Recipe: Make our cheap and easy rhubarb and blood orange marmalade queen of puddings

Rhubarb and blood orange marmalade queen of puddings Picture: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis

Rhubarb and blood orange marmalade queen of puddings Picture: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis - Credit: Archant

If you are trying to save money this month our pudding won't break the bank.

All hail the queen of puddings. She's a tasty and rather elegant looking dessert. All creamy, jammy and gooey underneath, with an elegant, decorative crown of billowing meringue.

I can think of nothing thriftier to dish up on a Sunday then this (or perhaps bread and butter pud). For the queen of puddings is a simple marriage of the kinds of things many of us have knocking about in the cupboard and fridge anyway.

A few eggs, the last few slices off that loaf of bread you were thinking of chucking away, the contents of the bottom of a jam jar, sugar, milk.

Admittedly I haven't always been a fan of this bake. I'd relegated it to the 'fusty and old' category. The kind of unfashionable, stodgy staple my parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents would have gobbled up in their youth alongside tapioca, spotted dick and fruit and custard (with a skin).

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If you've never made or eaten one, let me explain the delights this dessert brings.

To start with there's a wibbly base – not quite a custard, not quite a sponge – made simply by soaking breadcrumbs in a simple milk/sugar/egg yolk solution and baking it.

Then you add that pow of flavour with your favourite preserve. I've been known to replace some of the milk in the base with Baileys and to use chocolate chips and hazelnut spread instead of jam here which is out-of-this-world good.

On top you make a very simple, not-too-sweet meringue with the leftover egg whites, pipe it over, pop her back in the oven for a few minutes and away you go.

This one's best eaten as soon as it's cooked as the meringue has a tendency to weep a bit if left in the fridge.

You can make the base and top it with the fruity layer a day in advance, but take it out of the fridge an hour before piping on the meringue.

In my version I've used an ingredient I wait all year for – forced rhubarb. Yes, it's not local, but this magical vegetable only grows in a small triangle in the north of England about now (although you may have forced your own rhubarb in your garden or on an allotment so use that instead).

Forced rhubarb is tender, perfectly pink and sweeter than the standard crops which pop up later in the year. And it works wonderfully with marmalade – orange and rhubarb are a match made in heaven.

I've used the Great Taste award-winning Thursday Cottage Blood Orange Marmalade, available from East of England Co-op stores. To me, this is one of the very best preserves on the market. It errs on the sweeter side and has a beautiful, almost golden hue. Cooked with the rhubarb, it turns into a Penelope Pitstop-coloured compote which is pretty darn good eaten as it is from the pan too – or served with a dollop of cream.

Yum. Send me pictures of your queen of puddings. Email

Rhubarb and blood orange marmalade Queen of puddings

(makes four individual ramekins)


For the base:

600ml milk

3tbsps caster sugar

1/2tsp ground cinnamon

1/2tsp ground ginger

140g fresh white breadcrumbs

3 egg yolks (save the whites), beaten

For the filing:

150g forced rhubarb

6tbsps blood orange marmalade

2tsps cornflour


3 egg whites (reserved from the base)

65g caster sugar


Pre-heat the oven to 200C and pop four ramekins on a tray.

Put the milk in a pan and simmer until warm but not boiling. Place the breadcrumbs in a bowl. Pour the milk over and stir in the sugar, cinnamon and ginger. Leave to soak for 20 minutes. Stir in the egg yolks and pour the mix into your ramekins.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until just set.

While they are cooking prepare the toppings. Pop the rhubarb in a small pan with a couple of tablespoons of cold water. Bring to the boil then simmer gently until the rhubarb starts to break up. Start crushing it with a fork to help. Add the marmalade and cook on a low heat until all the rhubarb has broken up. Pour 1tbsp of the liquid into a cup with the cornflour and mix to a paste. Stir this into the rhubarb mixture and continue to cook until it thickens to the consistency of custard.

To make the meringue whisk the egg whites in a very clean bowl with the sugar until stiff peaks form.

Take the bases out of the oven, turn the oven down to 190C and allow the puds to cool (until they are cool enough to handle). Equally spread over the rhubarb filling then pipe over the meringue.

Return to the oven, on the tray, for five to eight minutes until the meringue starts to turn golden.

Serve straight away.

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