This traditional pudding can be traced back as far as the 17th Century, no doubt because it was made from kitchen staples and would have been a frugal use of old bread and bruised fruit. To stand the test of time though, it has to be made with the best quality ingredients to show how easily to hand basics can be turned into a delicious pudding. We use our local Boddington’s raspberry jam, made in Mevagissey and packed with flavor and free range eggs from Lobbs Farm Shop at the Lost Gardens of Heligan. Baker Tom’s organic white loaf is perfect for plump breadcrumbs and, with Rodda’s rich Cornish milk and butter, it means this is a celebration of the best of the county. Normally the pudding is served in one dish, but we tried it in six ramekins, smarter for a lunch or dinner party and easily packed for a picnic at the beach.
For the base
600ml/1 pint full-fat milk
25g/1oz butter, plus extra for greasing the dish
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
50g/2oz caster sugar
3 egg yolks
75g/3oz fresh white breadcrumbs – either made by grating or by whizzing the bread in a blender.
225g Boddington’s raspberry jam
For the meringue
175g/6oz caster sugar
3 egg whites
A 1.4L/21⁄2pt oval ovenproof dish that will fit inside a roasting tin or six ramekin dishes.
1. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3 and grease a pie dish or six ramekins.
2. For the base, warm the milk in a small saucepan. Add the butter, lemon zest and the 50g/2oz of sugar, stir until dissolved.
3. Lightly whisk the egg yolks in a bowl. Slowly pour the warm milk into the eggs, while whisking.
4. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the base of the buttered dish and pour over the strained custard. Leave to stand for about 20 minutes, so the breadcrumbs absorb the liquid.
5. Carefully transfer the dish to a roasting tin and fill the tin halfway with hot water. Bake the custard in the preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes until the custard has set. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool a little.
6. Gently heat the jam in a saucepan and spoon over the base.
7. Run half a lemon around a large bowl to make sure it is fat free and whisk the egg whites using an electric hand whisk on full speed until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed. Add the remaining 175g/6oz sugar a teaspoon at a time, still whisking on maximum speed until the mixture is stiff and shiny. Using a metal spoon, cover the base with the meringue.
8. Lower the oven temperature to 150C/300F/Gas 2 and return the pudding to the oven (not in the roasting tin with water) for about 25-30 minutes until the meringue is pale golden all over and crisp.
Queen of Puddings may be served hot or cold and is delicious with Cornish vanilla ice cream or clotted cream.