Vegetable suet puddings with a cheese & mustard sauce

Steamed suet puddings (whether sweet or savoury) are up there among my top 5 all-time favourite dishes: they epitomise comfort eating for me. These savoury steamed puddings are packed with a variety of vegetables in a light cheese and mustard sauce that oozes out as you cut into them.

Importantly, both the flavour and the texture of the vegetables are easily identifiable in these puddings. There is a small amount of lightly pickled cauliflower that adds crunch and a subtle piquancy, cutting through the richness of the cheese, although the filling itself is neither too cheesy nor too heavy. Lightly pickled vegetables are lovely to munch on in their own right!

These puddings are great served with a salad of choice or with vegetables that would typically be served with a roast. There is some sauce from the puddings but you could make up a light gravy or a thin parsley sauce to go with them.

The puddings can also be made up a couple of days in advance, and wrapped in foil, before steaming.


  • You can use all manner of vegetables here: other favourites of mine include sweetcorn, peas, leeks and fennel.
  • Instead of the pickled cauliflower, radishes or onions are excellent to pickle.
  • This works well with other cheeses, too, although use a cheese that is not likely to dominate too easily; while you want to taste the cheese, the vegetables should be the star! You can, of course, omit the cheese altogether.
  • You can make these into one large steamed pudding, steaming for about 90 minutes or so.
  • The vegetable mixture makes an excellent filling for pasties or pies, using either puff pastry or shortcrust pastry, although for pies I would cut the vegetables into chunkier pieces.

Steamed vegetable puddings – makes 6 individual puddings

suet pastry:

  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 150g suet
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • grinding of black pepper
  • about 200ml cold water

vegetable filling:

  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced
  • about 100g cauliflower, cut into small florets and chopped small
  • a few small new potatoes, scrubbed and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • knob of butter

pickled cauliflower:

  • 60ml white wine vinegar
  • 20ml granulated sugar
  • 20ml water
  • 1 heaped teaspoon mustard seeds, crushed
  • 50g cauliflower, sliced thinly for pickling

cheese sauce:

  • 40g butter
  • 40g plain flour
  • 400ml milk
  • salt and freshly milled black pepper
  • 1 heaped teaspoon grain mustard
  • 70g cheese (I used mature Cheddar)

You will need 6 individual pudding or dariole moulds, well buttered.

(1) Pickle the cauliflower: heat the vinegar, sugar and water together in a small pan until the sugar has dissolved and pour this liquor over the cauliflower. Leave for a couple of hours or overnight, to allow the cauliflower to take on a little of the pickling flavour.

(2) Prepare the vegetable filling: heat the butter in a pan and add the vegetables, thyme and seasoning. Sauté gently for about 10 minutes, without browning, until just starting to soften. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

(3) Make the cheese sauce: heat the butter in a pan over a gentle heat until melted and starting to sizzle. Add the flour and seasoning and mix well into the butter. Cook gently, stirring all the time, for a couple of minutes to form the roux. Remove from the heat and add the milk a little at a time, stirring well to incorporate it into the roux. Return to the heat, bring gently to the boil, stirring all the time, and let the sauce simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese until it has melted. You will have a sauce that is about the consistency of double cream: if it is too thick, add more milk.

(4) Mix the cheese sauce with the cooked vegetables and taste, adjusting if necessary. Leave to cool. Remove the pickled cauliflower from its pickling liquor and stir this into the vegetable mixture.

(5) Make the pastry: sift the flour, mustard powder and salt into a bowl. Add enough water to form a soft, but not sticky, dough.

(6) Roll out about 3/4 of the pastry thinly and cut into circles of approximately 15cm in diameter, using a small saucer as a template – you might need to re-roll the trimmings to get 6 circles. Line the moulds with the pastry: you don’t need to be too delicate with this as the pastry is very well-behaved.  Spoon the cooled vegetable mixture into the pastry, coming up to just below the rims.

(7) Roll out the remaining pastry dough, and cut into circles the same size as the top of the moulds. Wet the pastry rims and stick the pastry lids to the rims. I press the back of a fork against the rim to ensure it is sealed.

(8) Wrap each pudding in foil, not too tightly, with a pleat along the top to allow for expansion. Steam for about 40 minutes before removing each pudding from its mould and serving.



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