Queen of Puddings – or desserts?

This is an appeal to any British people that are reading this.  Jenny, Vicky are you out there?  I’m confused, what’s with the name?  This dish does not seem to contain an ounce of pudding.  At least pudding as I understand it.  Are we referring to the course in the meal or the type of dish? As far as I can tell there is some kind of secret code in the UK for when and where you say dessert or pudding.  Oh, what I wouldn’t give for a direct line to Mel and Sue right now.

And while I am on the topic of the etymology of this dish the BBC has some explaining to do.  The little blurb describing this recipe says “Mary Berry’s step-by-step recipe for this retro British pudding of custard, cake and jam topped with soft, chewy meringue.” Now I know this isn’t a lost in translation moment, there is simply no cake in this dish.  Oh well, cake or no cake, pudding or dessert, I’m just here to bake it.

For this bake I cut the recipe in half again simply because in the span of three days I baked and or consumed doughnuts, pizza, butter tarts, sourdough bread and now the Queen.  So I got out my mini pyrex dish and got to work measuring out my ingredients.


Confession time.  The whole time I have been doing this challenge I have not once bought full-fat milk nor have I used regular milk.  I have brazenly been using 1% lactose-free milk.  Gasp! I know I am risking not only the authenticity of the recipes but also the flavour and outcome.  Well to that I say, too bad!  I feel sick when I consume too much lactose (I’ve even been known to use lactose-free butter – gasp number 2) and I do not have the budget or patience to buy 50 million (or two) kinds of milk, cream and butter every week.  Phew, I feel so much better now that my secret is out.  Also, I have to give props to all the lactose-free products out there because I don’t think any of my many failures can be attributed to lack of lactose.  So, way to go Lactancia and Natrel and any other brands out there.

Now back to your regularly scheduled bake.  I used my favourite food processor and made my bread crumbs and heated up my milk *wink wink* and added in my butter and sugar.  I have several batches of ice cream to thank for my successful incorporation of the milk to the egg yolks. I poured the custard over the bread crumbs and let it rest.


I love any recipe that calls for letting things rest for 15 minutes because I read that as “now take these next 15 minutes to do the things you probably should have already done”  ie. preheat the oven. Since my last encounter with a bain maire, I have learned that my roasting dish takes two full kettles of water to get to the right depth so while I was preheating my oven I also boiled the water.  I was in control.  This bake was going to be a success I could tell!

In no time at all, it was time to put the custard into the oven to bake.  18 minutes later I casually check the oven and my optimism was tested.  I had forgotten that a smaller dish meant shorter baking time so I was on the verge of over baking my custard!  If I was looking for a wobble I was past that point.  The custard was very sturdy.  But I didn’t get any cracks so I think I avoided disaster.


I took another short cut with the jam layer, instead of making my own I used my mom’s jam again. How could I not, it’s sooooo good!  I used a mixture of strawberry and raspberry since my precious jar of strawberry ran out (Mom can I have another please?) I made sure to cover every millimetre of custard with jam so you could see the layers through the dish.


With the first two layers complete it was time to make the meringue.  I have mentioned in the past my propensity to over beat my egg whites so I used my hand mixer and took lots of breaks to check the peaks.  I think I nailed it.


Adding in the sugar is the fun part as you get to watch it go from dull and bubbly to glossy and smooth.  I had grand intentions to pipe nice dollops on top but I didn’t ration my meringue properly so I had to settle for sort of swirling it around with my spoon.

I put the whole thing back in the oven to cook the meringue.  The recipe calls for it to bake for another 25-30 minutes but I was anxious about my too solid custard so I took it out after 20.  It probably could have done with the last 5-10 minutes because it wasn’t quite crispy enough on top but it was kind of browned.


We dove into the “pudding” with royal expectations and I wasn’t disappointed.  It was really tasty.  The first portion had a lot of liquid that seeped out so it wasn’t very pretty to look at but it tasted like a lemony, jammy, delight!  Despite it being warm it felt like a summery dessert.  I was really pleased too that my custard didn’t taste eggy at all.  I got away with my lack of wobble!  I don’t know if I would call it a Queen of puddings, but a countess or duchess at the very least.

9 thoughts on “Queen of Puddings – or desserts?

  1. I’ve made a Queen of Puddings before and didn’t love it (https://musingsondinner.com/2013/05/26/baking-challenge-triple-traditional-pudding-threat/) but admittedly it wasn’t Queen Mary’s. I shall give it another go when I get to that stage of the baking challenge!

    Pudding is synonymous with dessert for many here in the UK – i.e. a sweet dish that comes after your savoury main (although it also means a specific type of dessert, often steamed and suet-based). We don’t really eat much ‘pudding’ in the American sense here. Although I live in Britain I’m not British so you will need this corroborated by someone with more authority but I believe the word ‘pudding’ (to mean ‘dessert course’) is also referred to as a ‘sweet’, but this is a regional variation (see also ‘afters’) e.g. “thanks for the roast beef, now what’s for pudding/the sweet/afters”


  2. It looks very good. I really think you have the meringue right this time! Do you need a mini blow torch to golden the peaks? I like the spoon swirling, its my go to swirl technique for Lemon Meringue pie .


  3. This looks yummy. I was picturing some sort of British Christmas pudding soaked in brandy but jam and meringue sounds much better.


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