I never for one moment believed that I would find the perfect Malva pudding in a small village in Kent which lies between the North Downs and the Weald of Kent.
But if you are lucky enough, you could find it on the menu at The Curious Eatery in Boughton Monchelsea. After growing up in Botswana and training in Cape Town, two sisters Lesley & Nicole set up their eatery in the disused Albion Inn.
Rustic, informal and tasteful furnished creating a setting that complements an exciting, vibrant menu.
Homemade, home baked cakes, tarts and chocolatey treats. As well as ever difficult to find traditional bread and butter pudding.
One of my enduring memories of Christmas, is finding the sixpence inside the brandy drenched Christmas pudding.
Patiently waiting for the adults after switching off the lights. All the oohing and aahing, as the flaming pudding was brought to the table. I wasn’t particularly interested in the brandy butter either. It was the shiny new sixpence and a years good luck which I was after.
Whereas now that I am a lot older and a lot wiser, it is what makes the difference between one pudding and another that is important. Like the handmade traditional puddings from a tiny artisan bakery in Devon. Figgy’s puddings that are steamed and matured in the traditional way that allows the flavours to mature and develop.
I wonder if they have ever considered popping a shiny new sixpence into the mix?
A traditional English steamed sponge pudding on a cold winter’s day.
A rare treat that is not as easy to find as it should be. Unless you already know about Quantock Steamers. Situated at the base of the Quantock Hills they specialise in making artisan steamed sponge and meat suet puddings.
The Quantock Hills in Somerset, consist of heathland, oak woodlands, ancient parklands and agricultural land. They were England’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and are the perfect setting for this family-run business.
If you have never had the pleasure of sitting down to a steamed syrup sponge pudding you have something to look forward to.
After being told that it is the quintessentially traditional English dessert, I went in search of the Sussex Pond Pudding.
But no luck.
I scoured Google for any telltale signs of the deliciously rich sauce, which oozes out onto the plate when the pudding is cut open to serve. Nothing. Not one restaurant, I could find, that included it on their dessert menus.
Plenty of recipes though. All extolling the merits of this elusive sticky treat.
Whilst it is not the most attractive of puddings, the rich suet pastry encases a delicious filling of brown sugar and butter, with a whole lemon placed in the centre. As the pudding steams, the lemon softens flavouring the butter and brown sugar which when cut open, pools around the plate giving it, it’s name and the sticky goodness which keeps one coming back for more.
But it is not as traditional as it would first appear.
The addition of the lemon is a relatively new innovation. The original recipe was a suet crust flavoured with currants and sugar that’s rolled around a ball of sweetened butter.
It was the homemade cake that first caught my eye at Tierra Kitchen in Lyme Regis.
But that was just the beginning of a long slippery slope. Their puddings and cakes taste as good as they look.
How do you choose between passion fruit poached pear with Turkish delight ice cream and the outrageously tempting vegan and gluten free chocolate and raspberry delice?
Offering some of the best desserts in Dorset and southern England, Tierra Kitchen can be found in Lyme Regis in the cultural quarter.
The Coal Exchange in Emsworth is a regular stop for a homemade Apple Crumble
A nice big plate that is drowning in cream. They also do a good Lemon Meringue and sweet sticky sponge pudding.
Traditional English desserts to round off a leisurely home cooked pub lunch. Simple wholesome food and the hospitality that keeps one coming back over and over.
Many years ago I had a favourite Indian restaurant on Corlett Drive in Johannesburg. They served an Indian rice pudding as a speciality on their dessert menu.
A rare treat I have searched high and low for ever since. I assume it was Kheer and infused with saffron. But I have yet to find anything that compares.
Although it is also the dessert menu that has me going back to Darbar in Emsworth. For both their rice pudding and a very sweet doughnut type dessert which I think is Gulab Jamun.
Whenever I am in Southampton I make a point of stopping for a pub lunch at the Duke of Wellington.
Which invariably ends with a typically English pudding
Steamed sponge pudding, sticky sweet and swimming in fresh cream
Or the Spotted Dick served with custard.
One of my regular stops in town is the Chantry in Chichester
It’s a Stonegate Pub so expect some faceless executive, lost in a back office somewhere, no one quite knows where, to change the menu in the near future.
But for now my order is for their bread & butter pudding dipping fingers.
Tt is typical of the local pubs in Chichester. Their prices are competitive and affordable. But the menu is sufficiently different to be worth a second look.
For the late risers and brunch crowd they offer the best value for money breakfast in Chichester. With two of everything. And their burgers do what burgers are supposed to do.