A Queen of Puddings - No. 150
Would you expect less in tribute to Queen Elizabeth II?
A funny thing happened while researching a book on Southern baking. I learned there was a Queen of Puddings, more regal than banana, more spectacular than chocolate, just something fitting for a Queen.
I didn’t think I’d be baking this pudding until I heard the news of the Queen’s passing last week. And then I knew what I had to bake for her. It was a little out of my comfort zone, and I’m not just talking about grams and milliliters.
I’m speaking about puddings in general. We Americans have a limited pudding repertoire. They are either stirred on the stovetop and eaten when we’re feeling poorly, or they’re piled on top of bananas and Vanilla Wafers for a summer barbecue.
But to the Queen and her people, puddings are everything.
I even bought the National Trust Book of Puddings a couple years ago while visiting England. It promised ‘’50 Irresistibly nostalgic sweet treats and comforting classics.’’
‘’Pudding is deeply rooted in the British psyche,’’ the author, Regula Ysewijn writes. And ‘’it is part of what it means to be British and it has been that way for centuries.’’
The pressure was building.
This little book hadn’t been opened since my one attempt at sticky toffee pudding—a failure. Would I trust it to guide me through a Queen of Puddings? Past the obstacles of curdling eggs and billowy meringue?
I decided to see what Nigella Lawson had to say about it.
She writes that she wasn’t brought up on such nursery food. (That’s right, soft pudding-like foods you can eat with a spoon are called nursery foods. And you don’t have to be a baby to eat them.)
Her version contained brioche—a step up from the bread crumbs in the original recipe. I had some leftover pound cake, which is what happens when you’re writing a Southern baking book. Pound cake fills freezers, countertops, and now, a pudding.
The first mention of Queen of Puddings is believed to have been in Eliza Alcock’s book, The Frugal Housekeeper’s Companion (1812). You poured a lemon-scented custard into a bread-lined tin and baked it. No mention of jam or meringue.
Rachel Phipps, who lives in London and writes Ingredient here on Substack was commenting on my Tuesday post that Queen of Puddings is made in restaurants, and they often use cake crumbs ‘’to fancy it up a bit.’’ It saw a resurgence when everyone was obsessed with The Great British Bake Off.