Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Queen of Puddings

One of the stranger things about writing a cookbook is having to test recipes at odd times of day or year. Like making Christmas pudding in July. (Well, odd for us in the UK anyway. Obviously not for Australians though they have to road test barbecue recipes in the middle of winter)

So it was at six o'clock on a Tuesday evening - not a time of the week I think of eating puddings, let alone making them - that I found myself baking this traditional British recipe Queen of Puddings. Based on breadcrumbs, eggs and jam it's thriftiness personified but unexpectedly airy and delicious. I thought it might be improved by adding a few frozen berries to the jam. (From the frozen food cabinet in Tesco. Great bargain) It is but jam will do just fine.

Serves 4

400ml whole milk
Finely grated rind of 1 small unwaxed lemon
15g butter
25g caster sugar
80g fresh breadcrumbs
2 large egg yolks
3 tbsp raspberry jam
125g fresh or frozen raspberries or mixed small berries
For the meringue
2 large egg whites
110g caster sugar

You will need a lightly greased small to medium-sized shallow oven-proof dish about 850ml (1 1/2 pints) in capacity

Pour the milk in a saucepan, add the lemon rind and stir then place over a low heat until the milk is hot but not boiling. Add the butter and caster sugar and leave a couple of minutes until melted then strain the milk over the breadcrumbs. Stir and leave for 20 minutes. Meanwhile heat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas 3. Beat the soaked breadcrumbs then beat in the egg yolks and tip the mixture into the greased pie dish. Place the dish in a roasting tin of water and bake for about 45 minutes until the top is lightly set. Take out of the oven. Put the jam in a small saucepan with the frozen fruit, warm through and spread gently over the pudding without breaking the surface. Whip the egg whites until stiff then whisk in half the sugar until the mixture is thick and shiny. Fold in the remaining sugar and spread evenly over the pudding. Put the pudding back in the oven and cook for a further 15-20 minutes until the meringue is golden brown. Serve straightaway.

A tip. Look out for old fashioned Pyrex dishes in charity shops. They’re perfect for cooking a dish like this.

A warning. This technique creates a soft meringue that is only part-cooked and may therefore not be suitable for pregnant friends or grannies

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