Eat & Drink

Thanksgiving dessert: Steamed Sticky Pumpkin Pudding With Cranberry-Apple Sauce

Steamed Sticky Pumpkin Pudding With Cranberry-Apple Sauce and Rum-Spiked Whipped Cream, from Carter Holton
Steamed Sticky Pumpkin Pudding With Cranberry-Apple Sauce and Rum-Spiked Whipped Cream, from Carter Holton

Carter Holton’s Thanksgiving gathering for six typically boasts 10 kinds of pie.

But knowing the oven is often overcrowded on Thanksgiving, he decided to put the stove top to use with a recipe for traditional English sticky pudding.

“Pies are best made one to two days before they are served,” Holton says. “With pudding there’s no crust to worry about. And it’s a warm dessert; most Thanksgiving desserts are served cold.”

Traditionally, Holton says, knights boiled the leftover bits of food they kept in their saddle bags to turn them into sticky pudding. The pudding eventually became a holiday tradition, typically a plum pudding served with a hard sauce, which Holton adapted to pumpkin and date with a cranberry-apple sauce and rum-spiked whipped cream.

Tip: Sticky pudding can be made in a pudding basin, sold at specialty stores, or you can use an earthenware bowl. You’ll also need a 6-quart Dutch oven.

Wine notes

Dessert can be a challenge for wines, unless you stick to the simple dictum that the wine should be sweeter than the dessert. For this dish, especially with the richness of the pudding and sweetness of the spiked whipped cream, you have to bring out the big guns: port and sherry. For port, I’d choose a sweeter-styled 10 Year Old Tawny like Graham’s or Dow’s. Sweeter-styled sherries have even more sweetness and can lay waste to virtually any dessert: Lustau East India Solera Sherry is my usual go-to.

— Doug Frost, Special to The Star

Steamed Sticky Pumpkin Pudding With Cranberry-Apple Sauce

Makes 1 (6-cup) mixing bowl or pudding basin


12 ounces pitted Medjool dates

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

5 large eggs

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree

2 1/4 cups packed soft bread crumbs (leftover white bread or croissants)

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted

1/4 cup chopped candied ginger


2 cups sugar

2 tablespoons white vinegar

Zest of 1 orange

Zest of 1 lemon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 (12-ounce) bag cranberries, picked over

2 Honeycrisp apples, peeled and diced

1 cup water

1/2 cup orange juice


1 cup whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 tablespoon rum

To make the pudding: Place dates and 1 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil; remove from heat and let stand covered for 30 minute to soften.

Butter earthenware bowl. Place bowl on a piece of waxed paper or parchment paper and trace the circumference with a pencil. Cut the circle out and set bowl and paper aside.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs with the evaporated milk.

Drain the dates. In a blender or food processor, combine the dates and pumpkin until smooth; add to the milk and egg mixture.

Add the breadcrumbs to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Pour the milk-pumpkin mixture over all and stir until just combined. Stir in melted butter and candied ginger.

Put a tea kettle on to boil. Pour pudding mixture into buttered earthenware bowl. Butter waxed paper or parchment circle and place directly on the surface of the pudding mixture. Place a layer of foil on top of the waxed paper or parchment and crimp around the bowl. Roll another sheet of foil into a snake and then fashion into a ring. Place foil ring on the bottom of a 6-quart Dutch oven. Place bowl on top of ring and fill pot with boiling water  3/4 of the way up the side of the bowl.

Place the stockpot on low, creating a very light simmer … no signs of boiling! The bubbles should not break the surface. Allow pudding to steam for 3  1/2 hours. Test doneness with two fingers on top; it should feel firm.

Cool the pudding in the bowl (inside the stockpot) for 2 hours. Remove the earthenware bowl and place in the refrigerator overnight, or up to 2 weeks. Before serving time, put it back into the stockpot with boiling water and allow to steam 1  1/2 hours.

To make the cranberry-apple sauce: Place all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, or until apples are softened. Serve either chunky or smooth by pureeing in a blender.

To make the whipped cream: Chill a clean bowl and beaters. Add cream, vanilla, sugar and rum to the bowl and beat on high for 1 to 2 minutes, until soft peaks form.

To serve: Remove paper circle and foil. Place a plate on top of earthenware bowl and invert onto a serving dish. Slice pudding, then top with sauce and whipped cream.

Per serving: 635 calories (24 percent from fat), 17 grams total fat (9 grams saturated), 132 milligrams cholesterol, 115 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams protein, 643 milligrams sodium, 6 grams dietary fiber.