After yesterday’s painful admission that Americans make the best cinnamon buns, I thought I’d redress the balance with an ode to Grandmother Hog and her Great British Puddings.
Ever since I could walk on my own four trotters (and undoubtedly long before), that woman has diligently ensured that I and the rest of the hogs are well fed. Frankly, I’ve lost count of all the excellent cakes and desserts that have swam into my stomach thanks to her, but these are my top ten favourites, firmly etched on to the taste buds of my mind.
Should you ever find yourself lacking ideas for a proper Sunday Tea, the following will serve you well. Also, if you’re reading this Granny Hog, and you ever want to make me something tasty, you no longer have any excuse to delay. Back to the oven you go now.
Granny Hog’s Top Ten Puddings:
10. Strawberry Jam Tarts
A staple afternoon favourite, ideally eaten hot out of the oven (not too hot mind – I’d rather keep my lip-skin). Also excellent made with lemon curd, Granny’s have always been better than mine: crispy salted pastry, deep jam puddles; lovely to the max
9. Cherry and Almond Cake
Soft, almondy sponge and whole glace cherries? Gorgeous. The cherries keep things nice and moist. The best kind of cake to pair up with a cup of Earl Grey
8. Dorset Apple Cake
This was a relatively recent addition to Granny’s baking repertoire and was found in a recipe book produced by the excellent Upwey Wishing Well Tearooms near Weymouth. It is the best apple cake on the planet: moist and fruity, with the unorthodox (and frankly genius) addition of a crunchy crumble topping. So many fabulous textures – and ruddy delicious served warm in a bowl of hot custard
7. Apricot Pudding
A slightly contentious entry here, as Ma Hog claims this is her recipe, and that Granny Hog merely purloined it. Whatever. Ma can have the credit too if she likes – there’s enough to go around.
Anyhoo, back to the pudding itself: plump apricots (soaked from dry), natural yoghurt, cream, and a sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts. Not too unlike my own Matcha/Apricot invention, but somehow infinitely better. A summer classic
6. Apple and Blackberry Crumble
In the Family Hog, this is how apple crumble works: as soon as autumn arrives, Ma and I go for a Sunday walk in the hills, collecting blackberries, apples, and the occasional thorn (ouch). When visiting Gran for our post-walk tea, we hand over the goods. The next day we pick up our freshly-baked crumble and eat it after dinner. How’s that for service? Granny Hog’s crumble is so damn good, I don’t give a monkey’s when summer is over. In fact, the first thing I do when blackberry season finishes is start wishing for the next one.
Cold or hot, with custard or without, autumn wouldn’t be the same without it
5. Lemon Meringue Pie
Granny Hog taught me to make this once, but it was so blooming tricky I have never repeated the feat. Her version is AWESOME though: the lemon layer is thick and zingy – like lemon blancmange but firmer. Above that comes a heap of soft meringue, as light as a dish of sweet clouds. With its crispy top and crunchy pastry, I always find myself eating far too much for my own good
4. Chocolate Surprise
Like the Dorset Apple Cake, this one only came to my attention a few years ago. I wish it had turned up sooner. Apparently oh-so-simple to make, it is dense and exceedingly moreish: at the bottom are tightly-packed breadcrumbs, soaked in coffee (possibly liqueur – surprise!) and covered with granules of sugar for crunch. On the top is a layer of cream, generously showered with chocolate shavings. Hits all the right spots
3. Queen of Puddings
An old English favourite that I don’t think I’ve ever seen outside the family circle. For shame! It’s so delicious and gooey: a wobbly base of lemon zest, milk, breadcrumbs and sugar, spread with strawberry jam and topped with soft meringue peaks. God knows what the kingly equivalent might be, but I’d say it’s been rendered unnecessary.
I truly believe I could eat this all day. Every day. For the rest of my life. It goes down so smoothly you don’t even have to chew – just leave it to melt in your mouth
2. Eccles Cakes
There are those who would say these belong in the top spot (my unofficial godmothers for one). But they’re not writing this list, are they? Anyway, it’s no small achievement to come second and these are the cakes that have made my Granny Hog famous in certain circles (earning her the nickname of ‘The President’ to boot). Back in her baking heyday, she would make her own flaky pastry from scratch: crispy, fresh and studded with granules of sugar. Now she rolls out the pre-made stuff, but they still beat any you’ll find elsewhere.
It’s that juicy currant filling what does it: a generous mass of fruitiness, which oozes out after the sugary crunch. Does it count as one of my five-a-day? Who knows? Who cares? Not I
1. Yes, you guessed it: Trifle
This can’t have come as much of a surprise to you regular Ogglers – I write about it almost all the time. Granny Hog’s trifle has everything: vegetarian jelly, oodles of juicy fruit, soaked jammy sponge, more custard than you could dare to imagine (and so thick you could lose an arm in it), a layer of whipped cream, and grated milk chocolate all over the top.
Now, I may well have mentioned this before, but in case you missed it, I have been known to eat a whole bowl (i.e. 4-6 people’s worth) in one sitting. Try and shame me all you like, but I do not regret it for an instant.
On the occasions I do manage to restrain myself, it isn’t half worth it. This pudding improves with age; the flavours grows stronger; the sponge gets softer; everything goes all melty and wet. There’s probably a lesson in here somewhere – something about delayed gratification – but I cannot quite put my finger on it (possibly coz I’m a pig. I have trotters). Anyway, all you need to know is that this is Hog-Slop, good and proper. The most luxurious, fulfilling, wonderful Hog-Slop I know.
Oh, Granny Hog: from the bottom of my heart (and stomach), thank you, thank you, thank you.