Nigella's queen of puddings
I wasn’t brought up on nursery food, so this sort of old-fashioned English pudding holds a certain exotic charm for me. Traditionally, a queen of puddings is made with breadcrumbs, but this is the Marie Antoinette version, using brioche instead.
Equipment: You will need a 1.5 litres/2¾ pints oval pie dish, approx. 28x20x5cm/11x8x2in
- 150g/5½oz brioche, cut into slices and left to go stale (see recipe tip)
- 50g/1¾oz unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing
- 500ml/18fl oz full-fat milk
- 1 lemon, zest and juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 25g/1oz caster sugar
- pinch fine sea salt
- 4 large free-range egg yolks (whites reserved for meringue topping)
- 175g/6oz plum (or other) jam
For the topping
Grease your pie dish with butter and preheat the oven to 170C/150C Fan/Gas 3½.
Put the brioche slices into a food processor and blend into crumbs then place in a mixing bowl.
Gently warm the milk in a saucepan with the butter, lemon zest, vanilla extract, sugar and a pinch salt, until the butter’s melted.
Whisk the yolks in a large bowl or jug, pour the warm milk mixture on top and whisk to combine, then pour this over the crumbs in their bowl and leave for 10 minutes, before transferring to the greased dish. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the top is just set, although the crumb-custard will still be wobbly underneath. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Whisk 2 teaspoons lemon juice into the jam in a small bowl: you want a soft, pourable consistency. If the jam’s too thick, warm it in a small pan. Set aside while you get on with the topping.
Whisk the egg whites in a grease-free bowl until they form firm peaks, then gradually whisk in the sugar, until you have a thick and shiny meringue.
Pour the lemon-spritzed jam over the crumb-custard, gently smoothing it over the top. Cover the jam-topped custard with the meringue, making sure it comes right to the edges to seal it well. Use a fork to pull the meringue topping into little peaks, and sprinkle with a ½ teaspoon or so of caster sugar.
Put the dish back in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes until the meringue is bronzed and crisp on top. Let it stand for about 15 minutes before serving.
Of course, in the normal run of things, I don’t have stale brioche lying about, but you can quite easily stale it by leaving the slices on a wire rack for a good few hours or overnight. If time is pressing, put the slices on a wire rack sitting in a roasting tin, and heat in an oven preheated to 100C/80C Fan for 10–15 minutes. I tend to stale and crumb a whole brioche loaf at a time. American cup measures help here, as 2½ cups provide enough for each pudding (or fill a measuring jug up to the 600ml/21fl oz mark). I then freeze the crumbs, so measured, in tightly sealed bags in eager readiness to make this.