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Queen of Puddings

by . Featured in AT MY TABLE
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Introduction

I wasn’t brought up on nursery food, so this sort of old-fashioned English pudding holds a certain exotic charm for me. Traditionally, a Queen of Puddings is made with breadcrumbs, but this is the Marie Antoinette version, using brioche instead.

Of course, in the normal run of things, I don’t have stale brioche lying about, but you can quite easily stale it by leaving the slices on a wire rack for a good few hours or overnight. If time is pressing, put the slices on a wire rack sitting in a roasting tin, and heat in an oven preheated to 100°C/80°C Fan/220°F for 10–15 minutes. I tend to stale and crumb a whole brioche loaf at a time. American cup measures help here, as 2½ cups provide enough for each pudding (or fill a measuring jug up to the 625ml mark). I then freeze the crumbs, so measured, in tightly sealed bags in eager readiness to make this.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

I wasn’t brought up on nursery food, so this sort of old-fashioned English pudding holds a certain exotic charm for me. Traditionally, a Queen of Puddings is made with breadcrumbs, but this is the Marie Antoinette version, using brioche instead.

Of course, in the normal run of things, I don’t have stale brioche lying about, but you can quite easily stale it by leaving the slices on a wire rack for a good few hours or overnight. If time is pressing, put the slices on a wire rack sitting in a roasting tin, and heat in an oven preheated to 100°C/80°C Fan/220°F for 10–15 minutes. I tend to stale and crumb a whole brioche loaf at a time. American cup measures help here, as 2½ cups provide enough for each pudding (or fill a measuring jug up to the 625ml mark). I then freeze the crumbs, so measured, in tightly sealed bags in eager readiness to make this.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Image of Nigella's Queen Of Puddings
Photo by Jonathan Lovekin

Ingredients

Serves: 6-8

Metric Cups

FOR THE BASE

  • 150 grams brioche (cut into slices and left to stale)
  • 50 grams unsalted butter (soft, plus more for greasing)
  • 500 millilitres full fat milk
  • 1 lemon (finely grated zest, plus 2 teaspoons of juice)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 25 grams caster sugar
  • A pinch of fine sea salt
  • 4 large eggs yolks only (reserve whites for meringue topping)
  • 175 grams plum jam (or other jam)

FOR THE TOPPING

  • 4 large egg whites (from eggs above)
  • 100 grams caster sugar (plus more for sprinkling)

FOR THE BASE

  • 6 ounces brioche (cut into slices and left to stale)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (soft, plus more for greasing)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 lemon (finely grated zest, plus 2 teaspoons of juice)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons superfine sugar
  • A pinch of fine sea salt
  • 4 large eggs yolks only (reserve whites for meringue topping)
  • ¾ cup plum preserves (or other jam)

FOR THE TOPPING

  • 4 large egg whites (from eggs above)
  • ½ cup superfine sugar (plus more for sprinkling)

Method

  1. Process the stale brioche into crumbs and tip into a mixing bowl.
  2. Grease your pie dish with butter and preheat the oven to 170°C/ 150°C Fan/325°F.
  3. Warm the milk in a saucepan along with the butter, lemon zest, vanilla extract, the 25g / 3 tablespoons caster sugar and a pinch of salt, just until the butter’s melted.
  4. Whisk the yolks in a large bowl or jug, pour the warm milk mixture on top and whisk to combine, then pour this over the crumbs in their bowl and leave for 10 minutes, before transferring to the greased dish. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the top is just set, although the crumb-custard will still be wibbly underneath.
  5. Take the dish out of the oven; the custardy brioche will firm up a little on the surface while it stands, waiting.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk the 2 teaspoons of lemon juice into the jam: you want a soft, pourable consistency. If the jam’s too thick, simply warm it in a small pan. Set aside while you get on with the topping.
  7. Whisk the egg whites in a grease-free bowl until they form firm peaks, then gradually whisk in the 100g / ½ cup of caster sugar, until you have a thick and shiny meringue.
  8. Pour the lemon-spritzed jam over the crumb-custard, smoothing it – with the lightest touch – over the top. Cover the jam-topped custard with the meringue, making sure it comes right to the edges to seal it well. Use a fork to pull the gleaming meringue topping into little peaks, and sprinkle with a ½ teaspoon or so of caster sugar.
  9. 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.
  1. Process the stale brioche into crumbs and tip into a mixing bowl.
  2. Grease your pie dish with butter and preheat the oven to 170°C/ 150°C Fan/325°F.
  3. Warm the milk in a saucepan along with the butter, lemon zest, vanilla extract, the 25g / 3 tablespoons superfine sugar and a pinch of salt, just until the butter’s melted.
  4. Whisk the yolks in a large bowl or jug, pour the warm milk mixture on top and whisk to combine, then pour this over the crumbs in their bowl and leave for 10 minutes, before transferring to the greased dish. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the top is just set, although the crumb-custard will still be wibbly underneath.
  5. Take the dish out of the oven; the custardy brioche will firm up a little on the surface while it stands, waiting.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk the 2 teaspoons of lemon juice into the preserves: you want a soft, pourable consistency. If the preserves’s too thick, simply warm it in a small pan. Set aside while you get on with the topping.
  7. Whisk the egg whites in a grease-free bowl until they form firm peaks, then gradually whisk in the 100g / ½ cup of superfine sugar, until you have a thick and shiny meringue.
  8. Pour the lemon-spritzed preserves over the crumb-custard, smoothing it – with the lightest touch – over the top. Cover the preserves-topped custard with the meringue, making sure it comes right to the edges to seal it well. Use a fork to pull the gleaming meringue topping into little peaks, and sprinkle with a ½ teaspoon or so of superfine sugar.
  9. 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.

Additional Information

MAKE AHEAD / STORE:
It is not advisable to make ahead but you can refrigerate leftovers, within 2 hours of cooking, loosely covered with cling film, for up to 2 days (some syrup may form underneath the meringue, but it is fine to eat).

FREEZE:
Brioche crumbs can be frozen for up to 3 months ahead. Defrost at room temperature for 30 minutes.

MAKE AHEAD / STORE:
It is not advisable to make ahead but you can refrigerate leftovers, within 2 hours of cooking, loosely covered with cling film, for up to 2 days (some syrup may form underneath the meringue, but it is fine to eat).

FREEZE:
Brioche crumbs can be frozen for up to 3 months ahead. Defrost at room temperature for 30 minutes.

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