Recipe for Steamed Leek and Onion Suet Pudding

Savoury Steamed Puddings

This is another one of those traditional types of meals, not from South Africa, but rather from Wales.

A lot of Welsh, Cornish, Irish and Scots, not necessarily any order came and settled in South Africa, for various reasons, some of them to escape the tyranny of the English, others extreme poverty, when the crops failed, and the tennant farmers had to survive by eating grass and kelp, throughout icy cold winters.

The influx was during the 1820's and became part of the English speaking inhabitants of South Africa. They brought with them a wealth of cultures and great cullinary delights.

In the 1960's South Africa experienced another wave of European settlers from all over Europe, they brought their cultures, as well as more importantly, their culinary contribution to our already unique local food styles.

Onion and Leek Pudding

To make the pudding base you could visit the hub on the traditional steak and kidney pudding.

but it is always easier to read it all in one hub, so:-

Suet Crust


300g of flour

60ml baking powder

5ml salt

Freshly ground white pepper

5ml dried thyme

150g chopped suet

Cold Water

25ml freshly squeezed lemon juice

Prepare the suet pastry

Chop the suet very fine

Mix the all the dry ingredients into a large bowl, use your hands to lift and fold the suet evenly and thoroughly in the flour.

Make a well with a wooden spoon in the flour.

Add the lemon juice to the cold water

Pour some of the water into the flour and mix it well to make firm dough.

Use as little water as possible.

Once mixed dust your work surface with enough flour, and dust your rolling pin.

Make a sausage of the dough and cut off a quarter of it and place to one side.

Roll out the larger of the two dough balls into a large circle with the dough, make sure that is evenly thick.

Smear a 1 ½ litre pudding bowl with a bit of lard or butter.

Place the circle of dough into the bowl and press it firmly against the base and sides, allowing at least a 2 ½ cm overlap of dough over the bowl.

Roll the other sausage of dough into a circle that will fit over the top of the bowl.

The Filling


1 chopped huge onion or a couple of the medium onions also chopped

Several leeks cut into slices


salt and pepper

1 teaspoon sage

The Assembly and cooking

Place a third of the chopped onions into the suet lined pudding bowl then cover with the slice leeks, then repeat with a second layer of onions followed by the leeks and to be sure, place another layer to finish off the onions and leeks. Add the salt and pepper to season, a good sprinkling of sage, and generous pats of butter.

Cover with the suet lid

Wet all the edges of the suet crust with water.

Place the lid on top of the onion leek mixture and press the edges of the over lap from the lined dough together firmly to make a seal.

There should still be a gap between the top of the dough and the rim of the bowl.

Cut some foil into a circle 5cm wider than the outer rim of the bowl.

Place on top of the bowl and tie it down with some string, make a string handle so that it can be moved easily in and out of the steamer.

Place a trivet into a pot wide enough to allow the pudding bowl in.

Bring the water to a boil

Lower the pudding into the pot

The water should come about two thirds of the way up the sides of the bowl, adjust with boiling water.

Cover and let boil for 2 hours.

Check the level of the water and always top up with boiling water

Make a good brown gravy with mushrooms and spring onions.

Serve with steamed vegetables.

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Comments 12 comments

G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 8 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

yummy..sounds really , really good..G-Ma :o) hugs

sixtyorso profile image

sixtyorso 8 years ago from South Africa

You make me hungry just by breading your Hubs

Great one!

Karen Ellis profile image

Karen Ellis 8 years ago from Central Oregon

I kept thinking there were going to be eggs and milk with the onions to make a kind of custard/pudding. I wonder how that would taste? Rodney, what is suet anyway? I know I've heard of it, but it must not be so available here in Oregon, US.

TetonRose profile image

TetonRose 8 years ago from Utah

Rodney --

This sounds very good.  I'm wondering if it is actually an original version of the onion pudding my grandmother would make nearly 60 years ago on the ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  As she would not have had any leeks -- and very probably her mother-in-law (who had made it for my grandfather many years before that!)-- almost certainly had no leeks, it may have been this recipe but minus the leeks.  I'm also fairly certain she did not use suet in her crust so that may have been the thing that was different in Grandma's.  (Grandad always said Grandma's was never quite like what his mother had made when he was a boy.) 

I'm going to try this when I can get some suet!



Suet is beef (usually or always?) fat that is ground up to use in some of the older cooking recipes/traditions.  It does not seem to often be available in the grocery stores in the western US.  Sometimes I've seen a small amount in the meat area around the holidays.  Several years ago, when I asked for some, the butcher said there was only a small amount of suet for each animal and that I would need to order it (so they didn't discard it when the animal was slaughtered).  I believe he said it comes from around the kidney area of the animal but I'm not certain about that. 

It is also used to feed birds in the winter time.   On our ranch we would tie a piece with string and hang it in the air just outside the window so we could watch the birds as they would come and feed on it.  Wyoming winters could be very cold and the birds needed the extra fat to help keep them warm.  Watching the chickadees, woodpeckers, and others come to our window feeding "station" provided many hours of enjoyment for young and old alike.

Suet was used in several kinds of steamed puddings.  Grandma used to occasionally make Suet Pudding for us.  It was served with a hard sauce made from sugar, water, and (probably) a little vanilla.  I will share that recipe when I find it.

Karen Ellis profile image

Karen Ellis 8 years ago from Central Oregon

Thanks Teton Rose - now that I've heard you say it is used to feed birds, I know that's where I'd heard of it.

Hey Rodney, where are you these days, time for another post, don't you think?

Just_Rodney profile image

Just_Rodney 8 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City Author

Hi all I am back, I had to be off for an operation, and am now recuperating, my router went on the blink and had to be replaced. All done and noe up.

Teton, thanks for explainining suet to Karen. I usually use a bit of the fat from brisket and chop that up finely as a sute substitute.

Your grandma might have then used shallots or spring onions in with the onions then.

Give us a few days to get on and write a couple or so good hubs.

007 7 years ago

I have just read this it reminds me of when my mum used to make Bacon and Onion Pudding. Made the same way but with Bacon and Onion and mum used to make it into a sausage shape. Oh it does bring back lovely memories. I will certainly try this at the weekend.

Just_Rodney profile image

Just_Rodney 7 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City Author

The basic is there, yes home cured bacon would go down well with that recipe. Thanks for stopping by.

gavsparr 6 years ago

What about this healthy living,when its suet you just got to forget it.

Just_Rodney profile image

Just_Rodney 6 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City Author

Gavsparr, agreed it does not sound like healthy living and may be a contradiction. However your are not going to eat too much at a serving as it is rich and hearty.

However I would prefer to eat this type of meal after a hard day in the coal mines. Or in the fields harvesting without the aid of combine harvesters.

This could turn into a long debate, suffice to say a suet crust with filling is healthier than the added vitamin enriched breads, polished rice and your daily doses of vitamins and food supplements.

BuckBlack 5 years ago

Not from Wales at all (in spite of the key ingredient being leeks).

Leek pudding is an old Northumberland (Northern English) dish.

Just_Rodney profile image

Just_Rodney 5 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City Author

Thank You BuckBlack, but when I had learnt this recipe it could well have been from some one from the North of England, as so as the recipes that I have touched on from Irish traditional foods could wel be fom North or South, it is this mixture of cultures and flavovurs that put together make our South African Cooking richer for their contributions.

Thanks for the comment

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