One of the advantages – and yes there are many – of getting older is one’s memory bank of recipes that have gone out of fashion. Recipes that have been passed down the generations for centuries are often lost in the desire for modernity. We have been so influenced by Mediterranean cooking too that many of our traditional dishes have been forgotten and much to our detriment. Pasta often replaces potatoes, our wonderful butter is shunned for olive oil, tiramisu has taken the place of old favourites like treacle tart. I well remember the puddings of my childhood; we always had one and it was the highlight of out meal. This might have had something to do with the fact that there was not the same choice of savoury foods available and the main course was often predictable, but at the same time how we looked forward to our puddings.
These were usually made from ingredients that you would find in a normal store-cupboard. Occasionally there was cream on the side but more likely custard. I don’t know if modern children are familiar with custard, but if not, they are missing out. A warm jam sponge fresh from the oven and doused with custard cheers the grimmest day. It may not be sophisticated fare, but it hits the spot. It’s a message too, that someone has taken trouble over the meal. Below are three puddings I remember from my childhood that you hardly come across these days. They deserve to be remembered.
QUEEN OF PUDDINGS
600ml/1 pint milk
Rind of 1 lemon, pared with a potato peeler
25g/1 oz butter
150g/5 oz caster sugar
75g/3 oz fresh white breadcrumbs
3 eggs, separated
4 tablespoons raspberry or apricot jam
Put the milk into a pan with the lemon rind and heat until the milk is just beginning to form a skin. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and 50g/2 oz of the caster sugar. Stir until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved and then remove the lemon rind. Stir in the breadcrumbs and leave to soak for 30 minutes.
Beat the yolks into the milk and breadcrumb mixture. Pour into a buttered ovenproof dish. Put in a roasting tin half filled with hot water and bake in a low to moderate oven Gas 3/325F/170C for 45-50 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool. Spread the jam over the surface.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then gradually add the remaining sugar whisking all the time. When the meringue is very stiff, spoon it over the jam, covering it completely, and bake in the oven at the same temperature for 30 minutes, until the meringue is golden.
LEMON SURPRISE PUDDING
The ‘surprise’ of this pudding is the unexpected sauce concealed beneath the sponge.
50g/2 oz butter, plus extra for greasing
Grated rind and juice of 2 lemons (keep rind and juice separately)
110g/4oz caster sugar
2 eggs, separated
50g/2oz self-raising flour
300ml/10 fl oz milk
Butter a 1.2litre/2 pint baking dish. Beat the lemon rind, remaining butter and caster sugar in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and flour and beat well. Gradually whisk in the lemon juice and milk (don’t worry if the mixture curdles at this stage). Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the lemon mixture and pour into the baking dish. Put into a roasting pan half filled with hot water and bake at Gas 5/375F/190C for about 45 minutes until golden. Eat at once.
CREAM AND YOGHOURT PUDDING WITH DEMERARA SUGAR
This is so easy to make it’s almost embarrassing to admit it. You can eat it on its own or with stewed fruit of the season.
300ml/10 fl oz cream
150ml/5 fl oz natural unsweetened yoghourt
Whip the cream fairly stiffly and fold in the yoghourt. Put into a bowl and strew the surface with demerara sugar, as thin or thick as you like. Leave overnight in the refrigerator.