We have been thinking about Queen of Puddings for Mother's Day this month, that comforting combination of custardy mixture made with baked breadcrumbs and cream, jam and meringue. However, with rhubarb at its most delicious, and St David's Day being March 1st, the variant known as 'Monmouth Pudding' (Pwdin Mynwy) seemed more appropriate. Its that hungry gap time of year so every bit of produce in the garden is precious, particularly ingredients for desserts. We grow our own rhubarbs, which is a real challenge in a garden prone to waterlogging and are doing a little forcing for the first time this year, but we also source from the 'Yorkshire Triangle', simply because it is traditionally the earliest and best quality British Rhubarb you can buy.
Rhubarb Compote Ingredients:
- 200g Fresh rhubarb, trimmed both ends & roughly chopped
- 1kg Caster sugar
- Small prig of thyme
- Small Bayleaf
- 50ml Whole milk
- 220ml Double cream
- 1 tbsp Vanilla paste
- 25g white breadcrumbs
- Caster sugar
- 5 large Egg yolks
Italian meringue Ingredients:
- 160g Egg whites, room temperature
- 170g Caster sugar
- 4 tblsp cold water
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
For the compote:
- Place all the ingredients into a heavy bottom saucepan; bring gently to the boil over a medium heat dissolving the sugar, stir occasionally but always keep a close eye so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.
- Once boiling, reduce the heat slightly and leave to simmer for a further 10 minutes or until the liquid has halved.
- Then set aside to cool.
For the custard:
- Heat the milk, cream and vanilla to scalding point in a heavy bottom pan. Then add the breadcrumbs.
- While the milk/cream is heating, in a large mixing bowl whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until light & pale in colour.
- Then add half the hot milky mixture to the eggs and sugar and mix well.
- Add the rest of the mixture and whisk together until fully incorporated.
To cook the base:
- Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees celsius/320 Fahrenheit/gas mark 3.
- In each ramekin place a generous dessert spoon full of the rhubarb compote, then fill each one with the custard mix.
- Place the puddings in a deep baking tray and fill with hot water half way up the ramekin.
- Cover with parchment paper and bake in the oven for 25/30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven when ready and leave to cool
For the Italian meringue:
- Place the sugar and water into a small, heavy bottom pan and cook over a high heat until the sugar has dissolved and reaches 240 degrees Fahrenheit or ‘soft ball’ stage on a sugar thermometer.
- While the sugar is heating, with an electric whisk, beat the whites to soft peaks.
- When the sugar and whites are ready, incorporate the hot sugar slowly and carefully into the egg whites. Whisking continuously as you add to create a thick glossy meringue.
- Once all sugar is added, add the lemon juice and whisk gently until cool.
- When cool transfer the Meringue to a piping bag and pipe onto each of the puddings.
- Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees celsius.
- Place the puddings onto a flat baking tray and bake for a further 3-4 minutes, middle shelf, until meringue is golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and serve immediately.