Newcastle pudding is a traditional steamed pudding with a topping of cherries. Serve with custard…
Leek pudding is a savoury pudding which is traditionally made in North East England. A satisfying dish perfect for a cold day.
Suet puddings are common in British cooking. These puddings are made from suet and boiled or steamed. Whilst a pudding is normally a dessert or sweet dish like St Stephen’s pudding or Newcastle pudding, savoury versions exist as well.
Whilst on the hunt for local North East recipes I kept coming across mentions of leek pudding. I had to find out more. This is a traditional Geordie dish that probably dates back to the 18th Century. It was served as an accompaniment to stew, mince or just with gravy.
It is appropriate that leek pudding is a recipe from North East England. Leeks are often grown on allotments and a prize for the best leek is often a coveted award at village fairs. Leek growing can be a very serious business with the secrets for prize leeks handed down from generation to generation. Rivalry is intense. There are stories of leeks being destroyed and people sleeping on their allotments to guard their prized leeks from harm.
Recently a reader wrote in to tell me that as a young lad, he would sleep on a dusty armchair in the shed with his uncle before a leek show. The leek slasher was a hated figure, one small cut on a leek would mean it couldn’t be shown, even if it was a potential prize winner. The prizes for winning are valuable so this was a serious business.
A steamed pudding is a fitting way to serve leeks, giving them a place of honour on the table. The little sign in the picture I won from Geordie Gifts who create unique gifts from the North East. It seemed appropriate to use it in the photo.
Leek pudding is also known as Geordie leek pudding or Northumberland leek pudding.
I have made both variants, so you can choose which you prefer.
What is Leek Pudding?
Leek pudding is a savoury suet pudding and there are two ways to make it. The first way is wrapping leeks inside a casing of suet pastry so they tumble out when you cut the pudding. The second way is to mix the leeks into the pastry, an all-in-one version. To cook both versions you need to steam the pudding in a bowl until it is ready.
As with many local recipes, there are other variations which include adding cheese or bacon into the pudding with the leeks to add a different flavour. Whatever variant you choose the common ingredients are suet pastry and leeks.
Read more: Traditional recipes from North East England
Wartime leek pudding
It is not surprising that this dish was also popular during the Second World War. During the time of rationing filling meals would make limited food stretch further. Most people grew their own fruit and vegetables to help supplement their rations.
Leeks are a forgiving vegetable that are easy to grow. Good in many different recipes, they are in season from September to May. Leek pudding was the perfect meal for the wartime cook especially in the winter months when not many vegetables are in season.
- 230 g (8 oz) self-raising flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 100g (4oz) chopped suet
- 450g (1lb) leeks
- 8-10 tbsp cold water
- Salt and pepper for seasoning
- 1 tsp mustard (optional)
- 100g butter
- Weighing Scales
- Measuring Spoons
- Kitchen knife
- Chopping board
- Large mixing bowl
- Wooden spoon
- Pudding basin
- Baking parchment
- Silver Foil and string to make a lid for the basin, if steaming.
- Large pan (if steaming on the stove)
How to Make Leek Pudding
Don’t forget to scroll down for the complete printable recipe card.
First, sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Add the suet, salt and pepper and mustard, if using and mix thoroughly. The mustard adds a slightly spicy taste which complements the leeks.
Add the water a little at a time, mixing until you get a stiff dough. You may not need to use all the water, make sure you do not add too much as the dough will become sticky.
Chop the leeks. Slice off the root and the tough dark green part at the top. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and chop them into thin slices. Put in a sieve and rinse under a tap to remove any grit.
Melt the butter and gently toss the leeks in the butter.
Grease the pudding basin.
Two different versions
This is where the steps vary. To make the all-in-one version knead the leeks into the pastry and then push the mixture into the pudding bowl, flattening the top.
Leeks Inside Pastry Version
To make the version where the leeks are inside the pastry, roll out the pastry and line the pudding basin with it. Remember to keep aside a piece of pastry to make the top. When the basin has been lined pour the leeks into the middle of the pastry. Roll out a circle of pastry and put it on the top. You can push the edges of the pastry together.
To steam the pudding, cover the pastry top with greaseproof paper. Add tin foil over the top of the pudding basin and tie it with string. This will prevent the top from getting wet and going soggy. Put the pudding basin into a large pan of water, the water should come halfway up the bowl. Bring to a boil and steam the pudding for a couple of hours, keeping an eye on the water level. You may need to add more water.
When ready turn the pudding out onto a plate. It will keep its shape and smell delicious. If you made the all-in-one version, when you cut into the pudding the leeks come tumbling out, their delicate green colour a lovely contrast to the pastry. If you are not expecting them it is a surprise.
Have you ever tried traditional leek pudding? Let me know below.
Steaming the pudding in a cloth
As well as steaming the pudding in a pudding basin you can steam the leek pudding in a cloth or clootie. Traditionally the whole meal would have been cooked in the same water. Meat and other vegetables would boil in a string bag on the stove.
To steam the leek pudding in a cloth either put the leeks on the rolled-out pastry. Pinch the edges together making sure that the leeks are sealed in. Alternatively, knead the leeks into the pastry. Wrap the pudding in a damp floured cloth. Put the cloth in a pan of boiling water and boil for around two to three hours.
Can I cook leek pudding in the microwave?
Yes, you can cook leek pudding in the microwave instead of steaming it. Put the leek pudding into a greased pudding basin, covering it with a loose lid or cling film with a gap in it. This will help make the steam to make the pudding rise.
Cook for six to seven minutes in the microwave. Leave to stand for around a minute before tipping out onto a plate.
You may want to brown it in the oven before serving. You can place it in an oven-proof dish and cook it for ten minutes, just before you serve your roast.
Can I make leek pudding in a slow cooker?
Yes, you can make leek pudding in a slow cooker. Put two inches of water into the slow cooker. Cover the pudding basin with silver foil and string and leave in the slow cooker to steam. It will take about four hours on high or six hours on low.
What to serve with it
Leek pudding is a filling and satisfying dish and served with white sauce was the ideal accompaniment to a Sunday roast. It makes it look like you have made an extra effort to impress. Leek pudding goes well with lots of traditional British dishes. Try it with mince, stew or just gravy.
It works really well when served with a casserole instead of dumplings. Form the leek dough from the all-in-one version into dumplings and place on top of the stew for the last 25 – 30 minutes of cooking.
Leek pudding should be better known, it is a great way to serve vegetables.
Leek Pudding Recipe
- Weighing Scales
- Measuring Spoons
- Kitchen Knife
- Chopping board
- Large Mixing Bowl
- Wooden spoon
- Pudding basin
- Baking parchment if steaming
- silver foil if steaming
- string if steaming
- Large pan For steaming on stove
- 230 g (8 oz) self raising flour
- 120 g (4 oz) suet
- 1 tsp mustard optional
- salt and pepper to season
- 8-10 tbsp water
- 500 g (18 oz) leeks
- 100 g (4 oz) butter
Make the dough
- Sift the flour into a mixing bowl
- Add the suet, salt, pepper and mustard, if using. Mix together thoroughly
- Add water a small amount at a time, mixing together until a stiff dough is formed. Be careful not to add to much water as it will go sticky.
- Grease a pudding basin
Prepare the leeks
- Remove the root and tough green top leaves from the leeks. Chop in half lengthwise and then cut into small pieces.
- Melt the butter and toss the leeks in it.
Version with Leeks Inside
- Roll out the dough and use it to line the pudding basin, leaving enough to form a lid.
- Add the leeks inside the dough in the pudding basin
- Form the rest of the dough into a circle and cover the leeks with this, pressing the edges together to seal.
All In One Version
- Knead the chopped leeks into the dough and place the mixture in a pudding basin
Steam the Pudding
- Cover the pudding with a circle of baking parchment.
- Cover the basin with silver foil, tying string round to seal it.
- Place the basin into a pan of water. The water should be half way up the basin.
- Bring the water to the boil.
- Cook for two hours, topping up the water from time to time, if the level gets low.
- Turn out onto a plate.
Why not pin the recipe for later?
Tips for Making Leek Pudding
Can I use Plain Flour Instead?
Yes, if you haven’t got self-raising flour, just add 1 tsp baking powder to the plain flour.
What is Suet?
Suet is used in many traditional British recipes. It is made from the fat surrounding beef or mutton kidneys. You can also get vegetarian suet.
It is usually found in supermarkets in the baking section. Look out for Atora, which is in a bold blue box. The green box is the vegetarian option.
It should also be available at the butcher’s, but you may need to request it ahead of time.
Can I make Leek Pudding Ahead?
Yes, you can steam it the day before and then pop it in the fridge until you want to reheat it. Allow it to cool before putting it in the fridge.
When you come to reheat it the next day, just pop it in the oven for the last 20-25 minutes of cooking. This is a bit longer than a freshly steamed pudding as it will need to heat up all the way to the middle.
How Do I Reheat this Pudding?
You can reheat the pudding in the microwave or the oven.
In the microwave, just place it on a microwave-safe plate and heat it on full for two to three minutes.
In the oven, preheat your oven to 200C (180C Fan) and place on a baking tray. Heat for 20 -25 minutes to ensure it is warm all the way through.
How Long Will It Keep?
Leftover leek pudding should be stored in the fridge. Pop into an airtight container or cover with clingfilm. It will keep up to four days.
Can I Freeze Leek Pudding?
Yes, you can freeze this recipe cooked or uncooked. Make sure you have wrapped it well and put it into an airtight container. It can be kept in the freezer for up to three months. Don’t forget to label it so you know what it is and when to use it.
Defrost it overnight before steaming or reheating.
Other leek recipes to try
Leek and potato bake
Feeling cold? Leek and potato bake is a deliciously creamy meal which will warm you up and leave you feeling full. Find other ideas for recipes to cook with vegetables that in in season in February as a bonus.
Get the recipe: Leek and potato bake
Leek and lamb cobbler
While it takes a little while to make it is worth the effort. This leek and lamb cobbler is a delicious hearty meal.
Get the recipe: Leek and lamb cobbler