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Queen of Puddings


With its custard base, jam centre and fluffy meringue, this pretty, centuries-old pud reigns over more than a few hearts.

You'll need

140 gm fresh fine breadcrumbs, from white bread Finely grated rind of 2 lemons 200 gm caster sugar 225 ml each milk and pouring cream 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped 4 eggs, separated For greasing: butter   Berry jam 500 gm strawberries, trimmed and quartered 300 gm caster sugar 100 gm (½ cup) frozen raspberries Thinly peeled rind and juice of 1 lemon

Method

  • 01
  • For berry jam, combine ingredients in a saucepan, bring to the boil over medium-high heat and stir frequently until mixture reaches setting point (20-30 minutes; see note), then set aside to cool.
  • 02
  • Preheat oven to 180C. Combine breadcrumbs, lemon rind and 40gm sugar in a heatproof bowl, set aside. Bring milk, cream, vanilla bean and seeds just to the boil in a saucepan over medium heat, pour onto breadcrumb mixture and stir, then stand until breadcrumbs swell (3-5 minutes). Remove vanilla bean and discard, then stir in yolks until well combined. Spoon into 4 buttered 200ml ovenproof dishes and bake until custard just sets (12-15 minutes). Keep warm.
  • 03
  • Meanwhile, whisk eggwhite in an electric mixer until soft peaks form (3-5 minutes). Gradually add remaining sugar in a steady stream, whisking continuously until stiff and glossy and sugar has dissolved (3-5 minutes). Spread a very thin layer of berry jam over puddings (remaining jam will keep for 1 month), top with meringue and bake until golden (5-10 minutes). Serve hot.

Note To test setting point, place a few saucers in the freezer while jam is cooking. Remove jam from heat and spoon onto a cold saucer, return to freezer for 30 seconds, then push with your finger. If it wrinkles, it's ready. If not, cook jam for another few minutes, test again, remove from heat and set aside to cool.


Maybe it's the recent popularity of Tim Burton's dark and whimsical rendering of the Lewis Carroll classic, but doesn't the name Queen of Puddings sound distinctly Wonderland-esque? Take just one look at this meringue-topped, jam-sweetened beauty and it's easy to imagine how such a photogenic dessert could transform into a storybook character. White wig piled high atop a round, rosy-cheeked, sticky-lipped (as opposed to lippy-sticked) face, can't you see it?

Alice's adventures aside, this classic British pud, based on a 17th-century recipe, was created for Queen Victoria by her chefs at Buckingham Palace, and is one of the most comforting puddings you could ever hope to encounter. For a pudding fit for a queen, it's remarkably simple and uses the most basic ingredients, which, happily, you're likely to have at hand in the kitchen.

The base is made from fresh breadcrumbs, soaked in a vanilla-flecked, lemon-scented custard and baked until just set. A layer of jam is then spread over the top and the whole lot is crowned with a snowy peak of meringue. Then it's back into the oven just long enough for the meringue to turn golden and the pudding to warm through.

You can use your favourite shop-bought jam if you're short of time, but because many of them have a high sugar content, we've opted to make our own. With less sugar, the flavour of the fruit has a chance to shine, and a little tartness cuts nicely through the sticky sweetness of the meringue and the richness of the custard. All hail the Queen.

At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people

Featured in

Jun 2010

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