Malvern Pudding, Worcestershire
Britain has a fantastic wealth of recipes for puddings, though sadly many of them are disappearing as we become ever more health conscious – they tend to be filling and calorific – and (foolishly) as fewer of us are happy to spend time in the kitchen. The Malvern Pudding is surely one of the dishes worth saving: it is not as highly calorific as many of its rivals, and is fruit-based so it scores on the health front; and it is pretty simple to make.
Worcestershire is of course famous for its apples – including the Worcester Pearmain with its hint of strawberry – so it is not surprising that Malvern should be the origin of this apple rich pud.
The dish is little more than stewed apple and custard really: the apples, cookers stewed with a little sugar until they are nice and soft, are put at the bottom of an oblong or oval baking dish with sides only an inch and a half or so high. A custard is prepared, flour and butter beaten together then cooked gently in a pan, warmed milk added slurp by slurp stirring the mixture all the while, then off the heat an egg yolk or two beaten with a little sugar to taste is added to the milk, and again beaten. This liquid is then stirred as it thickens over a low heat. Different cooks prefer different consistencies of custard: some go for runny, but others find thicker custard is more rewarding for the diner. The custard is poured over the apples in the baking dish and popped in a medium oven for only 20 – 30 minutes. Then it is finished off with a good sprinkling of Demerara sugar which is caramelised under a hot grill, or these days with a chef’s blow-torch. Voila. Malvern Pudding.
The above is a simple version for everyday home cooking; but cheffier versions are seen from time to time – chefs love caramelising sugar – where the apple (cooked only until softening rather than fluffy) and custard (in this case of the thicker variety) are layered several times in buttered individual pudding basins, the whole chilled before being finished with the Demerara sugar.