Queen of Puddings
This is my take on the classic Queen of Puddings. For me the pudding in its traditional form is too sweet so I have toned it down with a quick jam made from fresh fruit of the season which is lower in sugar. This is a fabulous, low cost family pudding. Another fabulous idea is to halve the recipe and make 4 x individual puddings in ramekin dishes (mine measure 9cm x 5cm deep). Eat two today and freeze two once topped with the meringue. Freeze without baking the meringue then bake from frozen at 120 degrees celsius for 50 minutes to one hour. The meringue will feel crisp on the top and the pudding will be heated through.
You will need a buttered pie dish – mine is 25cm in diameter and 4cm deep (pyrex) or make a smaller pudding to serve three or four people. Use half the recipe and a shallow ovenproof dish – mine is 20cm x 14cm x 5cm deep or make four individual puddings in ramekin dishes.
Start by making the quick jam by putting the fruit and sugar in a medium saucepan and stir over a medium heat until all the sugar is dissolved. Alternatively use my freezer jam. Turn up the heat and boil for 15-20 minutes until the jam is thick. Leave to cool completely. If using rhubarb either stew it as with the other fruits or place it in a foil parcel, pop into the oven and it will cook in about 30 minutes then mash with a fork and allow to cool.
Generously butter the pie dish or use lining paste and put to one side. Bring the milk and cream to the boil then add the zest, juice, vanilla, caster sugar, butter and breadcrumbs and stir thoroughly. I sometimes blitz my mixture with a stick blender if there are some lumpy bread pieces. Leave to stand and cool for about 15 minutes then whisk in the egg yolks. Transfer to the pie dish then bake in the oven at 180°C (Gas Mark 4, 355°F) for 20-25 minutes until set. The custard does not need to brown. (Ramekins and the smaller pudding will need 18-20 minutes in the oven)
Take the pudding dish from the oven and allow to cool slightly then when both the custard and fruit are cooled you can start to assemble the pudding. Turn the oven down to 150°C (Gas Mark 2, 300°F). Spread the fruit or jam over the custard.
To make the meringue, place the two egg whites in a roomy, spotlessly clean bowl then whisk until the whites are white and frothy. Add the sugar a tablespoon at a time and whisk well between each addition. Incorporate the cream of tartar during this process. The meringue will be shiny and standing in stiff peaks.
Pile the meringue over the jam, making sure you cover it right up to the edges of the dish. Swirl the top then pop into the oven and bake for 45 minutes until the meringue is crispy and pale golden on the top.
Can be eaten hot or cold. Individual puddings can be frozen before the meringue is baked. Bake from frozen at 120 degrees celsius for 50 minutes to an hour. The meringue needs to feel crisp on the top and the pudding will be warmed through.
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