I enjoy learning about - and tasting - the different desserts of different regions. In Hong Kong where I grew up, these favourites come in the form of after dinner sweet soups like red bean soup, sesame paste, almond paste, sweet sago cream with coconut milk, glutinous rice balls etc. The English on the other hand have their puddings, and those who have grown up with these traditional sweets have fond memories of apple crumble, bread and butter pudding, jam roly poly, spotted dick, and chocolate sponge with chocolate custard.
Having lived in the UK for so long, I've come to love these family-style puddings. They are not technically sophisticated, particularly delicate or stylish, and they don't require much decoration. but on a Sunday, after lunch, especially on one of those cold, grey winter days, nothing lift your spirits up or warms your heart like the sight of a bowl of hot, steamy, crunchy, soft, sweet pudding.
Children here are used to having these sort of puddings at home and at school, and tend to be quite nostalgic about them after they've grown up. Hotels and restaurants feature these humble desserts on their Sunday lunch menus, proving they're still popular and well-loved.
If I had to choose my absolute favourite. It would have to be a crumble, made with any kind of seasonal fruit like apples, damsons and plums. Served with custard, fresh cream or ice-cream, you can imagine how delicious that is!
You can serve it straight from the dish to the bowl.
I sometimes like to cut out a small, round shape of crumble with a metal ring or a scone cutter, making it look more delicate.
You can either use plain flour, butter and sugar to make the topping, or use butter, sugar and homemade breadcrumbs. Like I did before with the Autumn plums and damsons crumble.
( 少牛油少糖版 6 - 8 人用 )
- 麵粉 400g 過篩
- 無鹽牛油 100g 室溫切粒 ( 我這個是健康版；如果喜歡較香滑酥軟的話可以多加牛油。別的食譜多數都是 300g 麵粉對 200g 牛油的。)
- 淺黄軟砂糖 light soft brown sugar 160g
- 紅蘋果去皮去心切丁方 ( 任何種類也可，足以鋪滿烤盤的底部便行。)
- 乾葡萄或混合果乾 100g
- 肉桂粉 1 茶匙
- 預熱烤爐至 180C / 350F / Gas 4
- 烤盤內抹牛油，把蘋果餡料放進底部鋪平，把奶酥加在上面平均按滿。置烤爐內焗 40 - 45 分鐘至表面金黄，或你可見烤熟的蘋果熱透出了表面或烤盤邊便成。
( less sugar and less butter version serves 6 - 8 )
For the topping:
- 400g plain flour, sieved
- 100g unsalted butter, cubed at room temparature. ( My recipe is a healthier version; if you prefer your crumble crunchier and more moist, you can add more butter. Most recipes use 300g plain flour to 200g butter ratio.)
- 160g light soft brown sugar
- Knob of butter for greasing
For the filling:
- Any type of red apples, enough to cover the base of a round oven dish, peeled, cored and cut into small square pieces.
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Place the flour and sugar in a large bowl and mix well. Use your finger tips to rub the butter into the flour mixture, keep rubbing until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Preheat the oven to 180C /350F/ Gas 4.
- Place the apple in another large bowl, add the dried fruit and cinnamon and mix well.
- Butter the oven-proof dish, put the fruit mixture on the bottom, then sprinkle the crumble mixture on top. Bake in the oven for 40 - 45 minutes until the top is browned or you can see the apples bubbling through from underneath or from the side of the dish.
- 牛奶 1 pint / 570 ml
- 單忌亷 single cream ( half and half / light cream - 乳脂含量 18% 左右 ) 2 fl oz / 55 ml
- 好質素的雲尼拿香精 1/2 茶匙
- 蛋黃 4 個
- 砂糖 30g / 1 oz
- 粟粉 2 平茶匙
- 把奶蛋羹全部倒回小煲去，加雲尼拿香精，用小火再次煮熱。用木匙輕輕不斷攪拌以防黏底，至奶蛋液開始微沸和變厚了和可以在木匙上停留便即熄火。 ( 小心不要煮過頭， 煮過火了會呈凝結微粒狀 。如真的煮過火了，可嘗試把奶蛋倒進另一容碗或乾淨量杯去，繼續攪拌看是否會再呈光滑；必要時可過篩試試。)
- 570ml / 1 pint milk
- 55 ml / 2 fl oz single cream ( half and half / light cream - has at least 18% butter fat )
- 1 /2 tsp good quality vanilla extract
- 4 egg yolks
- 30g / 1 oz caster sugar
- 2 level tsp cornflour
- Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour together in a large bowl until well blend.
- Bring the milk and cream to a simmering point on a low heat.
- Pour the hot milk onto the egg mixture, whisking all the time with a balloon whisk.
- Return to the pan and on a low heat, add vanilla extract, stir gently and continuously with a wooden spoon until the custard is thick and smooth; which will happen as soon as it reaches simmering point, then turn off the heat. Take great care not to over heat it, or they will curdle and look grainy.( If that happens, try transfer it to a clean measuring jug or a bowl and continue to whisk it until it becomes smooth again or straining it through a sieve may help too. )
- Pour custard into a jug and serve it at once.
- To keep hot, stand the jug in hot water, and cover the top with cling film to prevent the skin forming.
- 不過你也可以用食物天然色素 ( 在超市的烘焙部門有售 )，用紅色數滴加黄色數滴，先在小碗中拌勻，然後才加進奶蛋羹去調至理想的淡蛋黃色。
- If you want your homemade custard to have a beautiful egg yellow colour, then you'll have to buy those organic eggs or good quality free range eggs. As their egg yolks have a deeper colour, otherwise your custard will be creamy white rather then lovely egg yellow.
- But you can use Natural food colouring ( you can buy them in the baking department of supermarkets ), mix a few drops of yellow and a few drops of red in a small bowl first before adding into the custard mixing it to the ideal pale yellow colour .