Next Saturday, June 11th, will see HRH the Queen celebrate her official birthday thereby giving her two birthdays each year, her biological birthday being April 21st. The Telegraph explains that the two-birthday tradition began in 1748 with King George II.
To me it seemed the perfect reason to bake and the dish which jumped into my mind was the Queen of Puddings. After all, not only is the name appropriate but it too also has a long history. GBBO's British Book of Baking, which accompanied the first series, shares a Queen of Pudding recipe which dates from 1669. The Food Timeline discusses the Queen of Pudding's history and how it compares to Manchester Pudding.
The Queen of Puddings contains three distinct layers: a custard containing bread or cake crumbs, a layer of fruity jam and a crown of delicious meringue. Never having eaten one of these historic bakes, let alone made one, I learnt through print and on-line recipes that they are straightforward and require relatively little hands on time.
A warmed milk mixture is poured onto the beaten sugar and eggs before adding bread or cake crumbs. Having left the custard mixture for a few minutes to allow the crumbs to swell it is then decanted into the prepared ramekins and baked in a water bath. Once set the custard is topped with jam and meringue before baking again to cook the meringue.
Although many Queen of Pudding recipes are made in a large dish to be
shared amongst guests, they can easily be made individual too. This not
only makes them perfect for dinner parties but also allows you to make
as many or as few as you want. I always think it's nice to have your
own individual pudding. I decided to make 4 Queen of Puddings in our
glass ramekin dishes which had been saved from a shop bought GU dessert
(it does periodically happen you know!).
Not only are the ramekins the perfect size for an individual portion,
but the transparent glass allows for the three distinct layers of the
Queen of Puddings to be seen when served. A pot ramekin would also be
good if you wanted to keep the filling a surprise.
I was keen to try our Queen of Pudding, never having eaten one before. The
pudding was delicious with all three of the elements - custard, jam and
meringue, working well together. Although it is undoubtedly nicest
eaten warm, as indicated by the recipes I read, the cold at room
temperature pudding was also not to passed up. I certainly won't be leaving
it long before I make this easy dessert again!
As these individual Queen of Puddings were made for the Queen's official
birthday I topped them with home-made bunting. I guess you could buy
mini bunting similar to this online, but wanting to keep it all homemade I
rooted out a few toothpicks, a length of cotton, some PVA glue and a
strip of colourful wrapping paper (a glossy magazine would work well
too). Personally I think the bunting really finishes them off, making
them perfect for celebrations with family and friends.
So, let's get to it and bake!
Individual Queen of Puddings Yum
Yield: 4 individual puddings
Time: hands on time about 20 minutes; plus 40 - 45 minutes bake time; soaking time 10 - 15 minutes
You will need:
4 x Ramekins (ours comfortably held 140ml)
Medium Mixing Bowl
Electric Hand Held Beaters
Piping Bag (optional)
Plain Round Nozzle (optional)
For the custard layer
1 capful Vanilla Extract
15g Butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing
2 large Egg Yolks
40g Caster Sugar
1 Lemon, zest of
85g Breadcrumbs or partially stale Cake Crumbs (I used cake crumbs)
For the jam layer
3 tbsp dark Jam, such as Raspberry, Strawberry, or Cherry (I used strawberry)
For the meringue layer
2 Egg Whites
100g Caster Sugar
Single / Pouring Cream
How to make them:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 160c / Fan 140c / Gas 3.
2. Prepare the ramekin dishes. Use a little butter or margarine to lightly grease the inside of the ramekin dishes. Wipe the rim of the dishes with a piece of kitchen roll. Sit the dishes in a roasting tin.
3. Make the custard layer. Pour the milk into a pan and add the vanilla and pieces of butter. Place over a medium heat to melt the butter and allow the milk to warm through. Meanwhile whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Add the lemon zest and mix again. Remove the warm (but not boiling) milk from the hob and pour over the egg yolk and sugar mixture whilst whisking thoroughly. Add the breadcrumbs / cake crumbs and stir together. Set aside for 10-15 minutes to allow the crumbs to swell.
4. Fill the ramekins. Spoon the custard mixture into the prepared ramekins, you're aiming for them to be about two-thirds full. Ensure each ramekin gets its fair share of the bread / cake crumbs. Pour water into the roasting tin so that it comes half way up the sides of the ramekins (I used warm water from the kettle rather than cold or boiling.)
5. Bake. Place the roasting tin and ramekins into the centre of the oven. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes until the custard is just set, with a very slight wobble in the centre. Remove from the oven and set the ramekins onto a cooling tray. Empty the water from the roasting tray.
6. Add the jam. Place the jam into a small pan and set over a low heat to slacken. Stir. Once the jam is ready use a teaspoon to apply the layer onto the custard. Use the back of the teaspoon to gently smooth it out ensuring that it butts up to the edges of the ramekin, particularly if it is glass.
7. Make the meringue. Using a scrupulously clean bowl and beaters (or balloon whisk), beat the
egg whites. Once they have increased in volume and are at the stiff
peak stage, add the sugar 1 teaspoon at a time. Continue to beat the
meringue until all of the sugar has been incorporated. The meringue
will now be glossy and thick.
8. Top the puddings with meringue. Fill a piping bag fitted with a nozzle (I used a star nozzle number 199) with the meringue. Roughly pipe some meringue onto the layer of jam. Use a pallet knife to smooth it out bringing it level to the top of the ramekins. Run your finger around the rim of the ramekin to ensure the meringue has created a seal with the dish thus preventing the jam from possibly oozing out during the second bake. Pipe rosettes on to the puddings. Alternately, spoon the meringue into the ramekins and create peaks with the back of a knife for a more rustic appearance.
9. Bake. Place the ramekins back into the roasting dish (which contains no water this time) and place in the centre of the oven. Bake for 15 minutes until the meringue is a pale golden colour. You may need to rotate the ramekins part way through the bake to achieve an even colour.
Enjoy, consider serving with single / pouring cream!
a) Ensure the bowl and beaters used for whipping the egg whites are scrupulously clean.
b) Aim to position the meringue topped ramekins well apart to avoid the meringue sticking to the meringue in neighbouring ramekins. For the same reason lift the roasting tin carefully to stop the ramekins sliding.
c) Although I used all of the meringue mixture for the four portions I was left with some custard. You may be able to make a 5th portion but you will need to be mindful of the amount of meringue each are topped with to ensure each pudding is covered.