July 1st, 2024

Sean’s Ode to Esther

In special honour of said mothers, Chef Sean Connolly shares the story and the recipe of his grandma’s Treacle Pudding. A recipe which was passed down from his grandma Esther to his mother Margaret, a dish that Sean says is a celebration of the good times around the table, food to make people smile, even when times are tough are all around us. 

“Esther was a great storyteller. We’d sit around the table talking about the war and she would share stories of her struggles of putting food on the table, as many women did at the time in the second world war. Every time we spoke about a dish that week, the following week Esther would have it for dinner.  

There’s a saying in Yorkshire, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, which means you’re unable to make something beautiful out of something ugly to give it value. I actually disagree, there are so many ways to make secondary cuts and offal into beautiful things. Pig fat can be used in short-crust pastry, suet is beef kidney fat which is used to make sweet puddings such as treacle sponge. We use pig blood to make our own black pudding at Esther, and bone marrow is delicious roasted and spread on toast, the list goes on.  

Perhaps beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The real art is what chefs can do with unwanted cuts or very little in the pantry. Esther’s treacle pudding uses vegetable suet which makes this dessert deliciously moist”. 


Treacle Pudding

Serves: 4-6

200g vegetable suet, coarsely grated
200g caster sugar
3 eggs
200g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 tbs milk
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/3 cup golden syrup plus extra for drizzling
Softened butter, for greasing
Vanilla ice cream or custard, for serving


  1. Grease a 1L capacity pudding basin and pour in the golden syrup.
  2. Place the suet and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and using the paddle attachment beat on medium high for 3-4mins or until creamy. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder and salt together. Add 3 tablespoons of the flour mix to the sugar mix and mix for 30sec.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl between each egg. Gently fold the remaining flour mix, lemon zest and milk into the sugar mix.
  4. Spoon the mix into the pudding basin. Cover with a lid or a baking paper and foil, making a pleat in the centre to allow the pudding to rise. Tie the foil securely with string, then place into a large saucepan of simmering water, that comes halfway up the sides of the pudding basin.
  5. Steam for 1½ hours. Allow to rest in the basin for 5mins before turning out onto serving plate. Serve drizzled with extra syrup and ice cream or custard.

QT Auckland’s namesake is an homage to Sean’s grandma. When speaking of Esther Restaurant, Sean says “it’s not just a restaurant, it’s a philosophy. It’s a feeling. It’s a warm hug, a friend, a loud laugh, a storyteller’s home, a place that brings people together”.

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