At the Table
I have a list of favourite puddings that I love to make. In the name of vanity and good health I don't indulge myself in much pudding eating but that does not negate the fact that I have a list of favourites.
My mother made a pudding of some kind every night, and I think all the women of her generation did the same. I endured too many sago puddings and steam puddings in many guises, stewed rhubarb and plums, so these items are not on my favourite list.
Some puddings that do make my favourite list are: creme caramel, creme brulee, tiramisu, chocolate mousse, Grand Marnier souffle, gelato, lemon tart, lemon delicious, tarte tatin, apple pie, poached pears, apple and pear crisp, rice pudding, crepes, blueberry tart, grilled peaches, trifle and pavlova.
Then there is a whole raft of cakes that make the list. I have written about them before: poppyseed and orange cake, apple cake, chocolate date and almond torte, lemon polenta cake to mention a few.
This is just the tip of the ode to puddings. There are many more choices, some I forget about and then remember again and make them, delighted at the rediscovery, only to forget about them again.
It seems that people either like to bake and make desserts or they don't. I have a friend who is the consummate baker who vows and declares that the best things in life are butter and cream. Her puddings are delicious and totally memorable.
When she is upset or tired she bakes, not just simple dishes but complex dishes with many components. I am in awe of her capabilities in this department and only too happy to be the recipient of her endeavours.
Baking, in particular, is an art I think and it does have certain rules attached but once you have mastered them there is no real mystery and no reason why what you make will not be perfect.
The main rule is to follow the ingredients and proportions specified in the recipe. Don't substitute unless you really understand the consequence of doing so.
Always make sure you have all the ingredients ready before you start to assemble the dish, as in chopped, measured and at the right temperature (particularly for eggs and butter). Don't change the cooking times or the cooking vessel, use the right size pans or dishes as specified in the recipe and always measure accurately.
Weighing scales, a glass measuring cup and measuring spoons as well as a good electric beater and a whisk are essential tools of the trade.
So don't shy away from the pudding course. You do not have to make constructed, crafted masterpieces that you see in many restaurants today. Just concentrate on good flavours and textures and following the rules and once in a while treat yourself to a pudding or two.
I have chosen three simple and delicious puddings from my favourite list: apple and pear crisp, tarte tatin and lemon delicious. Lemon delicious makes its own custard which is very tasty. All these desserts should be served with a large dollop of whipped cream.
100g of butter
1 1/3 cup of sugar
4 eggs separated
8 Tbsp of self raising flour
Grated rind and juice of 2 lemons
2 cups of milk
Cream the butter and the sugar, add the egg yolk and beat well.
Add the sifted flour, lemon juice and lemon rind. Add milk slowly to the creamed mixture stirring well.
Beat egg whites until stiff, fold into the mixture and put into a greased oven dish. Stand the dish in a larger dish containing water. Bake in a moderate oven at 160C for 30 minutes.
Use a dish that is deeper than wider, that way the custard forms better. A square pyrex dish is good or you can use two pyrex loaf tins.
APPLE AND PEAR CRISP
6 tart apples or 4 apples and 2 pears
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Juice of a lemon or lime
3/4 cup flour
Pinch of salt
6 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 180C. Peel and slice the apples and pears into thick slices. Add half the sugar and the spices and lemon/lime juice. Mix well together. Lightly butter a 20-25cm baking dish and place the apple mixture into the dish.
Blend the flour, remaining sugar, salt and butter together with the walnuts to a crumbly consistency.
Spread the mixture over the apples to ensure they are evenly covered.
Bake for about 45 minutes until the crust is lightly golden.
1 sheet puff pastry
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp water
4-5 granny smith apples or you can substitute with some pears for a variation
1 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Juice of a lime
Preheat oven to 200C. Peel the apples and slice the apples into thick slices, squeeze over the juice of a lime. Mix together the flour, cinnamon and half a cup of sugar. Set aside. Melt the butter.
Put rest of the sugar in a medium sized heavy bottomed frypan with the water and stir well. Over low heat cook the sugar to a golden caramel. Take off the heat and quickly add the apples to the pan in a circular pattern. Sprinkle over the sugar mixture. Pour the butter over the apples evenly.
Fit the pastry over the top of the apple mixture and place the pan in the hot oven. When the pastry is puffed and golden remove from the oven and stand for about 5 minutes before inverting the tart onto a flat plate. Serve with whipped cream.