Rose Prince's Baking Club: Queen of puddings

Date:09-04-2014 07:58:05 read:2

Rose Prince's Baking Club: Queen of puddings

Our weekly column shows you the way to beautiful bread and consummate cake. Today: Queen of puddings

A fine mess: Queen of puddings  Photo: Andrew Crowley

I had better begin this week’s column with an apology for the state of the pudding, pictured. It’s a mess. There was nothing much our esteemed beautifier of Baking Club subjects, the photographer Andrew Crowley, could do. No scallop-edged dish or embroidered napkin can enhance a pudding that looks like it has been dropped on the floor.

But that is the point. British cooks make a good mess. Think Eton mess, a smash-up of meringue, berries and cream. Think sloppy summer fruit fools, and don’t forget crumble… If the simmering juice of the underlying fruit is not making a bid for the surface, and the edges of the dish are not tarnished with heat, it probably isn’t a good one.

Queen of puddings is a famous mess. When you dig into its layers of egg custard with toasted breadcrumbs, jam and soft, part-cooked meringue, there’s a general meltdown.

Never mind, the whole point of messy puddings is that they are likely to taste much better than anything structured. Have you ever come across diplomat’s pudding? It’s a kind of gelatinous mousse caged in sponge fingers, and as close as pudding can get to a stuffed shirt. In fact, what is so diplomatic about serving such a stiff pudding to the diplomatic corps? A splodge of gooseberry fool on a silk tie might break the ice at the ambassadress’s dinner parties.

Queen of puddings is a variation of the custardy Manchester pudding. Neither can be described as a needless mess, since they make use of leftover bread. That is a weak excuse for a pudding, but then you do not really need one. Make it for Sunday lunch, and everyone will fall silent with happiness.

Serves 8


Ceramic or glass heatproof dish, 25cm/10in in diameter, buttered. A piping bag, or strong freezer bag.


600ml/1 pint creamy milk

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 level tbsp caster sugar

3 eggs, separated

85g/3oz breadcrumbs

¼ tsp grated nutmeg

Zest of one lemon

For the meringue

3 egg whites

205g/7¼oz icing sugar

4 tbsp raspberry or other soft fruit jam – choose a runny, low-sugar preserve, such as Bonne Maman, rather than a solid, sugary jam.

Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas mark 3. Heat the milk with the sugar and vanilla to boiling point. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl and pour over the milk, whisking all the time. Pour the mixture into the serving dish through a sieve, sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and give a little stir to distribute them. Put the dish in the oven for 20-25 minutes until it is just set but wobbly in the centre. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Put the egg whites in a bowl and sift in the icing sugar. Whisk, using an electric beater, for 6-7 minutes until stiff. Spoon the mixture into the piping bag or freezer bag. If using the latter, snip off the corner of the bag to form a nozzle.

Turn up the oven temperature to 220C/450F/gas mark 8. Lightly spread the jam over the surface of the custard in the dish to create an even layer. Pipe the meringue in a lattice or in messy swirls. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes until the surface is lightly browned. Remove from the oven; allow to cool for 20 minutes, then serve.

Next week: lemon and orange drizzle loaf cakes. You will need: eggs, caster sugar, lemons, butter, double cream and flour.

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