This basic Apple Crumble recipe is the perfect introduction to classic English puddings and pudding-making in general. It is very quick and easy to make, can be produced a day ahead and is great either hot from the oven or at room temperature. Pretty much everyone loves apple-based desserts – from apple pie to baked apples – so it is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser too. I love to eat it with a drizzle of double cream but you can also eat it with custard, which is probably more traditional, or with a good vanilla ice cream.
I use only cooking apples in my crumble. These are apples which will disintegrate to a mush when cooked so that you have a thick apple puree at the base of your crumble. Eating apples will retain some firmness when cooked. If you want a bit more texture to your crumble, you can use a combination of half cooking apples and half eating apples. In my view, just using eating apples for a crumble doesn’t really work as they do not give that soft, thick apple sauce that you need for this kind of pudding. Keep the eating apples for deserts such as tarte tatin where you want your apples to keep their shape.
The only flavouring, apart from apples, is cinnamon which is a classic flavour companion. The smell of warm cinnamon-spiced apples is guaranteed to make you feel warm and cosy on a cold winter’s day.
This basic Apple Crumble recipe is a classic English pudding which brings together cinnamon-flavoured apples with a crisp, buttery topping.
1 kg cooking apples (eg Bramleys)
25 to 50 g caster sugar
A little ground cinnamon
175 g butter or vegetable fat
350 g plain flour
175 g caster sugar
Pinenuts or flaked almonds
Set your oven to 180 C, 400 F or Gas Mark 4.
Peel and core the cooking apples. Cut into pieces of approximately 1 cm.
Put the apple pieces in a large baking dish (20 cm x 28 cm). Sprinkle with caster sugar. You will need between 25 g and 50 g. The amount of sugar depend on the sourness of the apples and also how sweet you like your crumble. You can taste a piece of the apple to see how sour it is. Add a little ground cinnamon.
Next make the crumble topping. Put the 350 g flour and 175 g butter (or vegetable fat) in a bowl and “rub in” using your fingers, or use a food processor, until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Then stir in the 175 g of caster sugar.
Pour the crumble topping on top of the apples.
Place the baking dish in the oven and cook for 30 minutes.
If you wish, you can sprinkle some pinenuts or flaked almonds on top of the crumble for the final 5 minutes that it is in the oven. They should get brown and toasted (but not burnt) if they are added at this stage.
You can eat your crumble hot from the oven or at room temperature. I think it is best at room temperature, not a traditional view (!), as it brings out the flavours of apple and cinnamon.
Marmalade Bread and Butter Pudding gives a citrus boost to a traditional Bread and Butter pudding. In addition to marmalade, it also includes fresh orange zest and orange liqueur which boost the citrus flavour.
I love traditional British puddings and think they are particularly well-suited to our somewhat cold and damp winters. Bread and Butter Pudding is probably one of the quickest and easiest to make. It was actually the first pudding I ever made when I was eleven in a school “domestic science” class and it has regularly featured in my children’s school cookery lessons over the years. It is the perfect pudding for children to make due to its simplicity. I make Bread and Butter Pudding a lot and it is pretty much my go-to recipe when I suddenly realise that I need to make something to follow the Sunday roast. It can be made very quickly and you are likely to have all the ingredients in your store cupboard.
This Marmalade Bread and Butter Pudding is a traditional variant on the basic Bread and Butter Pudding. It is also known as Osborne Pudding, allegedly because Queen Victoria enjoyed it when she stayed at Osborne House, her palatial holiday home on the Isle of Wight. Osborne Pudding is generally made with brown bread but I use either brown or white depending on what I happen to have available. The fresh orange zest and orange liqueur are my additions, as I think they enhance the flavour, and are not traditionally included.
Other easy puddings
I do not have a particularly sweet tooth. I am definitely a crisps rather than chocolate kind of person. However, I do love a home-made pudding. During the week, we aim to be healthy and will eat fruit or sometimes yogurt after our evening meal. However, I generally cook a big Sunday lunch, including a roast for the meat-lovers, and I will always follow it up with a pudding. During the summer, I will often go for home-made ice cream which can be made in advance, often with a floral note such as Rose Ice Cream or Lavender Ice Cream, or something involving meringue such as my Lemon Pavlova. However, in winter I will go for something with a bit more substance! That is when I will produce Bread and Butter Pudding, fruit crumble or, a particular favourite with my youngest son, Banoffee Pie.
This recipe for Easy Poached Pears is a fantastic make-ahead autumn or winter dessert. The cooking time is quite long but the preparation time is very short and extremely simple – basically you just need to peel the pears!
There is something very autumnal about pears. I love eating them just as they are. However, it is often quite difficult to get them at just the right stage of ripeness – one day they are hard and unripe and the next day they are soft and squishy! The beauty of cooking with pears is that you do not need to use ripe ones. This recipe is best made with unripe pears which then become beautifully soft and fragranced with Marsala wine, cinnamon and vanilla, during the cooking process.
Marsala is a fortified Italian wine which is generally widely available. If you do not have any Marsala wine, you could use red wine, port, cider or perry (pear cider) as alteratives.
The recipe is based on Delia Smith’s Pears Baked in Marsala Wine but I cook the pears for a shorter time and do not add arrowroot to thicken the sauce as I prefer it to be thinner.
Easy Poached Pears is a make-ahead autumnal recipe which transforms unripe pears into a sumptuous dessert through slow cooking them with Marsala Wine, cinnamon and vanilla.
6 unripe pears
600 ml Marsala
75 g caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon vanilla essence (or a vanilla pod)
Set your oven to 250 F/130 C/Gas Mark 0.5.
Remove the skins from the pears using a vegetable peeler. Take a thin slice of the base of each pear. This will give it a flat bottom so that it will stand up on the plate when it has been cooked.
Put the Marsala, sugar, cinnamon stick and vanilla essence into a heavy casserole. Heat until the liquid is simmering and the sugar has dissolved.
Place the pears in the casserole on their sides. Put the lid on the casserole and place in the oven.
Bake for 1 hour and then turn the pears so that their other side is in the liquid. Bake for a further 1 hour.
Remove the pears from the liquid and set aside in a dish to cool.
Place the casserole containing the liquid on the top of the stove and boil rapidly with the lid off for around 10 minutes. The liquid will reduce by about one third.
Place both the pears and the liquid separately in the fridge to chill. When you are ready to serve, place the pears on individual plates and pour some of the liquid over them. Good accompaniments are whipped cream or a mixture of half whipped cream and half mascarpone or vanilla ice cream.
This is a vegan recipe and can be served with non-dairy cream or ice-cream.
If you don’t have Marsala Wine, you can use red wine, port, cider or perry (pear cider) as alternatives.
This Summer Pudding recipe is an English classic. Like many old-fashioned English recipes, it was developed to make use of stale bread in times when there was an imperative not to waste food and products had a shorter shelf-life due to lack of preservatives. In the winter, Bread and Butter Pudding, was a popular way to use up bread that was past its best and in July and August, when berries were in season, Summer Pudding was the answer!
Slices of bread, dipped in berry-flavoured syrup, are used to encase a mixture of summer berries. One of the great things about this Summer Pudding recipe is that it can be adapted to the ingredients that you have available. You can use any berries that are in season but make sure that you include some currants – either redcurrants or blackcurrants – as they are needed to produce the flavourful syrup.
An easy to make, no-cook, traditional English bread pudding recipe using fresh seasonal berries.
1 kilo mixed fresh berries (NB: the mix should include some currants but otherwise use whatever you have available from: redcurrants, blackcurrants, raspberries, loganberries, tayberries, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries etc)
2 tablespoons water
170 g caster sugar
6 slices of white bread (crusts removed)
Place the currants in a saucepan together with the water and sugar. Heat until the currants have softened. This will take about 5 minutes.
Add the other berries to the saucepan with the currants and stir to combine.
Use a sieve to separate the berries from the juice.
Take a sheet of cling film and use it to line the inside of a small pudding basin. This will make it easier to get the pudding out of the basin!
Dip the slices of bread in the juice and use it to line the bottom and sides of the small pudding basin. You can fill in any gaps with small pieces of juice-dipped bread.
Pour the berries into the bread-lined pudding basin.
Cover the top of the basin with juice-dipped bread to enclose the berry mixture.
Put a piece of cling film loosely over the top of the pudding basin. Put a small saucer on top of it and use something heavy (a can of beans is perfect!) to weigh it down.
Leave the pudding basin in the fridge overnight.
When you are ready to serve, remove the cling film from the top of the pudding basin. Invert the basin onto a plate. Give it a sharp shake and remove the basin leaving the pudding on the plate. Take off the cling film that you used to line the basin.
Serve chilled. Whipped cream is a good accompaniment.
Use whatever berries are available but make sure you include some redcurrants or blackcurrants as you need these to make the flavoured syrup.
You need to make this recipe a day in advance of when you wish to eat it as it needs to be kept in the fridge overnight to ensure that it stays in shape when turned out.
I love Bread and Butter Pudding and this is a version given a bit of a twist by the addition of rhubarb. My Rhubarb Bread and Butter Pudding is from a tradition of old-fashioned puddings which can be made quickly from ingredients that would have been available in most households (bread, milk, eggs). These puddings fell out of fashion, partly due to the focus on French cordon bleu style cooking in the 1970s but had a renaissance in the 1980s when they began to appear on restaurant menus. In my view, simple (and easy) using good ingredients (make sure those eggs are free-range!) is often the best way in cooking (and in life!).
Bread and Butter Pudding is essentially a combination of bread and creamy custard. And what goes well with custard? Rhubarb of course! This recipe combines the lovely creamy custard with golden crispy bread and tangy sweet-sour rhubarb. It is really easy to make – no messing about making pastry or sponge cakes for pudding – and should please those who like a “traditional” pudding and those who like something a bit different.