Last month, a competition to discover a new pudding fit for The Queen was launched. We take a look at some of the best British puds to date – many of which stretch back hundreds of years.
So, as the nation dons its apron and sets forth undaunted, whisk in hand, we look back at some of the best of the best traditional puddings from around the British Isles. Our bakers have their work cut out to best this tasty lot.
Sussex Pond Pudding
Prue Leith/ Great British Chefs
First recorded in Hannah Woolley’s 1672 book, Queen Like Closet, tucking into a really good Sussex Pond Pudding is like diving into a deliciously warm comfort blanket. Made with a suet pastry, it encases a whole lemon which, almost candied after steaming, spills its juices out to form the eponymous pond in which the pudding sits. We swear by Prue Leith’s vegetarian version which is fool-proof. Serve piping hot and revel in the warm buttery goodness. Find the recipe here.
Bread & Butter Pudding
It is hard to imagine a more comforting dish than bread and butter pudding. Who doesn’t crave buttered bread dotted with raisins, covered in custard and then baked through the winter months? Having started life as ‘whitepot’, the dish would then have used bone marrow or butter interchangeably. One of the earliest published recipes appears in Eliza Smith’s The Compleat Housewife in 1728 and now, even nearly 300 years later, the technique remains little changed. We like Gordon Ramsay’s classic example. Find the recipe here.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
We always have time for a retro pudding. And yet this 1970s classic goes back a little further than its most recent heyday. Once referred to as ‘skillet cake’, having been made on cast-iron skillets on the stove, it is thought to date back to the Middle Ages. Moist and delicious the beauty is that you can make it with a great variety of in-season fruits (it’s practically a health food). As Annie Rigg for the BBC notes, this is a great make-ahead pud to serve with cream or ice-cream. Find the recipe here.
Winter Berry Trifle
Who remembers the episode of Friends in which Rachel knocks up her debut trifle with layers of beef? Although historic British puds have been known to feature the odd meaty ingredient that modern tastes might baulk at, we can happily report that trifle has always eschewed such eccentricities and stuck fast with the good stuff: custard, fruit and alcohol, with the occasional cameo from jelly. The first recorded use is in 1585 in Thomas Dawson’s The Good Houswife’s Jewel. All these centuries on, it unfailingly looks the part, and we still have plenty of space for it at our table. This recipe, from Olive Magazine, offers an excellent twist on the classic. Plus, you can make it ahead and, well, everyone loves a good trifle. Find the recipe here.
Rice Pudding With Golden Syrup
The Tudors were big fans of the rice pudding – and the simple, inexpensive recipe has been a staple ever since. And yet today, it is too-often associated with the dreaded school dinners of youth. We say, however, it is time to reclaim this gloriously comforting pud, which is simple to make and never better than when slight charred at the edges and drenched in golden syrup. Roy Brett’s granny’s vanilla-flavoured recipe, shown here, was so inspirational that he cites it as the dish that made him want to become a chef. And whilst rice pudding certainly has a long British tradition, it is also served on almost every continent in some variety. You can’t argue with a pudding beloved of the whole world. Find the recipe here.
Nutty Plum and Sloe Gin Crumble
Is Sunday lunch really Sunday lunch if it doesn’t feature a good fruit crumble to round off the whole affair? And yet, unlike many others on this list, it is a relative newcomer, having only been popularised in the Second World War, when rationing made the more lavish pie harder to make due to food shortages. The crumble topping, by contrast, was much more economical. We love the tartness of the fruit set off against the sweetness of the crumble. Although apple is and always will be classic, this nutty plum and sloe gin take is a truly special take. Find the recipe here.
By Nancy Alsop
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