Saving the Classics

When I was young, my mother fed us homemade puddings every night. It was a real treat as we had everything from Victoria sponges to fruit crumbles and sago puddings.

Here, I've included a variety of puddings I pleasantly remember and adore. It's important we don't forget the classics - they are, after all, part of our heritage.

 

Photos: Simon Lambert
Photos: Simon Lambert
Queen of puddings

What a fitting way to start our tribute with the queen of puddings. Custard base, layered with jam and finished with meringue.

Serves 6

Ingredients

Base
600ml full-fat milk
25g butter, plus extra for greasing the dish
1 lemon, zest finely grated
50g caster sugar
3 free-range eggs, yolks only
75g fresh white breadcrumbs

Meringue
175g caster sugar
3 free-range eggs, whites only
100g raspberry or strawberry jam

To serve
Pouring cream (optional)

Method
Heat the oven to 170degC and grease a 1.4-litre shallow ovenproof dish with butter (it will need to fit into a roasting tin).

For the base, very gently warm the milk in a small saucepan. Add the butter, lemon zest and the 50g of sugar, stir until dissolved.

Lightly whisk the egg yolks in a bowl. Slowly pour the warm milk into the eggs, while whisking.

Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the base of the buttered dish and pour over the custard. Leave to stand for about 15 minutes, so the breadcrumbs absorb the liquid.

Carefully transfer the dish to a roasting tin and fill the tin halfway with hot water. Bake the custard in the heated oven for about 20-30 minutes until the custard has set. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool a little.

Warm the jam slightly so that it is spreadable. Carefully spread 4-5 tablespoons of the jam over the set custard, then pipe the meringue on top.

Whisk the egg whites using an electric whisk on full speed until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed. Add the remaining 175g sugar a tablespoon at a time, still whisking on maximum speed until the mixture is stiff and shiny. Spoon the mixture on top of the jam carefully in small blobs until covered.

Lower the oven temperature to 150degC and return the pudding to the oven (not in the roasting tin with water) for about 20-25 minutes until the meringue is pale golden all over and crisp. Serve at once with pouring cream.

 

Egg custard tarts

These moreish little tarts are widely eaten in Britain and there are variations around the world. They never disappoint and make for the perfect finish to your day.

Makes 12 small muffin-sized tarts

Ingredients

For the sweet pastry *
165g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
25g ground almonds
120g chilled unsalted butter, cubed
55g caster sugar
1 free-range egg

Custard filling
700ml full-fat milk
7 free-range egg yolks
90g caster sugar
freshly ground nutmeg

Method
To make the pastry, stir the flour and ground almonds together in a large bowl, then add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.

Break in the egg and work it into the mixture with your fingers, bringing it together to form a soft dough.

Tip the dough on to a lightly floured work surface and shape it into a ball. Flatten with your fingers to a disc and wrap in cling film. Leave to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 190degC.

Roll out the sweet pastry on a lightly floured work surface.

Using an 11cm fluted cutter, cut out 12 discs and line the muffin tray moulds with the pastry circle. The pastry should overlap the top of the moulds by a few millimetres, so that you can crimp the edges if you wish.

Custard filling
Warm the milk in a saucepan, and beat the egg yolks and sugar together in a separate bowl until pale and creamy.

Pour the milk on to the egg yolk mixture and stir well, creating little bubbles.

Transfer the custard mixture into a pouring jug with a lip, then fill each of the tart cases.

Sprinkle a small pinch of ground nutmeg into the middle of each tart.

Bake the tarts in the oven for about 20 minutes - you may need to turn the temperature down to 180degC for the final 10 minutes.

You are looking for a very slight dome on the custard, indicating that it is baked. If the custard domes too much you have over-cooked the custard, it will have boiled, and will sink back down leaving a big dip. If this does happen, chill instantly in the fridge.

Cool in the tin for 30 minutes and then carefully remove from the moulds. The base of the tarts should be perfectly baked through, without having over-cooked the custard filling.

* You can buy pre-made sweet pastry.

 

Baked apples

I have chosen baked apples to finish with as they are always in plentiful supply and relatively inexpensive. By adding berries, nuts and raisins, these plump apples make for a glorious dessert which I'm sure will bring back many memories.

Serves 6

Ingredients
6 apples, washed
150g blackberries, washed
30g butter
2 tsp brown sugar
30g ground almonds
40g raisins

Method
Core the apples. Use a knife to score lightly around the centre of the apple (horizontally), just piercing the skin.

Heat the oven to 150degC.

Using your hands, mix the butter, brown sugar, ground almonds and raisins in a bowl.

Fill each apple to halfway with the almond mixture, then add a couple of blackberries in the centre as well.

Bake the stuffed apples in the oven until soft - about 20-30 minutes. Watch them as you do not want them to overcook them or they will burst and collapse.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or pouring cream.

 

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