Using breadcrumbs to thicken a custard is an old technique. You can add the warmed jam and the meringue topping when the custard is lightly set – about 25 minutes – and return the pudding to the oven for 15 minutes or until the meringue is crisp and lightly browned, but today it is fashionable to pipe a perfect snow-white meringue and serve it as is.
4 egg yolks
20g caster sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
25g butter, plus extra for greasing
80g fresh breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons raspberry jam
for the meringue topping:
4 pasteurised egg whites
225g caster sugar
Pinch of cream of tartar
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Generously butter an 18cm diameter baking dish.
Whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl. Put the milk, sugar and lemon zest in a saucepan, bring to a simmer (do not boil) and stir in the butter.
Pour a little of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks and whisk thoroughly. Gradually whisk in the rest of the hot milk until you have a smooth custard.
Put a layer of breadcrumbs in the buttered dish, then pour over the custard sauce and let it rest for 15 minutes.
Place the baking dish in a roasting tin and pour in boiling water to come halfway up the dish. Carefully place the tin in the oven and bake for 35 minutes.
Towards the end of the baking time, make the meringue topping. Using an electric whisk, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. Add the sugar a tablespoon at a time, followed by the cream of tartar, and continue to whisk until the meringue is stiff and glossy.
Remove the pudding from the oven and spread the raspberry jam carefully over the custard layer. Now either spoon the meringue over the hot pudding, or scoop into a piping bag and make fancy swirls. Use a blowtorch to give some colour to the meringue or leave it white as snow.
Extracted from The National Trust Book of Puddings by Regula Ysewijn, published by National Trust Books, an imprint of Pavilion. Illustration by Louise Morgan.