Mark Taylor takes a look at some traditional English puddings that could have a positive impact on your pub's menu.
PossetOnce popular in the Middle Ages and well into the 19th century, possets have started to make a welcome comeback on gastro-pub and restaurant menus. Once used as a cure for colds, possets are basically milk or cream "curdled" with wine, lemon or orange juice, in much the same way as the syllabub. Beaten egg whites have now replaced bread crumbs as the thickening agent. Possets are very easy to make in advance, keep well in the fridge and look good when served at the table in an attractive wine glass. There's also potential for a large GP.
Syllabub One of the oldest-known British dishes, syllabubs started off as an Elizabethan drink consisting of bubbling wine mixed with frothing milk. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the milk and wine were replaced by whipped cream and cider or fruit juice, to make a more solid pudding. Increasingly common on menus these days - usually as a lemon, raspberry or Champagne syllabub - it's simple to prepare and a refreshing alternative to the ubiquitous pannacotta.
Flummery A pure white jelly, usually made with double cream, sugar, wine or orange flower water and set with gelatine, flummeries were popular in Tudor and Stuart times and appeared in the cookbooks of Hannah Glasse and Mrs Beeton. Similar to a blancmange, this long-forgotten dish is very close to what we now know as the French bavarois. Although they can still be found in America, flummeries have slipped off the gastronomic radar in Britain's kitchens but are simple to make and long overdue for a revival.
JunketA very old-fashioned milk pudding, junket is incredibly simple to make. Milk is curdled by adding rennet (from the lining of a calf's stomach - although vegetarian versions are available), which coagulates the milk and sets it. The important thing to remember when making junket is that the milk mustn't be hotter than 98.4°F (36.9°C) (blood heat) in order for the enzyme in the rennet to coagulate it. Junkets can be served plain with grated nutmeg or flavoured. Popular flavourings include coffee, rum, lemon or orange.
Brown Betty Originally a favoured dish of working class country folk in the 19th century, Brown Betty was essentially a dish of baked apples, breadcrumbs and suet. Fresh breadcrumbs were fried in melted butter, mixed with sugar, cinnamon, grated lemon rind and suet and then layered with thinly sliced apples in an ovenproof dish. The resulting crisp-topped pudding with soft apples beneath, is served with cream or custard. Brown Betty occasionally crops up on menus, often during the English apple season, although rhubarb, plums, gooseberries and blackberries can all be used.