This traditional English pudding is quintessential nursery food – nurturing, soul-warming and economical. Feel free to replace the mixed berry jam with raspberry, plum or strawberry to ensure the sweet but subtle middle layer suits your tastes.
- 500 ml (2 cups) milk
- 55 g (¼ cup) caster sugar
- 30 g butter, diced
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 5 egg yolks
- 2½ tsp natural vanilla essence or extract
- 150 g (2½ cups, lightly packed) fresh white breadcrumbs
- 85 g (¼ cup) mixed berry jam (see Baker’s Tips)
- 1 tbsp icing sugar, to dust
- 3 egg whites
- pinch of salt
- 110 g (½ cup) caster sugar
- 1 tsp natural vanilla extract or essence
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Standing time 15 minutes
Cooling time 20 minutes
Put the milk, sugar, butter and lemon zest in a medium saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the butter melts. Use a balloon whisk to whisk the egg yolks in a medium heatproof bowl until smooth. Gradually add the warm milk mixture, whisking constantly until well combined. Stir in the vanilla and breadcrumbs.
Pour the custard mixture into a shallow 1 litre (4 cup) ovenproof dish. Set aside for 15 minutes for the bread to soak up some of the custard.
Preheat oven to 170ºC (150ºC fan-forced).
Place the ovenproof dish into a roasting pan or larger ovenproof dish. Add enough boiling water to the roasting pan or larger ovenproof dish to reach halfway up the sides of the dish with the custard mixture to create a water bath or bain-marie. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until the custard has almost set but still wobbles slightly when touched on the top. Remove from the oven and remove the custard dish to a wire rack. Set aside for 20 minutes or until cooled slightly (stop here if pre-preparing your pudding, see Baker’s tips).
Increase the oven temperature to 190ºC (170ºC fan-forced).
To make the meringue, use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to whisk the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. With the motor running, gradually add the sugar, a spoonful at a time, and whisk until the sugar has dissolved completely and the mixture is thick and glossy. Whisk in the vanilla.
Carefully spread the jam over the top of the custard (see Baker’s tips). Spread the meringue mixture over the jam to cover, swirling as desired.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes or until the meringue is lightly golden (see Baker’s tips). Serve immediately.
• If your jam is a little thick you can warm it in a small saucepan over a low heat, stirring often, until runny, to make it easier to spread.
• You can cover the bottom of the roasting pan or larger ovenproof dish with a folded tea towel to stop the dish with the custard sliding around when transferring it to and from the oven.
• You can make this pudding up to the end of step 4 (note in method) up to 2 days before serving. Stand the puddings at room temperature for 30 minutes before continuing with the recipe.
• You can caramelise the meringue topping with a blowtorch instead of baking it a second time for a more ‘dramatic’ effect if you wish.
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Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Sarah O’Brien. Food preparation by Kerrie Ray. Creative concept by Lou Fay.
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