Puddings — as we know them — are distinctly English creations. There is a school of thought that the Roman sausage was a type of pudding, and the Portuguese have their pudimand the Spanish their pudin. However, it was a new style of oven which revolutionized English home cooking and established ‘pudding’ as their sweet national treasure.

In 16thcentury England, many ordinary houses introduced small ovens built into their chimneys. The ovens were not very hot which made it possible to cook a cereal ‘pudding’ slowly.

At this time, the alternative method of cooking a pudding was by boiling. Sweet and savoury mixtures were forced into a length of animal gut, then boiled or steamed. In the 17thcentury the pudding-cloth was invented and this allowed cooks to prepare puddings at any time. A proliferation of sweet and savoury recipes resulted. They became a daily favourite with most of the English. 

During the 1800s sponge puddings and boiled and baked batters gained in popularity and by the end of the century English puddings were world-renowned.

Crumble was developed during the Second World War as a quicker method of making a fruit pie rather than using pastry. It has remained one of our favourites.


A self-saucing pudding. 

Base: 2 medium bananas, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/4 cups self-raising flour
100g butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons golden syrup
Topping: 2 tablespoons cornflour
1/2 cup each: brown sugar, golden syrup
1 1/2 cups boiling water

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 6-cup (23cm x 23cm) baking dish.

To make the base, place the bananas evenly over the base of the baking dish.

Combine the brown sugar, flour, butter, egg, milk and golden syrup. Mix until smooth. Pour into the baking dish.

To make the topping, combine the cornflour with the brown sugar and sprinkle over the top.

Stir the golden syrup into the boiling water and pour over the back of a spoon onto the pudding. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

Great served with ice cream or whipped cream. Serves 8.


Best served immediately after cooking.

Base: 6-8 tamarillos
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice
Topping: 2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon each: baking powder, ground ginger
1/4 cup milk
25g butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Peel and slice the tamarillos and place in the base of a 26cm x 17cm ovenproof dish.  

Combine brown sugar and five-spice and sprinkle over the tamarillos. Place in the oven for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs and sugar together until pale and creamy. Sift in the combined flour, baking powder and ginger. Mix in the milk and butter.

Remove the hot fruit from the oven and pour the sponge mixture evenly over the top. Return to the oven and cook for 15 minutes until the sponge is golden and cooked. Serves 6.


Any left-over crumble can be frozen.

Crumble:1 cup plain flour
100g chilled butter, diced
1/2 cup each: desiccated coconut, sugar
100g sliced almonds
Pears: pinch saffron threads
1/4 cup boiling water
6 small pears, peeled but left whole.
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
grated rind 1 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice

To make the crumble, preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a roasting pan.

Place the flour and butter in a food processor and mix until well crumbled. Tip into a bowl and add the coconut, sugar and almonds. Mix well.

Spread the mixture in the roasting pan. Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden, stirring often. Cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Makes about 4 cups. Keep any extra crumble in the freezer.

Pour the boiling water over the saffron in a bowl and stand for 5 minutes. Peel the pears but leave whole. Combine the cup of water with the sugar, lemon rind and juice in a small deep saucepan, just large enough to hold the pears. Bring to the boil and add the saffron and water. Add the pears and poach for about 8 minutes until just cooked. 

Serve each pear warm or at room temperature in a bowl sprinkled with the syrup and topped with crumble. Serves 6.


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