Queen of Puddings is a baked custard of eggs, milk, butter, sugar and breadcrumbs, spread with jam and topped with toasted meringue. A traditional British dessert, it was adopted by Irish cooks many years ago, probably because it is a luxurious treat made with the most inexpensive ingredients.
I love how generations past didn’t need fancy spices, herbs and rare ingredients to create delicious delicacies. The name “Queen of Puddings” implies a most decadent sweet, with no hint it is made with everyday kitchen staples, and a perfect way to use up stale bread.
Today’s recipe includes step-by-step instructions for this retro pudding of custard and jam topped with soft, chewy meringue. This is a true retro dessert, and one of my all-time favorites from my childhood.
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 and 1/2 cups of full fat milk
- 1 large egg
- 2oz butter
- 2 cups breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup sugar
- rind of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup raspberry jelly or jam
- 3 large egg whites
- 3/4 cups sugar
- pinch salt
Start by separating 3 of the egg yolks and whites. Set the egg whites aside. They’ll be used for the meringue topping.
No leftover egg whites or yolks with this recipe. The yolks are used in the base and the whites are needed for the meringue topping. Just perfect!
Next step is to make the custard base. Add the milk, sugar, butter and grated lemon peel to a saucepan. Gently heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Use whole milk. The extra fat enhances the custard.
Not all Queen of Puddings recipes call for the milk to be heated. I find this step helps to ensure the sugar is fully dissolved and the lemon flavor is evenly distributed throughout the custard base.
Be careful not to boil the milk mixture. The custard flavor will be a little burnt if the milk is scalded.
Remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to cool a little, before mixing it with the egg yolks. If the milk is too hot the eggs will curdle.
Whisk the egg yolks and one full egg together.
Pour the pre-heated, but cooled milk over the eggs, and whisk together.
Stir the breadcrumbs into the milk and egg mixture. I like to let it stand for 30 minutes so the crumbs soak up the liquid.
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Grease a 2 quart casserole or ovenproof dish, then pour the breadcrumb mixture into the prepared dish.
I like to cook the base in a “bain marie”. That’s the fancy French term for a hot water bath. Custards cook more evenly when the baking dish is placed in a larger tin filled halfway with hot water.
A common mistake when baking custard is not to put enough water in the hot-water bath. To best protect your custard from excessive heat, the water lever should reach at last half way on the baking dish.
Bake the custard in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes until the custard has set.
When it’s done the top will be springy and a light golden color. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool a little.
You can discard the “bain marie” or water bath at this stage. It won’t be needed again.
Spread the jelly, or jam as we say in Ireland, over the custard base. I like a thick layer of raspberry jam, but feel free to use strawberry or blackberry preserves.
Now it’s time to prepare the meringue topping. Whisk the three egg whites with a pinch of salt using a hand mixer. It’s ready for the sugar once firm white peaks form. Add the sugar and beat again until their surface is glossy.
Some like to use a piping bag for a very precise, decorative topping. I just like to load the meringue on top of the jam, then spread it out with a spoon.
I get carried away making a snow storm scene using the back of a spoon, that ends up looking like the Sahara dessert when cooked. Return the pudding to the oven. Bake until the meringue is golden brown in color, which takes about 20 minutes.
Cool just a little before serving. It’s delicious with hot custard or pouring cream.
This is definitely a dessert that is best served warm.
Queen of Puddings is simply a delicious, retro dessert. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Here’s the printable recipe:
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom