Nigella Lawson’s Queen of Puddings

This one of those traditional old school British desserts — which we call puddings — that really deserves to find favor on this side of the Atlantic too. With its rich breadcrumby custard base and meringue topping, a layer of jam between the two, this is a very aptly named dessert.

Ingredients :

  • BASE
    • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing
    • 6 ounces day-old brioche bread, cut into slices (should yield about 2½ cups crumbs)
    • 2 cups whole milk
    • 1 lemon, finely zested
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 3 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 pinch fine sea salt
    • 4 large egg yolks only (reserve whites for meringue topping)
    • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 3/4 cup plum preserves or your favorite preserves
    • 4 large egg whites
    • 1/2 cup superfine sugar, plus more for sprinkling

Preparation :

For the base:

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease the pie dish with butter.

2. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the stale brioche until it becomes even crumbs. Transfer crumbs to a mixing bowl.

3. Warm the milk in a saucepan along with the butter, lemon zest, vanilla extract, sugar and salt, just until the butter’s melted.

4. Whisk the yolks in a large bowl or pitcher, pour the warm milk mixture on top, and whisk to combine, then pour the mixture over the crumbs and leave for 10 minutes.

5. Transfer the crumb mixture into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the top is just set, the crumb-custard will still be wobbly underneath.

6. Take the dish out of the oven; the custardy brioche will firm up a little on the surface while it stands.

7. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice into the preserves: you want a soft, pourable consistency (if the preserves are too thick, simply warm them in a small saucepan). Set aside.

For the topping:

Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until they form firm peaks, then gradually whisk in the superfine sugar, until you have a thick and shiny meringue.

To assemble:

1. Pour the preserves over the crumb-custard, gently smoothing it over the top. Cover the preserves-topped custard with the meringue, making sure it comes right to the edges to seal it well.

2. Use a fork to pull the meringue topping into little peaks, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon or so of superfine sugar.

3. Put the dish back in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes until the meringue is bronzed and crisp on top. Let it stand out of the oven for about 15 minutes before serving.

Recipe courtesy of “At My Table: A Celebration of Home Cooking” by Nigella Lawson. Published by Flatiron Books © 2018.

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