This week on the Great British Bake Off (GBBO) saw the contestants having to bake puddings. In my dialect of English, ‘pudding’ refers to anything that you eat after your main course of a meal, whether it be a traditional sponge pudding, a cake, a chocolate bar, or even a yoghurt or a piece of fruit. Others may think of this as ‘dessert’ or ‘afters’ or something else. For the GBBO, pudding definitely referred to traditional puddings – the first bake was the contestants’ own choice of sponge puddings (two varieties of six individual puddings), the second was a ‘Queen of Puddings’ (not my thing as it contains custard, yuk!), and the third was a Strudel. The second and third looked extremely hard to make, especially the pastry for the Strudel, which had to be rolled out to be paper thin. I decided to stick with what I know best for this week, and make some sponge puddings. I used to make proper puddings quite a bit when Tom and I were first together (the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach?!), but recently I haven’t make them, particularly since being pregnant (both times) and not wanting anything too sweet and stodgy.
With that in mind, I went for a relatively light and not too sweet option. I used margarine instead of butter, so the consistency was light and fluffy. The blueberries were quite tart, and that blended well with the sweetness of the white chocolate, so neither flavour overpowered the other and it was a good balance of sweetness. I love the colour that blueberries give to cakes and puddings – more of a purple than a blue, to my eyes at least, and it gives an otherwise plain-looking sponge a ripple of bright colour running through it. Here’s the recipe if you fancy giving it a go – it’s very easy!
120g self-raising flour
100g white chocolate, cut into chunks
Preheat the oven to 180ºC (fan)
Cream the margarine and sugar together in a bowl.
Beat in the eggs until the mixture is smooth and not lumpy in texture.
Add the flour and stir until well combined.
Add the blueberries and white chocolate, and stir until evenly distributed, but don’t over-mix the mixture.
Spoon the mixture into 6 individual pudding basins, so they are about two thirds full.
Place the basins into a large ovenproof dish, like a roasting tin. Add cold water to the roasting tin so that the basins are sitting in a bath of water (in techie baking speak this is called a ‘Bain Marie’, and it means that as the water heats up in the oven, the steam produced helps keep the puddings moist).
Bake for about 30 minutes, until the top is golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Leave to cool, and then remove from the basins. Eat as fresh as possible, but can be heated up in the microwave if eaten later.
Crumbles are one of my favourite puddings, especially on a cold day to warm and fill me up, there’s nothing like it. A while ago I came across a vegetable crumble in a magazine, and I was intrigued to know what it was. Was it one of these sweet puddings that you put vegetables in, like carrot or courgette cake that are all the rage these days? No, it was a savoury crumble, with vegetables in sauce as the base, and breadcrumbs and oats for the topping. I thought it looked appetising, but couldn’t help thinking that it wasn’t actually what I’d call a crumble – it didn’t have the classic ‘crumble’ topping that makes a crumble a crumble (wow, lots of mentions of crumble there – can you tell I love them?!) So I thought, I know, I’ll do my own, and do a similar base to the magazine’s suggestion, but use a classic crumble topping of butter and flour (but no sugar) rubbed together to make a breadcrumb like texture before baking.
That was a while ago, and since then I’ve done various fillings with whatever we happen to have in the fridge and cupboards. Just recently I came up with what I think is my best yet, so I thought I’d share it with you on the blog. It’s also a very toddler-friendly food, as the crumble tends to get mixed up with the veggies when served, so it’s a good way to encourage vegetable eating with a tasty starchy topping that will go down easily. Not that we have problems with vegetable eating (yet! I’m not taking it for granted, I know fussy stages happen), but it’s still a good idea to have up my sleeve in case. The lentils give the base a lovely thick texture, and provide protein in a veggie dish (something I’m very aware of as I eat very little meat and no red meat). So here’s the recipe. This would feed about 4 adults, or two adults and a toddler for dinner and then a yummy leftover lunch the next day.
300g plain flour
cumin seeds (or any other herb/spice that you’d like to use)
75g mature cheddar, grated
120g dried red lentils
1 parsnip, cubed
half a large butternut squash, cubed
1 courgette, cubed
500ml reduced salt vegetable stock
3 tbsp olive oil
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Fry the cubed parsnip and squash for about 5 minutes until starting to brown. Add the courgette and continue to fry for a few minutes.
Rinse the lentils and add to the pan.
Add the stock, bring to the boil, and simmer for a few minutes. Take off the heat.
If you feel confident enough, make the crumble topping whilst keeping an eye on the vegetables frying. If not, wait until you’ve completed stage 3 (I tend to flit between one thing and another quite easily, but Tom is of the finish each stage one at a time before starting the next school of cooking). Rub the margarine and flour together until you get a texture that resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in some cumin seeds (or other herbs/spices) to taste.
Pour the veggie filling into a large ovenproof dish. Spread the crumble topping over the top.
Bake in the oven at 180ºC for about 30 minutes until golden. About 10 minutes before the end, sprinkle the grated cheese over the top and leave to melt and brown off in the oven.
Serve as an all in one dish – vitamins, fibre (vegetables), protein (lentils, cheese) and carbohydrate (crumble topping) all together!