Great British Desserts

British cookery is often treated as a joke, not least in Britain. Memories of over-cooked school meals and stodgy desserts abound. Yet cookery in Britain is going through something of a renaissance, where traditional recipes are being re-invented and re-discovered whilst new techniques and new styles are being brought into the cooking.

It must be said, however, that British cooking has always tended to excel in the area of desserts. Here I present two desserts. A classic 'pudding' and a dessert from the new school of British cookery.

Spotted Dick

350g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
30g butter

140g shredded suet
85g caster sugar
115g currants
juice and finely-grated zest of 2 lemons

80ml milk

60ml whipping cream

Combine the flour, baking powder, suet, sugar and currants in a large bowl, ensuring that you mix them together well. Meanwhile melt the butter in a pan and stir into the flour mixture along with the lemon juice and zest.

Mix together the cream and milk and stir just enough of this into the flour mixture to give you a dropping consistency. Grease a 1.5l pudding basin very well and pour the batter into this. Cover the top with a double layer of greaseproof paper that's been lightly greased then wrap the entire bowl in foil and tie securely. Place in a steamer (or on top of a saucer in a pan of boiling water) and cook for about 90 minutes, or until cooked through (make certain you check the water level so it doesn't boil dry).

Turn onto a serving plate and serve with plenty of custard.

Gooseberry Fool

450g gooseberries, topped and tailed

150ml elderflower cordial

2 egg yolks

1 tsp arrowroot

150ml milk

2 tbsp sugar

150ml double cream

fresh elderflowers to decorate (optional)

Add the gooseberries to a pan along with the elderflower cordial. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook gently until soft and pulpy (about 30 minutes). Allow to cool then transfer to a serving dish.

Meanwhile heat the milk in a pan until almost boiling. Beat the egg yolks, arrowroot and sugar together in a heat proof bowl. Stirring all the while, pour the milk into this mixture. When thoroughly combined return to the pan and heat gently until the custard thickens (do not boil!). Strain into a clean bowl and allow to cool.

Whip the cream (it should end-up about the same consistency as the gooseberries) then stir into the gooseberry mixture. Now fold the custard into the gooseberry mix (don't worry if it's not completely incorporated a marbled effect can look better). Place a few elderflowers on top and serve.

I hope you enjoyed these classic British desserts and that you will now investigate both traditional and modern British cookery further.

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About The Author, Gwydion
Dyfed Lloyd Evans is the creator of the Celtnet Recipes site where you can find many more British Recipes and Dessert Recipes.