"This has become my family's Christmas pudding," says Sibley. "As we celebrate Christmas in summer in Australia, when stone fruits and berries are in all their glory and panettone graces the shelves of the Mediterranean delis, I bring these flavours together in a festive, fruity, warm but fresh pudding more suited to our climate. Lemon verbena thrives in summer and imparts a delightful flavour that has an affinity with peaches. I suggest you get your hands on a plant."
- 250 ml milk (1 cup)
- 500 ml thickened cream, plus extra to serve (2 cups)
- 200 gm egg yolks (about 6)
- 1 egg
- 150 gm caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
- 1 cup lemon verbena leaves, plus extra for garnish (see note)
- 5 ripe yellow peaches
- For greasing: butter, softened
- 1 plain 750 gm panettone
- 500 gm raspberries
- 1Preheat the oven to 150C.
- 2Bring the milk and cream to the boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir the egg yolks and egg in a heatproof bowl to combine, then add the caster sugar. Add to the hot cream mixture, a little at a time, whisking continuously. Scrunch the lemon verbena leaves and add to the mixture. Then remove from the heat and allow to infuse for 10-15 minutes.
- 3Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and have a bowl of iced water at hand. Split the peaches down the middle and remove the stones. Plunge the peach halves into the boiling water briefly, then drop into the iced water. Slip off their skins and slice each half into 3 wedges.
- 4Butter a 2.5-litre baking dish generously with butter, then dust with a little caster sugar. Slice the panettone and arrange in the dish. Disperse the peaches between the layers of panettone, then strain the custard mixture over and allow to soak for about 20 minutes, or until the panettone has soaked up the liquid. Put the baking dish in the oven and cook for 30 minutes, or a little longer if the custard is still liquid.
- 5To serve, scatter the raspberries and additional lemon verbena leaves over the warm pudding and serve with some thickened cream on the side.
Note Lemon verbena leaves are available from specialist grocers. This recipe is from New Classics ($49.95, hbk) by Philippa Sibley, published by Hardie Grant Books. It has been reproduced with minor GT style changes.