Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sweetie Darling? British Words from A to Zed, Week 4

This is what I heard one of my friends say recently. No she’s not pretentious or snooty…she was just offering some candy (sweeties) to her child (darling). I’m sharing this little fun fact with you as an intro to today’s word post on all things sweet. Actually I’m going to focus on British puddings and I’m definitely talking about the sweet kind, not the savoury. Blood pudding? Can we all say ewww?!

British puddings are fab-u-lous. And, just in case your pudd is not quite fab enough, well, the person serving it to you will usually ask if you would you like cream on that? Or custard? Or ice cream? And you would say yes. Because there’s only about 10,000 calories in the pudding so let’s go ahead and bring on the custard too. My goodness, the dairy products in this country are amazing. I could pretty much drink the double cream straight out of the carton. I don’t…but I could.

There are so many wonderful pudds I’d love to mention that I’m feeling almost giddy just thinking about it. Let me start with my favourite…sticky toffee pudding.

Sticky Toffee Pudding is a moist sponge cake made with very finely chopped dates and covered in a warm toffee sauce. The toffee sauce y’all…sigh.

Gosh, maybe I should have saved that one for the end because I’m having trouble focusing on what to say next. Oh yeah…I was going to tell you that the very first week I lived in England my next door neighbour arrived at my front door with a homemade Bakewell Tart to say welcome to the neighborhood. Except she said, 'Welcome to the estate' because that's what they call the neighborhoods here. She is originally from the town of Bakewell which is in Derbyshire so I considered her gift truly authentic. And delicious. A Bakewell Tart is basically a short crust pastry shell spread with jam (usually raspberry), and covered with a dense almond topping.

Crumbles are a very popular dessert here and are made with whatever fruit is in season. My favourite is apple and plum and with some cream or custard poured on top it is ‘gorgeous’. You will often hear the word gorgeous used when describing food here. Somehow it works.

If you saw the movie Calendar Girls you will recognize the pudd known as The Victoria Sponge. which incidentally was named for Queen Victoria. It was actually one of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting who is said to have been the creator of tea time which I’ll write about another day. A Victoria Sponge is a light and fluffy sponge cake sandwiched together with strawberry or raspberry jam and buttercream. A cake sandwich is definitely my kind of sandwich. Do I need to add that it is scrumptious? I thought not.

I will mention here that if you plan to bake your own pudds in this country you really need to be prepared to face the sugar aisle of the supermarket. Recipes tend to be quite specific as to which type you should use …icing sugar (confectioners), caster sugar (very finely granulated sugar), Demerara sugar (raw sugar), brown sugar, muscovado sugar (a specialty very dark brown sugar with a strong molasses flavour) …Have I mentioned that I love England? I mean really, between the sugars and the creams what’s not to love?

I don’t suppose I can end a post on British pudds without mentioning this one and before you say anything I know what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking you had no idea you could get cake in a can.

Okay, maybe that isn’t what you’re thinking but stop what you are thinking for a minute and think about that. You can get cake in a can here. I’ve honestly never eaten one out of the can but hubs and I did have a little bit of fun (in addition to more than slightly embarrassing our teenage daughters) when we took cans of this one home to our brothers as stocking stuffers the first Christmas we were here.

Finished giggling now? I suppose it does need a bit of explanation but it’s really just another pudd that you will see on pretty much every pub menu and in many restaurants here. Steamed puddings are popular and years ago you would have had to steam them yourself but now you can buy some of the traditional steamed puddings in the market and just microwave on a plate. Not quite the same but almost. The chocolate with the melty middle is my personal favourite because when you put your fork into it all this lovely melted chocolate syrup gushes out. What was I saying…oh yes, the can pictured above is a traditional steamed sponge pudding made with golden syrup, suet and raisins and like most other pudds here is best served with warm custard poured over top. Of course it is.

The name possibly comes from a corruption of the word pudding (pudding became puddink which became puddick and you get the idea). Spotted refers to the effect created by the raisins.

And on that note I think I really will end this post. You’re welcome.


  1. Everything looks yummy!

    And of course I giggled like a little kid when I saw the can of spotted dick.

  2. Joyce - I do believe you were a Brit in another life!

  3. Oh my! You have brought back some memories.... I loved the puddings in England the years I lived there..... I used to pass by this little pastry shop and by two custards to take home...... sometimes my husband did not get his as it never made it home...... You have made my mouth water!

    I am going to go and cook something!

  4. I could eat my way through your post today!!! I LOVE sweets and those look amazing and GORGEOUS(as you said). That canned pudding is a hoot!!! I bet you have had some fun with that one. LOL!!! I'm sure you all have really enjoyed sampling all the wonderful food in the area and while traveling throughout Europe. I love to try new things. What a great post. Thanks for sharing. I hope you will be able to duplicate those wonderful recipes in the states. The first one with the dates and toffee sauce has my name on it. YUM!!! Love & blessings from NC!

  5. As always, you had me hooting again. Your posts are so informative and descriptive as well as funny. I loved the pics, they are beautiful and I am enjoying getting to know your England. One day I am going to get over to your part of the world, always a dream but have never had the chance.

  6. Loved your post on puddings. My introduction to British puddings was that can of Spotted Dick. Charlie of course had to bring one home after his first trip. And it made me just a BIT suspicious of those crazy Brits and their sweets. I may have to try some of the others you described.

    My favorite adjective that we need to use more here in the States?

    "Brilliant" and its abbreviation, "Brill."

  7. One of the first Christmas' my husband spent with my American family also involved cans of spotted dick. The name alone warrants laughter and I think it's what really made my family love him, lol!

  8. I really want a can of that "cake in a can!" Seriously, that would make the funniest gag gift. (maybe I'll need two because I would want a can to keep....just for giggles)
    The puddings look simply delicious. I never knew there were so many different kinds of sugars.
    You have taught me more about England in just a few posts than I ever knew. I love reading about your life there.
    Thanks Joyce!

  9. Love this post of all your pudds. They all look sooo good, but make me miss my best friend back in Colorado who is British. She always said "sweets" and taught me about all these pudds. We made a figgy pudding together one Christmas and plum pudding was served too. Speaking of plums...I simply adore Tiptrees Victorian plum jam...it's my fav.

    I have the kettle on now to have my British Twinings tea...it really is better than what we buy here in America. It's 50's and raining here, so I was thinking of making some homemade scones to go with my Tiptree lemon curd I also love. Wish I had some devonshire cream to go with it.

    I loved all your random thoughts below and will have to return after my cuppa to read more!

  10. I'm not sure how I missed commenting on this one. Pudds are my fav! I've had sticky toffee pudding from Cartmel in the Lake District and you can buy them just about anywhere. I even found a recipe that I made that was pretty close to it. I would love to try the Bakewell Tart. I've never even heard of that one.

    I have never seen the can of "Spotted you know what". And yes, my mind went there. It just did. lol

    I prayed for you for your travels to France. I can't wait to hear all about it. I know you are having a wonderful time with your DH and friends.

  11. My mouth is watering in between the giggles:) Do you bake any of these puddings yourself? I would love a recipe to try.

  12. Oh, my goodness, I think I'm going to have to look for Spotted Dick when we are in England this fall. What a hoot. Would love to bring some back to my friends.

    And a question. Couldn't help but notice your use of "y'all." Do you ever use that expression in England, and do they look at you funny?