Dishes up some super sweet memories
Classic puddings come with a big helping of nostalgia – all the more reason, writes Matt Preston, to update them for a comforting winter of content.
THERE’S something about winter that brings out the nostalgia in me. Partly, it’s those rose-toned childhood memories of bowls of sweet steamy goodness. Rice puddings splotched with raspberry jam like the victim of a mafia drive-by, golden syrup dumplings steaming and dangerously hot, and all manner of crumbles, the surprise under the buttery crust dependent on what was in the fruit bowl or the garden that morning. With a crumble came custard, ice-cream or cream – or on a good day in that time of plenty and naïveté all three.
At school, trays were filled with sticky date puddings wallowing in caramel sauce, or with self-sauciness, whether it be chocolate, lemon or lime.
So while winter for me is a time of wistfulness for those times past, we can derive cheer from those lessons in comfort by turning them into something new for now.
Give classic rice pudding an Indian spin in the manner of kheer and add roasted cashews and tea-plumped sultanas, or saffron and pistachios, or rosewater, strawberry jam and rose petals.
SELF-SAUCING PUDDING 3.1
Make chocolate self-saucing pudding all the more fudgy by pressing pieces of Toblerone or Snickers into the sponge for the last 20 minutes of cooking. Or freshen it up Belle Hélène-style with a layer of well-drained tinned or poached pears on the base of the baking dish.
SELF-SAUCING PUDDING 3.2
I’ve talked before about adding salt flakes to your favourite self-saucing chocolate pudding, but how about stepping it by dumping the chocolate for a salty caramel self-saucing pudding? Beat an egg into 125ml of milk, 100g of browned butter and 60ml of warmed golden syrup.Add 60g brown sugar, 190g flour and a pinch of salt and mix to form a batter. Pour the batter into a heavily buttered baking dish, sprinkle it with 100g of brown sugar and 1 tbsp of cornflour, carefully pour 375ml of boiling water over the top and bake it at 180°C for 40 minutes or until golden and set on the top but still a little sloshy underneath. Sprinkle it with salt flakes and serve it with ice-cream.
CHOCOLATE FOR WINTER
I don’t want to sound like a wanker (“What, again?” you chorus), but there’s something welcoming about dark chocolate in winter. I’d even go so far as to argue it’s a winter chocolate – it goes with open fires and red wine after all. Whatever, now is the perfect time to fill a tart shell with a chocolate custard and top it with slices of pear poached in muscat and vanilla for a show-stopping baked tart. Even better if you make your own pastry case with hazelnut meal, cocoa, butter and egg.
Sticking with the dark-chocolate vibe, can I point you in the direction of the recipe that inspired me to join this fine magazine 15 years ago? It was Nigella’s chocolate pots, which have all the joy of a summer’s chocolate mousse but are in fact gently baked. Visit delicious.com.au for chocolate pot recipes spiked with everything from brandy to Baileys or, in Matt Wilkinson’s Pope Joan recipe, a nip of vodka. (Sadly, the restaurant has closed its doors to make way for an apartment block because what Melbourne needs is more apartment monoliths.)
Switch the season on pavlova by loading the whipped yoghurt and cream with orange segments (patted dry), shards of pistachio brittle (or shaved bought pistachio nougat) and finish it with a drizzle of melted dark chocolate. Pomegranate gems would also be a nice touch. Or add cocoa, orange zest, ground cardamom or orange-blossom water to the meringue. Or make like Jamie and turn yo’ trifle or cheesecake into a winter version with chocolate mousse, marshmallows, brownies and peanut caramel, or with rum and prunes.
The mug cake was the rebirth of the microwave pudding, the best of which is the 80-second passionfruit number taught to me by Icebergs chef Monty Koludrovic in a rare moment of low-brow weakness. These puddings do best as solo serves – you’ll find the recipe on delicious.com.au – but I’m close to perfecting a family-sized microwaved marmalade pudding for my next book that only takes minutes and has all the joy of the steamed variety. This – my comfort dessert of the moment – will be my legacy.
LEAVE IT ALONE
The wonder of bread and butter pudding is how stiff slices of stale bread turn into something so spectacularly decadent and satiny.And all with no more than baking the buttered bread with eggs, cream and sugar. I’ve tried spreading the bread and butter with jam, loading the pudding with chocolate chips or berries, and spiking the custard with everything from booze to lemon zest and cinnamon. Yet nothing beats the original with no more than a swag of sultanas.
For Matt’s 80-second sponge and myriad more classic puddings head to delicious.com.au.
Matt’s 80-second sponge cake. See the recipe on delicious.com.au.