Queen of Puddings is a traditional British Pudding, its history is somewhat sketchy however simple bread puddings account for some of the first recorded dessert recipes dating from before the 17th Century.
They may have fallen in and out of fashion overtime, however, puddings such as this one saw a revival in post war Britain meaning that many of today’s recipes date from around this time.
This is a layered pudding consisting of a base layer of breadcrumbs baked in a lemon infused custard, a layer of raspberry jam, which is topped by a layer of meringue. A recent family dinner which featured meringues with fresh cream and lemon curd sparked a conversation about desserts that reminded us of our childhoods.
Unsurprisingly the classic Bread and Butter and Rice Pudding featured heavily. What did surprise me was that the majority of our party had never heard or tasted the Queen of all the Puddings. As a pastry chef, I feel I have deprived them for far to long and the recipe, which follows is my attempt at rectifying this sad state of affairs.
This pudding truly is deserving of its royal title. However, I have made a slight change to the middle layer, replacing the jam with stewed fruit. Personally, the combination of jam and meringue is a bit too sweet so a layer of fresh rhubarb and raspberry, not only offers a perfect way to use our lovely seasonal Irish rhubarb it also offers a tartness to cut through the fluffy sweet meringue that crowns this simple but elegant dessert.
Rhubarb & Raspberry Queen of Puddings
For the Lemon Pudding
150g white breadcrumbs
800ml milk, full fat
Fine zest 1 lemon
4 egg yolks
50g caster sugar
For the Rhubarb & Raspberry Layer
6 stalks rhubarb
80g frozen or fresh raspberries
4 tbsps. caster sugar
For the Meringue Top
4 egg whites
100g caster sugar
Add a pinch of salt to your egg whites before whisking and ensure the bowl and utensils used are spotlessly clean. Grease or baking debris such as stray breadcrumbs will prevent the whites from fluffing up correctly and holding their shape.
To make the Lemon Pudding:
Place the milk, butter and fine lemon zest into a saucepan and heat until the butter has melted. Do not allow to boil.
In a separate bowl whisk together the egg yolks and 50g of the caster sugar. Place the egg whites aside for use later.
To prevent the eggs from curdling in the hot milk. Add a little of the heated milk to the eggs first and stir well. Then steadily pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan stirring all the while. Add the breadcrumbs to the saucepan, stir, pour into a greased casserole dish and leave to soak for 30 minutes, until slightly thickened.
To make the Rhubarb Raspberry layer.
Meanwhile, wash the rhubarb stalks and remove the ends. Cut the stalks into bite sized pieces. Place the rhubarb into a saucepan with 4 tbsps of caster sugar. Simmer over a gentle heat until the rhubarb has softened approx. 15 minutes. Add the raspberries and cook for a further 5-10.
To bake the Lemon Pudding:
Place the casserole dish onto a baking tray in the oven. Pour a little water into the bottom of the tray. Bake at 150○C for 40 minutes until the pudding has set.
Once the lemon pudding layer has set remove the casserole dish from the oven and spread the top with the rhubarb & raspberry.
To make the Meringue Top:
Place the leftover egg whites into a bowl, whisk lightly until just begin to foam. Sprinkle in the caster sugar gradually, whisking all the while. Whisk until the meringue has reached firm peaks. Pipe or spoon the meringue on top.
To Bake the Pudding: Transfer the casserole dish back to the oven. Reduce the temperature to 120○C and bake for a further 40-50 minutes until the surface of the meringue has crisped and the centre is still soft. Best served warm.