Walking around the clinically arranged vegetable section of the supermarket my eye was drawn by a stack of rhubarb. It's been aeons since I've had that and it leapt into my trolly.
Back home I chopped it into inch long chunks, washed it and put the wet pieces into a baking dish. My memories of rhubarb from school are of it making my teeth squeak and having a generally metallic taste, which was not fabulously pleasant. So the challenge is to make the most of the flavour without making it too sweet.
I was after a pudding that would suit a non-traditional pudding person - so that ruled out crumbles, cobblers and other delightfully stodgy memory trips. I thought I would knock up a rhubarb base and seek inspiration as the afternoon progressed.
Along with the rhubarb I sprinkled in tablespoon of brown caster sugar and a squidge of fresh vanilla extract, covered it with foil and put it into the oven to cook gently. I wanted it slightly tart, but not teeth tinglingly so.
When I removed it, I remembered how much it collapses down so there was now a need to bulk it back up to make enough for a pudding for four. Two peeled, chopped apples did the trick and I put this lot back in the oven for 15 mins to soften up, then left it to cool.
Well, that gives us a compote. What now? I could make it into a fool - beat some cream and stir it through? But if people are feeling full from supper (being the belly pork) then it might be a fat serving too far. OK, that means it needs to be desconstructed so individuals can build their own. How about some meringues? Damn, left it too late as the oven is full of pork bits now, and I can never think of anything to do with the yolks and it just feels wasteful. Maybe some crisp biscuits? That could work - how about some tuiles (can't find a recipe); bingo! Brandy snaps. Never made them before but how hard can they be? Dug out a recipe from Katie Stewart's 'The Times cookbook' (an oldie, but a goodie). Everything she does just works.
- 50g butter
- 150g caster sugar (I've run out of this, and only had a sort of brown granulated number, so used that instead)
- 50g golden syrup
- 50g plain flour
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
Beat butter and sugar together until creamed, then beat in syrup. Sift flour and ginger into mix, bring gently together and then knead until smooth. (What actually happened was the butter, having just come out of the fridge, resolutely resisted creaming with the over crunchy sugar, so I whanged it into the food mixer and gave it what for until it gave in. Added the syrup, beat it further, and then sifted the flour/ginger straight into it and gave it another whizz until it all came together). Make it into a sausage shape, wrap in clingfilm and leave in fridge for an hour to settle.
When ready to cook, line baking tray with baking paper, cut half cm slices of dough, and place 4 or 5 well apart onto the tray. Bake at 170c but keep an eagle eye on them, they go from not cooked to burnt very quickly. They will spread out and become lacy, taking about 7 minutes to cook. I left them on the paper to cool, but if you're feeling adventurous, you could drape the round a wooden spoon to make the cigar shape. Maybe you could drape over a small bowl or ramekin to make a pleasingly 70's pudding style receptacle. Too damn fiddly for me today. Leave to cool.
To complete the pudding I whipped cream with a splash of vanilla extract until dollopy and thick, but not rigid. I didn't sugar it as the biscuits were going to add the super sweet dash to pudding.
Timings wise, we finished the main course and whilst the guests were groaning and complaining about being as full as a 'tick/pig/pussy's-bow (no, I'm not sure about that last one either), I beat the cream and baked the biscuits. The latter bit was no trouble as it was just a matter of slicing/baking and afforded a decent breathing space in preparation for the final dining push.
Everybody managed to find space for pudding, and for seconds and even third.
Style of consumption varied as follows:
- take brandy snap, lay down a base of cream onto it, dot with compote - eat
- put dollop of compote in bowl, streak with cream and crumble brandy snap into it, stir - eat
- add to scoop of compote on spoon, a swipe of cream - eat with brandy snap chaser
- take brandy snap - eat
Everybody really liked those brandy snaps. Result!