Folkestone Pudding Pies, Kent
This is a traditional sweet dish to be eaten at Lent, most closely associated with the Channel port town Folkestone , but well-loved enough in the rest of Kent that it is sometimes called Kentish Lenten Pie, or even Kentish Lenten Pudding Pie.
The euphonious ‘pudding pie’ derives from the fact that the dish has a pie crust at the base, and a pudding (more specifically rice pudding) filling.
As with so much traditional fare there is no one definitive recipe. Some use puff pastry for the base, some use short pastry; some would have the base baked blind prior to filling, others omit that stage.
The most important element of the thing is the filling: milk is thickened with ground rice at the ratio of one ounce of rice to roughly six or seven fluid ounces of milk previously infused with either lemon rind or bay-leaf (strained out before the milk has the rice stirred in). The thickening mixture needs constant attendance and stirring to prevent it catching or going to lumps.
For every half pint of already thickened milk stir in an ounce of butter and the same of caster sugar. While the mixture thus far is cooling beat an egg for every half pint of milk, and depending on the size of the eggs maybe one for luck. Mrs Beeton ’s recipe for this dish uses six eggs to a pint of milk, but that seems to be definitely over-egging the pudding pie.
Fill your pie dish lined with pastry with the mixture – though you can use patty-pans if preferred to make several miniature versions – and then pour the gloopy rice-thickened mixture in. Dot a few currants or sultanas (always better if plumped up beforehand by warming them gently for a minute or even less in a little sweet wine or sherry) over the top, grate some nutmeg on, (and lemon zest if you fancy but both zest and nutmeg seems de trop, indeed the filling is flavoursome without either of these embellishments), and bake at about 180 centigrade until the filling has firmed up nicely – for small pies this will be around the 20 minute mark, for a single large version twice that, or even slightly longer – judge by the firmness of the filling.