Monday, February 22, 2010

Pudding vs. Pudding

Three years ago, while studying abroad in the UK, I gained about 8 pounds in 3 months.  This could have been due to my discovery of chocolate covered digestive biscuits (took me about 2 days to finish 1 pack, when it takes normal people a couple of weeks), or the cheese toasties and banana muffins for breakfast in the JCR, but what I think really did it were the stodgy and rich desserts I ate in Hall every night after the stodgy and rich appetizers and main courses.  Not that I complained, as it was all very delicious.  It was during this time that I discovered my love for traditional English desserts, or "puddings", as they're called here.  See, when I think of pudding, I think chocolate or tapioca - something I eat when I've just gotten my wisdom teeth out or as an afternoon snack.  I've searched high and low for some American pudding, but can't find any (kind of like asking someone in Asda where their frozen cookie dough is ... you get the blank stare).  Not even jello (unless you make it yourself, which is, of course, entirely possible, but when you just want to get a six pack of tapioca pudding to have on hand, it's just not available). 

British "puddings" or desserts are as fascinating as they are delicious.  In America, our desserts usually consist of ice cream or pie (we have pies in abundance: lemon meringue, whoopee, banoffee, etc.) and have some kind of cold element to them.  In England, puddings are almost always served piping hot and are likely to burn your tongue.  Oh, but they are so delicious.  And high in calories.  There are so many different varieties of "traditional" puddings that I think the Brits just might have us beat in the best-way-to-end-a-meal department.  Us Americans can only do so much with warmed brownies and crazy ice cream flavors.  And so, I've compiled a list of my Top 5 Favorite British Puddings below:

Spotted Dick - Number One on my list is Spotted Dick which I love for its name.  Recently, the Flintshire Council headquarters (in the appropriately named town of Mold), had to rename its Spotted Dick pudding to Spotted Richard because of "immature" comments made by staff during lunchtime.  Of course, being the immature school girl college student that I was, I giggled uncontrollable when first presented with this pudding.  Glad to know I wasn't the only one though.  It's almost cake-like in texture and has a variety of dried fruits in it, mainly raisins and is always served with hot custard drizzled on top.  Mmm ...

Bread and Butter Pudding - Second on my list is bread and butter pudding, which is extremely easy to make, as the ingredients consist of sliced bread, butter, raisins, eggs and milk.  A bit of nutmeg if you're feeling gourmet.  This is the most comforting dessert ever - perfect to have in the winter months when you're feeling cold and lonely (not that I ever feel cold and lonely in the winter ... nor do I happen to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder and need hot puddings to cheer me up).

Treacle Sponge - The golden syrupy goodness of treacle sponge is also a favorite of mine.  It's basically hot sponge cake infused with generous amounts of syrup or molasses and sometimes served with custard.  And you thought only Americans overdosed on sugar ...

Sticky Toffee Pudding - I love toffee.  And after a late lunch/early dinner at a lovely pub in Hammersmith this weekend with friends, I had to go for the sticky toffee pudding, which is again, a sponge cake made with dates or prunes and covered in toffee sauce, often served with cold vanilla ice cream.  Cake and ice cream go together like peanut butter and jelly, I swear.  A perfect pairing.

Bramley Apple Crumble - I couldn't stray too far away from my American culture and not include a dessert that included apples.  Bramley apple crumble is fantastic because you don't get all the filling pie crust but still a bit of lovely crunch with the crumble.  It's lovely to have in the summer or winter and again, is served piping hot with either custard or vanilla ice cream.

My next challenge is to make all of these lovely puddings, so if you'd like to be a guinea pig, let me know.



  2. Oh darn. You know, I thought that banoffee was American, but it's actually British inspired by an American dessert: To me, puddings are always of the hot sponge variety, so banoffee just didn't really cut it for my list. Next time though.

  3. Hmmm my fav restaurant here serves spotted dick with homemade orange marmalade, it's incredible.

    And I hear you about the digestives! When I first arrived in the UK I got so obsessed with them my flatmates decided to wean me off them and wouldn't even let me go to Tesco on my own for fear I'd get more.

  4. Oh Advah, I knew you'd understand me on the pudding front! There's actually a picture of me clutching a 2 pint carton of milk and 2 stacks of digestives in one hand at Sainsbury's ... pre-weight gain. About two weeks after that photo was taken, I ballooned. No joke.

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