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