Saturday, July 14, 2012

St. Leonard's Custard Pudding


Here is the first recipe from my newly acquired book “The Etiquette of English Puddings” published by Copper Beech Publishing and gifted to me by my dear friend Tabby (aka talented photographer Marcie Jan Bronstein) - St Leonard’s Custard Pudding – but isn’t it really a pie or tart – here we go again with the definition of pudding! My partner James is so confused at this point – he’s always asking "…and is THAT a pudding?” Simpler to say yes Dear it’s a pudding and anything you have for dessert in the UK is also a pudding. Ah – the vagaries of pudding…


THE RECIPE
This recipe made two pies in oval dishes 6" x 4" with a little filling to spare.
          
First make the Easy Peasy crust from Let Them Eat Cake Bakers in Belfast, Maine:

EASY PEASY SWEET TART CRUST: I made 10 miniature tarts from the recipe here:
1 1/2 cups/6ozs of unbleached white flour
1/2 cup/2ozs confectioners/icing sugar
1 stick + 1 tablespoon/ 4 1/2ozs butter VERY COLD
1 large egg yolk
a tad of milk or cream if your dough doesn't stick together
1. Sift dry ingredients together into a medium sized bowl.
2. Grate the butter into the dry ingredients and rub in until like breadcrumbs.
3. Add egg yolk and blend carefully until the dough sticks together
4. Mine didn't stick together with just the egg yolk so I added baby drop by baby drop some cream until it did start to come together...be careful once it does start to come together it does so quite quickly...don't let it get sticky!!
5. Tear off pieces of the dough and push into the pie dishes until you have somewhat evenly covered them, then bob in the fridge until you are ready to use them - always keep pie crust as cold as you can and your pie crust and your taste buds will thank you most heartily!

Turn on your oven to 325F.

For the custard:
1 rounded tablespoon of white flour
2 oz unsalted butter
10 fluid ounces whole milk
2 oz sugar
Grated zest of one lemon or a good grating of nutmeg – I like nutmeg in my custard – it’s very traditional and reminds me of the custard tarts I had with a good cuppa for elevenses (eleven o’clock break)  at art school.
3 egg yolks whisked together

For the meringue: 
3 egg whites at room temperature - it's amazing the difference in the volume and texture between eggs right out of the 'fridge and room temp eggs - on really hot days though don't leave them out too long to spoil:))
2 tablespoons icing/confectioner’s sugar.

Melt the butter in a wide pan on the stove, when it is sizzling add the flour and whisk like a madman to make sure there are no lumps then turn the heat to low – gradually add the milk and whisk constantly to get a nice smooth sauce, add the sugar and continue to cook until it thickens well then take off the stove and whisk or stir until almost completely cool. When cooler stir in the egg yolks. Set aside for a few minutes while you get the pastry cases ready.

Put a nice rounded teaspoon of jam – your choice – raspberry tends to be a big fave in England – in each pastry shell and smooth evenly over the bottom.
Now fill your cases with the lovely custard – you can go almost to the brim as this mixture does not rise in the baking.
My recipe said simply bake for one hour – with no indication of temperature so I choose 325F as I didn’t want the custard to bake too fast and get rubbery.

After about 35 minutes whisk the egg whites until somewhat stiff – then add the sugar in two goes and whisk in between until stiff. After 50 minutes check to see if the custard is setting – wobble a bit and if the middle is still a bit wobbly it’s good to now add the meringue.
Remove from the oven and dollop goodly amounts of meringue on the top – as you can see somehow my meringue was not quite right because somewhere lurking either in my bowl or on my whisk was the tiniest amount of fat and that not only stops the whites from gaining their highest volume but also makes them look curdley and not perfect – to avoid this wash all our equipment in very hot water and suds and then to go the extra mile rinse your equipment with white vinegar too. Naughty me didn’t heed my own advise BUT the meringue was still tasty if a little flat and unattractive.
Return pies to oven and allow to brown nicely – should be another 10 minutes or so.
Remove from oven and allow to cool and then if you like your custard cold like me bob them in the fridge.
These ‘puddings’ were very good and I will make them again. I don’t know why they are called St. Leonard’s Puddings – the only reference I could find mentioned the town of St. Leonard in Hasting’s Sussex but thy didn’t mention why the pudding is associated with the town.

We have had a simply gorgeous stretch of weather here in Maine - dry, hot and very Mediterranean - yesterday these lilies bloomed, aren't they lovely?


And of course today is Bastille Day in France - a country where the art of pastry making is truly an ART and celebrated as such. Vive La France!

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