African cream liqueur made from the fruit of the Marula tree, also known as Sclerocarya birrea or “The Elephant Tree”, and cream. The fruit is fermented and then distilled in copper pot-stills. The marula liquor is then stored in small oak casks for two years before it is enriched with pure marula extract and blended with fresh cream. Amarula Cream is best served chilled, on the rocks or with crushed ice. It can also be used in countless desserts and cocktails.
Elephants enjoy eating the fruit of the marula tree. The story goes that Hare acted kindly towards Elephant during the year of the drought, and was rewarded with a tusk. When Hare planted the tusk in his garden, it grew into a beautiful fruit-bearing tree, which he could enjoy in time of famine. The elephant has since sought out his tusk by devouring hundreds of kilograms of fruit during the marula season. Because of the marula tree’s association with elephants, the distiller has made them its symbol and supports elephant conservation efforts. Isn’t that reason alone to buy a few bottles?
More about the Marula fruit: (taken from the Amarula website, http://www.amarula.co.za)
The exotic marula fruit is found only on the sub-Saharan plains of Africa, where it grows in the wild and bears fruit for just a few weeks a year. Not just totally delicious, it is also rich in vitamin C, potassium, calcium, magnesium as well as protein. Today marula trees grow abundantly in the wild and are found in many parts of South Africa, including the famous game reserve, Kruger National Park. They are also plentiful in Botswana, Swaziland, Namibia and Zimbabwe. The trees support an extensive ecosystem. Their cooling canopies provide habitats for a range of plants and grasses, while the fruit is eaten by elephants, rhino, warthog, kudu, baboons, vervet monkeys, zebra, porcupine and even millipedes. Their leaves are also eaten by a range of browsers, including domestic cattle. At the height of the African summer, from mid-January to mid-March, a sweet and enticingly tropical fragrance fills the air of the sub-Saharan plains. For that is when the marula fruits, heavy with goodness and flavour, drop to the ground and nature’s bounty is there for all to share. Many of the wild-growing trees, indigenous to sub-Saharan Africa, are found in the sub-tropical region of Phalaborwa in Limpopo Province. When the fruit falls to the ground, heavy with flavour and goodness, it is collected by the women of the local rural communities before being delivered to the Amarula production plant in Phalaborwa. The appeal of the marula fruit is only part of the story. A favourite amongst elephants, it is also revered as the food of kings amongst many sub-Saharan peoples. Many communities make a marula brew to present as an offering to the spirits of the ancestors or to honour their leaders. The trees themselves stand tall and crowned in leaves, providing generous shade. They are an important part of African community life and folklore. Marula trees often serve as meeting places for village gatherings and the spiritual centre for ritual activity. Known as a ‘Marriage Tree’ amongst the Zulu, the tree is believed to bestow vigour and fertility on those who marry beneath its branches. Even today, tribal wedding ceremonies are held in its shade. The hard stones inside the fruit are often dried and strung together in a necklace that traditionally symbolises love.
Back to our pudding. Vinegar pudding or Asynpoeding in Afrikaans. Try as I might, I could not find the historical antecedents of this pudding, but if anybody knows of an English, French or Dutch pudding that includes a syrup made from vinegar, I’d be very pleased to hear from you. You can use any kind of white vinegar – white wine, champagne, sherry or apple cider vinegar. I would not recommend strongly flavoured vinegars like malt or balsamic.
There will seem to be way too much syrup when you pour it over the batter – almost as much as the batter itself. Yes, the syrup will completely cover the batter like a lake, but this is normal. Don’t panic! As you bake, the syrup will soak into the batter and migrate to the bottom of the dish, so that once the pudding is baked, there will be sauce in the base of the dish to spoon over each serving.
Serves 4 to 6
2 tablespoons sweet butter
1/2 cup soft brown sugar
185 g / 6 1/2 oz cake flour (self raising) – see note
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 heaped tablespoons smooth apricot jam
note: if you do not have cake flour, you may use regular flour plus 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups water
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F
Make the sauce:
Boil the water, sugar and vinegar for about 8 minutes
Set aside to cool
Make the batter:
Grease an ovenproof dish with butter, use a high sided dish due to the amount of liquid
Beat the eggs lightly
Cream the butter and brown sugar together in a large bowl
Add the eggs beating well
Sift the cake flour, nutmeg, ginger and bicarbonate of soda into another bowl
Add the dry mixture into the wet mixture, mixing well
Add the apricot jam and stir until well blended
Pour the cooled sauce into your ovenproof dish
Spoon the batter into the dish
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the pudding is golden brown
Serve hot with custard or whipped cream