In August, the kitchen garden swells with ripe fruits and vegetables. Blackcurrants are one of the jewels in the high summer crown and gardeners find themselves racing against the birds to get to the fruit first. Recipe books assume all crops ripen uniformly, so it is pleasing to find The Country Housewife's Book by Lucy H Yates (Persephone Books, £12), which acknowledges the 'bits and bobs' that ripen late or early. Written in the 1930s, it is full of practical advice. If you find yourself with an extra bowlful of blackcurrants then this steamed pudding is perfect for a grey August day when the sun has not got its hat on.


Blackcurrant steamed pudding

Still life portrait of fresh blackcurrants arranged on an antique metal plate with beautiful patina


  • 120g butter
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 100ml milk
  • 250g destalked blackcurrants
  • 2tbsp sugar
  • 2tbsp blackcurrant jelly


  1. Cream the butter and caster sugar, beat well and add the lemon zest.
  2. Mix in a spoonful of sifted flour, add eggs, fold in the rest of flour with the baking powder, add milk.
  3. Butter a 1-litre pudding basin and pour in mixture. Put a circle of greaseproof paper in the bottom, add blackcurrants, sugar and jelly, then pour in flour mixture.
  4. Place a circle of pleated buttered paper on top and cover completely with a tin foil lid (with pleat in the centre of the foil), tie string around the rim of the basin, making a handle so that you can remove the basin when it is hot.
  5. Place in a deep saucepan on a wire stand and fill with kettle-hot water until halfway up the basin.
  6. Steam gently with the lid on for two hours, topping up the pan with boiling water.
  7. Rest for 15 minutes then serve with thick cream or custard.