(*In my experience they’re often called Alice.)
It’s cheerful. It’s calming. It’s adds a little dash of sparkle to the bland grind of a day.
And more than anything, it’s self sufficient.
Once you’ve pulled the complimentary components together these puddings just need to sit in a bath in the oven for half an hour. When they come out they’re ready to play.
You can have them piping hot or let them cool. Whichever way you will still get a crackle of nuts. A fluffy top of sponge. And at the bottom there’s the surprise of a silky puddle of lemon sauce.
A pudding that makes its own sauce is a very clever thing indeed.
I first made these puddings in honour of one of our perfect house guests.
NB We’ve been lucky. We’ve never had any bad house guests- but I’ve heard stories. There are those who eat you out of house and home. Those who bring filth and illness along with flailing suitcases. Others who collect an army of drunken hoards- who then eat you out of house and home. There are some who might make a move on your partner. And then there are others who just can’t play nicely with anyone.
Conversely, a guest who can roll off a 10 hour flight, negotiate two suitcases across three crowded underground lines and still greet you with the enthusiasm of a puppy and before saying ‘so, should we go and try some coffee?’ – is a keeper.
Then there are other attributes which make their presence a seemless and cheerful addition to any household.
If they have their own schedule, but can fold into whatever is on yours, that’s great.
(Even if that means coming to watch terrible films with you -a task that is much harder when their job is as a brilliant film critic.)
If they’ll get excited about the mundane task of trekking to the local wine vendor to refill the household ‘flagon’ of pink wine, then that’s even more amazing.
And if they bring gifts and tales of home, including warm tidings from your god mother, then that’s a veritable constellation of sunbeams, show tunes and all that is good.
We first ate these puddings after a dinner of chicken thighs roasted with garlic, chilli, cumin, cauliflower and chickpeas. We may have had a couple of glasses of pink wine.
The three of us sat around in our small flat in London and said cheers; to old friends and this charming combination of lemon, blueberries and almonds.
Just like The Hungry One, Alice and I- this is a very happy trio.
Self sufficient lemon, blueberry and almond puddings
2 large mixing bowls. 1 electric whisk. 4-6 ramekins, or 1 20 cm diameter pudding basin. 1 baking tin half filled with water.
60 grams butter
180 grams caster sugar
20 grams almond meal/ ground almonds
3 eggs, separated
60g self raising flour flour, sifted
250ml milkHalf a cup of flaked almonds
3 medium lemons, zested and juiced
(You will need about three quarters of a cup of lemon juice. NB, the zest of three lemons will give a very lemon flavoured pudding. You might want to add the zest of two, taste the mixture and then if you’re comfortable with boosting the lemon flavour, adding the zest of the third).
1 cup of blueberries
Vanilla ice cream (optional)
Here’s how we roll
1. Preheat the oven to 180 C or 350F.
2. Beat the butter and sugar together until they are pale and creamy.
4. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest and the milk and mix together well.
5. Sift in the flour and almond meal. Mix gently together.
6. Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until they are firm.
7. Gently fold the two mixtures together in two batches.
8. Lightly grease the ramekins or pudding dish. Pour the mixture into the ramekins/ pudding dish and top with flaked almonds.
9. Place the ramekins/ pudding dish into a larger oven proof baking tray. Fill the tray with hot water so it comes half way up the sides of the ramekins.
10. Bake the ramekins for 25-30 minutes (35-40 for the larger pudding dish) until the top is lightly browned. Beneath there will be a gooey lemon curd sauce.
11. Serve with blueberries and vanilla ice cream.