I'm continuing full steam ahead on the 'comforting' theme. All those on New Year detox diets should look away now.
There is nothing like a good British pudding (by which, to save confusion, I mean simply 'dessert' and not necessarily a creamy one or indeed one steamed in a pudding basin). I adore all the classics - bread and butter pudding, jam roly-poly, Queen of puddings, apple crumble, sticky toffee pudding. All are simply divine. Faced with a dessert menu in the fanciest of restaurants I'm predictable - I'll usually go for the classic British treat over the fanciful creamy concoction. And then I'll usually be disappointed because the chefs in these fancy restaurants have come over all clever and rather than give me a simple apple crumble and custard, they've given me some apple sorbet with a crunchy granola topping. Or something equally offensive. In my favourite restaurants, the chefs know better than to mess with a good thing.
This isn't exactly a classic British pud, but many Brits may have come across in their youth. A version of this was a highlight when it appeared on the menu in the school canteen. What we have here is a light, moist sponge with a crispy, sugary top, hiding a layer of soft fruit. Most usually, this was apple. And it was called Eve's pudding. This version uses the first of the brightly pink forced rhubarb and begs for lashings of custard.
Gorgeous Desserts. I followed her basic recipe but made a few tweaks. I love the combination of ginger with rhubarb, so rather than flavour the sponge with lemon, I added a little ground ginger and cinnamon. I also grated a little orange zest over the rhubarb and cut down on the sugar added to the rhubarb.
I spotted the recipe for the dish in one of my favourite cook books: Annie Bell's
This is best served hot, straight from the oven but I found myself quite happy picking at it the next day once it has cooled.
Baked rhubarb sponge
Serves 6 (8 at a push)
600g forced rhubarb
325g golden caster sugar
1 orange - finely grated zest only
225g unsalted butter
225g self-raising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1. Pre-heat oven to 180C. Chop rhubarb into 2cm lengths and toss with 100g of the sugar. Arrange over the base of a large ovenproof dish (2 litre capacity). Finely grate the orange over the rhubarb.
2. Take 2 tablespoons of the remaining sugar and set to one side.
3. Dice the butter and cream together with the sugar until light and fluffy - use a food processor if you have one. Add the eggs gradually and mix in - don't worry if it curdles - just add a tablespoon of the flour.
4. Mix the flour with the baking powder and spices and mix slowly into the the wet mixture. Gradually add the milk and mix to a smooth cake batter. N.B. Annie Bell suggests you pop all the sponge ingredients in at once and blitz in the processor. I only read this after I'd made it the traditional way.
5. Pour and scrape the cake mixture on top of the rhubarb and smooth over the top. Sprinkle over the reserved 2 tablespoons of sugar and bake for 40 minutes.
6. When it is ready, it should be crispy and browned on top. Dish up and serve with lashings of custard!