I’ve always wondered why no-one has written a book about the Lost Puddings of England. Or custard.
Deptford in south-east London gave its name to one such custard pudding. Henry VIII chose Deptford for his first naval dockyard, his daughter Elizabeth was born less than a mile down the road in Greenwich and it was in Deptford that Walter Raleigh threw his cloak over a puddle for his Queen, and where she knighted Francis Drake. There’s an old sailors’ song handed down from salty dog to salty puppy, “Pretty Polly of Deptford” tells of heart-breaker Polly impressing sailor Ben with her dancing. “She could work at her needle and make puddings and pies…” observes Ben, buying her a gold necklace, her granny a gown, and rescuing her uncle from debt before he asks Polly to marry him.
Deptford Pudding is a delicious lemony custard pudding, best served hot and fluffy.
6 slices of white bread, crusts removed.
2 large eggs, separated.
50g (2 oz) soft brown sugar
150 ml (6 fl oz) milk
150 ml (6 fl oz) single cream
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Zest and juice of 1 orange
Icing sugar for dusting.
I used a rectangular ovenproof dish about 25 x 20 cm, and 5 cm deep, but you could use any dish of a similar capacity.
Grease the dish and heat your oven to 180 C (350 F). Make breadcrumbs from the 6 slices of bread, I used a food processor. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together, then add the milk and the cream, whisking everything together thoroughly. Fold in the breadcrumbs, the zests and about 25 ml of the orange and lemon juice. Finally beat the egg whites till they stand in stiff peaks, folding them into the bread and milk mixture.
Pour the mixture into your dish, and put the dish inside a larger roasting tin. Fill the roasting tin with hot water so that it comes halfway up the sides of your pie dish. bake in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes, or until the custard has risen and is golden. Serve dusted with icing sugar, and perhaps with some lemon zest for decoration.