The Crooked Billet

Chilled Rhubarb & Ginger Pudding with Thick Clotted Cream

Serves 4

hilled Rhubarb Pudding 

Trouble with Britain at the beginning of the year, there’s not an awful lot growing. Rhubarb being about the only British fruity offering on the menu – although rhubarb is in fact a vegetable & not a fruit.

Chilled rhubarb & ginger pudding with thick clotted cream has proved a big hit on my menus. Far sexier than that English school meal classic – Rhubarb & Custard. Nothing curdles quite like braised rhubarb hitting warm custard, which separates into globular lumps like those going up & down in a lava lamp. School meals, rhubarb was braised, the trick being to roast it with a drizzle of honey for scrumptious intense flavour & texture.

750g rhubarb, cut into 2cm pieces

4 tbsp honey or 250g caster sugar

50g stem ginger, chopped

250ml grenadine

1 loaf white bread, thinly sliced

Loads of thick cream

Preheat oven to 180°C. Place rhubarb, ginger & honey on a non-stick baking tray, cover with foil & bake for 40 minutes.

Strain the cooking juices through a sieve, reserve the rhubarb. Put the rhubarb juice in a saucepan on the hob over a moderate heat, add the grenadine & simmer for 5 minutes. Allow to cool.

Remove the crusts from the bread & cut each slice into three, cut disc shapes for the base of your pudding moulds (tea cups work well). Line each mould with cling film, allowing plenty of overlap. The film makes getting the pudding out easy.

Dip the bread in the rhubarb grenadine syrup & line the moulds with the soaked bread, overlapping slightly with each slice. Fill the moulds with the gingery rhubarb & a little of the syrup, cover with the circular base & cover the top with the overhanging cling film. Place a weight over each mould & refrigerate overnight.

Turn out the puddings, unwrap the film & plate them, pour any remaining syrup over. Crème fraiche goes nicely, although personally I favour an enormous heart-stopping dollop of thick clotted cream.