A recent survey carried out by online independent education guide www.tom-brown.com, asked people for their memories of childhood dining and has revealed that Apple crumble and custard is Britain's favourite school canteen pudding, followed by Chocolate sponge with chocolate custard, then Jam roly-poly. Also in the top ten were Spotted dick and Bread and butter pudding.
These nostalgic old favourites have remained popular, even though most of us no longer eat puddings every day. A proper pudding after Sunday lunch or on a chilly day is a real joy. I always serve a traditional pudding when friends and family come for meals and it's great to watch their faces light up in anticipation as I put it on the table. And of course if you need cheering up, a helping of delicious pudding is the perfect comfort food!
Britain can boast an astonishing number of mouth-watering puddings. At the end of the 17th century, a French visitor to England, François Maximilien Misson, praised the variety of our puddings when he observed, "They make them fifty several ways: blessed be he that invented pudding... Ah, what an excellent thing is an English pudding!"
British puddings and desserts (known in the past as 'conceited dishes') are still admired throughout the world. The mouth-watering array of rich, velvety syllabubs, custards, fools and trifles; substantial steamed and baked puddings, sweet milky cereal puddings, fruit crumbles and creamy bread puddings are unrivalled anywhere else. Despite competition from newcomers such as frozen cheesecakes and gateaux and novelty ice cream desserts, the traditional favourites still have a fervent following.
Everyone loves puddings and their sheer versatility means they can be adapted to suit the occasion - simple and homely, or impressive and extravagant. Nursery puddings such as Bread and butter pudding, for instance, become sophisticated and elegant when made with cream and a generous dash of alcohol.
If asked to name my favourite pudding, it would be very difficult! A steaming slice of sponge oozing golden syrup, surrounded by a pool of creamy yellow custard perhaps, or a fruity, nutty crumble served warm with whipped cream, or possibly Sussex pond pudding cooked with a whole lemon and sugar in the centre so that a buttery lemon sauce oozes out when the pudding is cut open... then of course there's the wonderfully rich, warm, irresistible flavour of anything with chocolate and cocoa...
What's your pudding of choice?