Going through some recent cooking magazines, I was struck by how inconveniently specific some of the recipe ingredients have become. From micro herbs, to jamon, to fresh burrata and Kashmiri chilli and ‘organic nasturtium petals’ (yes, really), they often offer no substitute ingredient, so if you can’t get your hands on some organic nasturtium petals – or even know what a substitute would be – then you’ve probably stuffed up the recipe already.
Apart from ‘special occasion’ dishes for parties and the like, I much prefer ordinary, just-find-it-in-a-shop ingredients in my everyday meals. It makes things so much easier when you feel like a rice pilaf and you can make it with items you already have in the pantry, instead of having to traipse across town to the specialist spice place that stocks Kashmiri chilli.
Of course, my definition of ‘simple’ may be different to yours; in fact, it probably is, because if it involves anything remotely complicated (like food that's hellishly deep-fried), then I’m a lost cause. I’ve also found that the simple dishes are usually the old-fashioned ones that originated in about 1950, that were made by a post-war frugal generation – well, at least anything that doesn’t involve dripping or lard is okay.
Here’s an old-fashioned favourite, Lemon Delicious Pudding, but chilled for make-ahead convenience.
Chilled Lemon Delicious Pudding
40g (1½ oz) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup caster sugar
3 eggs, separated
60g (2oz) self-raising flour, sifted
350ml (12oz) milk
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons, plus 1/3 cup lemon juice
Icing sugar, to serve
1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Grease a 1.2l (5-cup) capacity ovenproof dish with a little of the butter.
2. Beat butter and caster sugar with an electric mixer until thick and pale, about 10 minutes. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each yolk is added.
3. Add a third of the flour, beat well, then add a third of the milk, beating again. Repeat until all the flour and milk has been added.
4. Add lemon zest and juice and mix until a smooth batter forms.
5. In a separate bowl, beat the eggwhites until soft peaks form. Gradually fold the eggwhites into the batter until just combined.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared dish, then place the dish into deep roasting pan and fill with enough hot water to come halfway up the side of the dish. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 30 minutes or until the pudding is golden.
7. Turn off the oven and allow the pudding to cool in the oven for 30 minutes (to stop it collapsing). Transfer pudding to the refrigerator to cool completely.
8. Serve with icing sugar dusted over.
recipe adapted from delicious (Nov 2011)
Various stages of preparation, including whipping the eggwhites before folding into the egg yolk, butter and sugar mixture.
The pudding is then covered and placed in a water bath before baking.
Like a typical lemon delicious pudding, a lemony sauce sinks to the base of the pudding, ready to be scooped out with the spongey top.
Make sure you get some sauce with the cake.
Actually, I found that the cooling of the pudding made the sponge cake a bit dense, so I prefer the warm version. You can't beat the taste of either method, though. Very lemony and certainly delicious.