This nostalgic pud is dessert royalty. A golden crown of chewy meringue sits atop layers of sticky sweet strawberry jam and creamy custard. Not only does this traditional British dessert look stunning, but it tastes divine too, and you can master it in just six simple steps.
- Preheat the oven to gas 6, 200°C, fan 180°C. Put the milk in a medium-sized pan and gently bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the breadcrumbs, 2 tbsp sugar, the lemon zest and the butter. Set aside for 15 mins to cool.
- Add the egg yolks (reserving the whites for the meringues) to the breadcrumb mixture and beat with a wooden spoon until combined. Arrange 6 x 250ml glass ramekins on a baking tray and divide the mixture between each.
- Transfer the baking tray to the oven and cook for 15 mins, or until set and lightly golden. Remove the tray from the oven and set aside on a heatproof surface. Reduce the oven temperature to gas 4, 180°C, fan 160°C.
- Meanwhile, put the raspberry jam in a small pan and gently heat until runny. Spoon the jam evenly over the puddings, spreading it out until the sponges are completely covered. Set aside while you make the meringue.
- To make the meringue topping, put the egg whites in a clean mixing bowl and beat to stiff peaks with an electric whisk. Add the remaining 60g sugar and continue whisking until the mixture is stiff and glossy.
- Spoon the meringue into a piping bag and cut a 1cm hole at the end. Pipe it over the puddings working from the outside-in, until the jam is completely covered. Bake for 5 mins, or until the peaks are lightly golden. Serve.
Whole queen of puddings: To make a whole pudding instead of individual ones, put the pudding mixture in a 1 x 1.5ltr baking dish and cook for 25 mins. Bake the piped meringue topping for 7-8 mins.
Chocolate and coconut: Replace the whole milk with a carton of drinking coconut milk. Add 50g desiccated coconut and 100g chocolate chunks to the breadcrumb mixture before stirring it into the warm milk. Scatter 15g desiccated coconut over the piped meringue topping before baking.
Cherry and madeira: Instead of breadcrumbs, use 150g of crumbled madeira cake with the sugar, lemon zest and butter. Swap the raspberry jam for cherry.
To make breadcrumbs without a food processor, use a cheese grater with wide teeth holes – just make sure the bread is slightly stale.
To separate the eggs, crack them, one at a time, into your hand over a bowl. Pass the yolk from one hand to the other, letting the white slip through your fingers into the bowl below leaving just the yolk in your hand.
Test if the meringue is ready for piping by holding the bowl with the whisked meringue upside down – if it stays put, it's good to go.
If you don't have a piping bag to hand, simply spread the meringue over the jam, creating decorative peaks with the back of a spoon.
To use a cook's blowtorch to cook the meringue, hold it 7cm away and move it quickly over the topping until caramelised – be careful not to burn the meringue.
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