Food: Puddings

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The Independent Culture
Puddings have long been the glory of the British table and here, in the second half of our summer food series, we publish some inventive interpretations of traditional desserts by Conran's leading cooks. Our native fruit has few rivals: red summer berries crown pavlova; blueberries melt into that supremely British invention, posset; apples are caramelised and rich plums baked into simple tarts. And finally, a selection of cocktails from Zinc's head barman to close the long days of summer

Sweet somethings

Cinnamon and vanilla cheesecake (below), a favourite at the Blue Print Cafe, can easily be made at home. As can our other recipes from Conran restaurants (shown overleaf): Mezzo's plum tart; Bluebird's pavlova; and the Blue Print Cafe's caramelised apple pancakes, posset with blueberries and steamed pudding


Serves 10

440g light shortcrust pastry

100g unsalted butter

200g caster sugar

450g cream cheese

2 tablespoons rich, heady honey

90ml double cream

seeds of 1 vanilla pod

5 eggs, separated

50g plain flour, sifted

For the topping 50g dark Barbados sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

50g flaked almonds

Pre-heat the oven to 325F/170C/ Gas 3. Line a 22.5cm by 6cm deep tart case with the pastry. Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the cream cheese, followed by the honey, cream, vanilla seeds, egg yolks and flour. Mix well. Whip egg whites until peaked. Fold into mixture and pour into tart case. Rub Barbados sugar, cinnamon and almonds through your fingers. Dredge over cheesecake. Place in middle of the oven for an hour. Turn off heat. Leave to cool


Serves 4-6

570ml full fat milk

5 whole free-range eggs

1 teaspoon cornflour

1 vanilla pod, split

50g caster sugar

Pour the milk into a heavy- bottomed pan and add the split, scraped vanilla pod. Over a medium heat, bring the milk to a merest simmer. Whisk the eggs, cornflour and sugar until well mixed and pour on the hot, infused milk. Return mixture to the pan and stir continuously until the custard thickens. Stir all the while and place the bottom of the pan into iced water to prevent continual cooking and the dreaded curdle. Pass the custard through a sieve into a lovely jug and keep warm if serving warm, or cool and refrigerate if serving chilled


1 litre organic milk

1 vanilla pod

12 free-range egg yolks

350g sugar

Boil the milk with the vanilla pod, then remove from the heat. Whisk the egg yolks with 50g of sugar. Put 200g of sugar in a small pan and saturate it with water. Place the pan on the stove and bring to the boil. This should boil until it turns dark and starts to caramelise. Pour this caramelised mixture into the milk and bring back to the boil. Combine a little of the milk mix with the sugar and egg yolk mix, then add that back into the milk mixture. Cook, without boiling, on the stove until the mixture thickens to coat the back of a spoon. Pass the whole mixture through a fine sieve. Allow the mixture to cool, then freeze. Ideally this should be frozen in an ice cream machine but if you do not have one, place it in the freezer, making sure it is stirred every so often. Take the remaining 100g of sugar and again saturate it in water, for the sauce. Bring to the boil and as soon as it starts to turn brown, take off the heat and add a splash of water to stop it caramelising. Serve the ice- cream in a bowl and pour a little of the caramel sauce over the top


Serves 6

For the batter

200g plain flour

pinch of salt

2 whole free-range eggs

2 free-range egg yolks

2 tablespoons peanut oil

550ml milk

9 good-sized, proper, British, firm-fleshed apples

8 tablespoons sugar

600g mascarpone

4 tablespoons Marsala

100ml single cream

1 teaspoon icing sugar

To make batter, whizz all the ingredients until quite smooth in a liquidiser. Allow to sit for an hour or so in the fridge. Peel and core the apples. Cut each apple into six or eight slices and place in a bowl. Melt the sugar slowly until nut brown and lump free in a heavy-bottomed pan. Carefully place the apples into the caramel. If the pan is too small, cook apples in batches. Cover the apples in caramel and shake the pan regularly until slices are lacquered and soft. Place in a dish, pouring in residual caramel. Keep warm. Heat a heavy-bottomed frying pan. Cook the pancakes, as thin and wide as possible. Stack in warm, clean towel. Whisk mascarpone until smooth. Stir in the cream, Marsala and sugar. Fold pancakes. Stuff with the apples. Pop in a hot oven for a few minutes. Serve with the mascarpone cream


Serves 8-10

510g caster sugar, sieved

60g icing sugar, sieved

680g butter

420g plain flour

11 free-range eggs

450g ground almonds

10-15 plums, quartered and stoned

Prepare the pastry: mix 60g of caster sugar with the icing sugar, 230g of butter and 375g of flour until a breadcrumb consistency is achieved. Add one egg and mix until the ingredients have combined to make a dough. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes before use. Roll out the sweet pastry and line a 30cm tart case. Refrigerate for a further 20 minutes. Line the pastry case with baking paper and baking beans (enough to cover sides and base). Blind-bake at 350F/180C/Gas 4

until the pastry is golden-brown. Remove from the oven. Remove the baking paper and beans and leave to cool. To make the tart, cream together the remaining butter and sugar. Slowly add the remaining eggs and combine with the remaining flour and the ground almonds. Pour the mixture into the pastry case, then arrange the plums on top. Cook in a pre-heated oven at 350F/180C/Gas 4 for approximately 20 to 25 minutes


Serves 6

450ml double cream

112g caster sugar

75ml lemon juice

250g blueberries

75g caster sugar

1vanilla pod, split

Clean six large ramekins scrupulously and place on a tray. Boil the cream and sugar in a large pan for three minutes then pour in the lemon juice. Remove from heat, pour through a sieve into a jug and decant into ramekins. Chill, preferably overnight. Place the blueberries, sugar and split vanilla pod in an earthenware pot and cover. Bake in a warm oven at 300F/150C/ Gas 2 for an hour or so. If there seems to be too much liquid, leave to cook uncovered for a further 10 or 15 minutes. Chill. (This will keep for a couple of weeks, so make lots.) Spoon the chilled blueberries on to the chilled possets


Serves 4

6 egg whites

300g caster sugar

splash of Champagne (or mild white wine) vinegar

1 vanilla pod, split

30g cornflour

seasonal red berries, to serve

150ml double cream, whipped

icing sugar, to finish

Whisk the egg whites in an electric mixer until they form soft peaks. Add the sugar and vinegar, seeds from the vanilla pod and the cornflour, mix on high speed until it forms stiff peaks, add 30ml of boiling water and mix for a further minute. Spoon four large egg shapes on to non-stick baking paper, and bake in an oven for about 25 minutes at 300F/150C/Gas 2, until the outside is crispy, but the centre is soft. Leave to cool. When cool, these can be stored in an airtight container. To serve, place a selection of berries on top of each pavlova, top with a spoonful

of whipped cream and dust with icing sugar


Serves 6

(as either individual puddings or a great big one)

150g unsalted butter

150g caster sugar

3 whole free-range eggs

zest of 6 lemons, finely grated

50ml lemon juice

180g self-raising flour

112 teaspoons baking powder

a pinch of salt

150g gooseberry jam (preferably home-made)

Generously butter the mould or moulds and place a wee square of greaseproof paper on the bottom(s). Put a generous spoonful of gooseberry jam on the base of the mould(s). Cream the butter and sugar until they become pale and creamy. Beat the eggs together and pour into the butter and sugar very slowly. Sift the flour and baking powder together and fold into the batter along with the lemon zest, juice and a pinch of salt. Mix well and pour into the mould(s). Seal the bowl thoroughly and place in 4cm of simmering water. Seal the pot and steam for one hour. Allow to sit for five minutes before unmoulding and then serve up with lots of custard