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25 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 31 January 2010

A celebration of British puddings. Not food but medicine, according to food writer Nigel Slater. There to heal and comfort, to cosset and hug.

Simon Parkes explores why Britain has excelled at producing puddings through a heritage going back to the Norman Conquest. Mary Norwak, author of English Puddings, explains her passion for trifle, while food writer and publisher Tom Jaine outlines the development of the sweet pudding through history. But how do the shop-bought selections measure up? Award-winning company Manna from Devon explain the success of their hand-made and home-made puddings.

  • English Puddings Sweet & Savoury by Mary Norwak

    English Puddings Sweet & Savoury by Mary Norwak published by Grub Street, ISBN 978-1-906502-48-5

  • Two recipes from English Puddings Sweet & Savoury by Mary Norwak

    Edwardian Trifle

    The prosperous Edwardians finally evolved the trifle in all its glory as we know it today. This version comes from a family recipe book and I always make it at Christmas time. It is very rich indeed, and must be made with egg custard.

    Serves 8

    8 trifle sponge cakes
    8 oz (225g) raspberry jam
    ½ pint (300 ml) medium sherry
    1 pint (600 ml) custard
    4 oz (100 g) ratafia biscuits
    6 tablespoons brandy
    ¾ pint (450 ml) double cream
    1 oz (25 g) caster sugar
    Maraschino cherries
    Blanched almonds

    Split the sponge cakes lengthways and spread liberally with raspberry jam before putting together again. Arrange in a large glass serving dish, letting some of the sponge cakes come up the side if necessary, but being sure that there is only one layer of cakes. Spoon over the sherry. Cover the dish and leave in a cool place overnight. Make custard with creamy milk and eggs and leave until cool. Spoon over the sponge cakes. Arrange the ratafia biscuits in a layer on top and sprinkle with half the brandy. Whip the cream with the sugar and remaining brandy until it forms soft peaks. Spoon lightly over the ratafias. Drain the cherries very well and decorate the trifle with cherries and split almonds.
    ©Mary Norwak


    Everlasting Syllabub

    The syllabub must be started the day before it is to be eaten, as the flavours of juice and wine must blend together overnight. The best wine to use is a slightly sweet one, like Sauternes. Use a large bowl to prepare the recipe; the liquid splatters everywhere and makes a mess when whipped.

    Serves 6

    ¼ pint (150 ml) white wine
    1 tablespoon medium sherry
    2 tablespoons brandy
    Peeled rind and juice of 1 lemon
    o 1 Seville (bitter) orange
    ¼ pint (150 ml) water
    2 oz (50 g) caster sugar
    ½ pint (300 ml) double cream

    Put the wine, sherry and brandy into a basin. Peel the fruit very thinly and reserve half the peel. Put the remaining peel into the wine with the strained fruit juice. Leave the wine mixture overnight, and then remove the peel. Cut the reserved peel into hair-thin strips and put into the water in a small pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Drain off the water and keep this peel for decoration. When ready to complete the syllabub, stir the sugar into the wine mixture. Add the cream and whip until the mixture forms soft peaks. Spoon into tall wine glasses and sprinkle the reserved peel on top.
    ©Mary Norwak

  • Two cake recipes from Jane Baxter at The Riverford Field Kitchen

    Ginger Steamed Pudding

    5 knobs of stem Ginger, chopped into fine matchsticks
    5 tablespoons of Golden Syrup
    175g Butter, softened
    175g Caster Sugar
    3 Large Eggs
    175g Self Raising Flour*
    ½ Teaspoon Cinnamon*
    Teaspoon Baking Powder*
    The above need to be sifted together
    1-2 Tablespoons Milk

    Grease a 1 litre pudding bowl and line the base with a circle of greaseproof paper. Pour the Golden Syrup over the base and sprinkle with ¾ of the chopped Ginger.
    Cream together the butter & sugar before adding the eggs one by one, beating after each addition (This can be done in a food processor if required). Add the rest of the Ginger and sifted ingredients – A little milk can be included in at this stage so that the mixture is a good dropping consistency.
    Spoon into the pudding basin, cover with foil and tie with string before placing in either a steamer attachment on a pan of simmering water or an upturned saucer in a pan of boiling water (Water should come ½ way up the side of the basin). Simmer for 2 hours, topping up with boiling water if required.
    Turn out onto a plate and over extra, warmed golden syrup if desired – Serve
    © Cake recipes from Jane Baxter @ The Riverford Field Kitchen

    Queen of Puddings

    570mls Milk
    570mls Double Cream
    Splash of Vanilla essence
    110g fresh white Breadcrumbs
    110g Madeira Cake crumbs
    20g Butter
    75g Caster Sugar
    Grated Zest of 2 Lemons
    4 Large Eggs
    6 Tablespoons Raspberry Jam

    Pre-Heat the over to 140oc and ensure that you have an oven proof dish with a 1 – 2 Litre capacity.
    Bring milk & cream to the boil in a pan before removing from the heat and stirring in butter, 25g of the sugar, lemon zest, bread and cake crumbs – Leave for approx 15 minutes.
    Separate eggs and beat yolks into cooked mixture, reserving the whites. Pour the cream mixture into oven proof dish and cook in medium over for 30 minutes, until just set. Remove from the oven and increase the temperature to 180oc.
    Gently warm through the Jam and pass through a sieve to remove the seeds before spreading over the top of the pudding.
    With an electric whisk beat egg whites until just about stiff before adding 50g of caster sugar and whisking for a further minute. Spoon the meringue over the pudding and sprinkle with a little extra sugar. Bake in the oven for approx 15 minutes until the top turns golden brown - Serve
    © Cake recipes from Jane Baxter @ The Riverford Field Kitchen


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